The Sound of one Dog Barking

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I remember the first time I encountered the opinion that a barking dog was an irritant. I was reading the blurb on the cover of a John Denver album. I can't remember the exact quote, but he said something to the effect that he wished everyone could have the opportunity to stand on a mountain where there was no traffic noise or barking dog. It startled me, because no one in my family had ever expressed irritation at the sound of a dog barking in the distance.

I say "in the distance" because of course it's a different matter if the barking actually hurts one's ears. I'm referring here to barking that's either distant enough to be at a comfortable decibel level or deep enough to have no high-pitched ear-piercing component. I'm particularly fond of the deep "woof" of a massive dog. I always included the sound of such barking in the "nature" category, along with the sounds of crickets at night and cicadas in the trees. I realize now that not everyone feels this way.

Fortunately, most of my nearest neighbors have dogs of their own. I live on a cul-de-sac on which there are only seven houses including the two at the end that face the cross street. In these seven houses live six dogs. Not that my puppy barks much, but he is surprisingly territorial about the back yard, and he doesn't seem to understand that the fence is the boundary. It's a paddock fence, not a solid one, so he can see through it, and he barks at anyone on the other side. He doesn't get much opportunity, really-- the neighbors on either side of me are almost never in their yards. The neighbor on the right has let his yard become overgrown to the "dense forest" stage, while the neighbor on the left is a ninety-year-old woman who lives alone.

I've introduced Saint to the neighbors who live directly behind me. They were dog owners until their fourth beagle died, bringing an end to some sixty years of beagle ownership. Saint is still a little nervous when he sees them, but the wife plans to offer him treats through the fence to win him over. She and her husband like it that there are dogs in the neighborhood, and they like it that the dogs bark. This is my feeling, too; irritation is in the ears of the listener.


I'm with you, Mary. I've always had dogs around me, even when I haven't owned any, and on the whole I've heard and ignored. There have been exceptions, though: a dauchshund who was left in the back yard all day in my old neighborhood, who yelped and barked nonstop all day. I wasn't mad at the dog, I was mad at the stupid owners who made ill-considered choices about how the dog was to be kept.

My first dog (years ago), Ninja, barked a normal amount when he was outside, but there was someone in the neighborhood who objected to every sound he made: and sent nasty anonymous letters about it. Never reported us to the police or anything, but was seriously unbalanced, to judge by the hate mail. Since we had one of our dogs poisoned when I was growing up, I dreaded it happening to Ninja.

Oh my god! yeah, I worry about poisoning, too. Bummer.

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