Archive for August 1st, 2009

Buddy loves to bark at potential intruders.  He thinks it’s part of his job.

And I’m totally fine with it – not because I am particularly concerned about potential intruders, but because it makes him so happy.

When I lived way out in the mountains, my neighbors out there genuinely were worried about intruders – about bad people coming around to hurt them.  It was always amazing to me that folks way out in the country – where this was extremely unlikely to happen (not many burglaries out there) – were so much more paranoid about this supposed danger than the average city person.  I’ve got some theories – and have heard some others – but none of them completely satisfy me, and aren’t the point of this posting.  But this was my neighbors’ rationale for letting their dogs bark or howl all night, which was tremendously annoying to me and often disruptive of my sleep.  (“Doesn’t this also wake them up at night?” I would wonder – and sometimes spitefully wish.  But I think they were just used to it.)

The hound who lives next door to me now would gladly howl all night, most nights – at barking dogs way down the road or at all manner of things that I think she mostly imagines.  Fortunately her owner brings her in at night, eventually – or any time I call him to say, “Hey Tom, I’m going to bed now.”  And Buddy, who stays out most nights –  free, in our little spot, as he always is – almost never barks at night.  And, when he does, I usually don’t even have to leave the comfort of my bed to yell (kind of sweetly, actually) “Hey, you be quiet now” – and he does.

And barking dogs can certainly be the bane of many city neighborhoods.  When Buddy, before me, lived in a city neighborhood, they tell me that he would bark at anybody who walked down the sidewalk next to his fenced-in yard – and, in the city, that was a lot of people.  That strikes me as bad news.  But out here in the country, very few people walk by.

But Buddy will happily bark at those few people – and at any of the cars that infrequently drive up our driveway (usually to Tom’s place, right behind me).  Not the FedEx trucks, though, that frequently visit Tom’s house (he runs his own business from home).  No, from the FedEx trucks – and he recognizes their sound from way down the road – he cowers in his doghouse.  I don’t know what the deal is with those big brown trucks (UPS, too): do they look like some big, terrifying animal?  Some friends have speculated that he must have had some bad experience with one, but I have other friends who say that there dog reacts the same way to those trucks.

But I’m glad to let Buddy bark at our infrequent “potential intruders” because it makes him happy.  His barks are usually in no way scary to people who do walk by, because he usually only takes a few steps towards them – way down on the road – and because anybody who knows almost anything about dogs can tell that this is not a genuinely menacing bark, but just a dog sounding the alert.

I think it makes him happy because this behavior is so instinctive – it charges up his instincts.  And in a dog like Buddy, who tends towards the timid side, charging up his instincts is, I think, mostly a good thing.  It makes him feel brave and confident.  When I do call him in when he’s barking, usually because it’s kind of late and i don’t want his barking to bother Tom, he comes in all excited, charged up – happy.

You go, Buddy, repel those intruders – keep me all nice and safe.  Knock yourself out.  Have a good time.

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