When Dogs Were Dogs
When I was a kid we wandered all over the neighbourhood, usually with one or two dogs loping along behind. These fine, stinky animals, which dined exclusively on a nightly can of Pal, were usually a dirty yellow, or black and were always ‘bitzers’ with a healthy serving of Labrador. They were friendly, obedient and mostly ignored. They were just part of the gang.
In those days dogs walked the streets, or hung lazily at their gates stretched out asleep on the pavement, or even the road. Generally, if you didn’t bother them they didn’t bother you. Occasionally, a kid got bitten – like me, when a fat Alsatian-cross called ‘Lassie’ took a hunk out of my calf as I foolishly ran past its drive. And sometimes you would hear about a dog that chased a car and had its head crushed under a wheel. For the most part, however, all was good between man and beast. There was even a black-and-white mongrel called ‘Podge’ who came to our school every day and delighted us at recess by being dive-bombed by the plovers on the oval. We all shared a suburban, flea-ridden, Pal-fart Eden. And then (the 70’s? or 80’s?) the shires said dogs had to be on a leash, or locked up.
That’s when the trouble started. Instead of being able trot up to No 14 to visit a few mates while the kids were in school the dogs were sentenced to monkish solitude in backyards. All they could do was dig, sleep, shit and bark. They got bored and went stir-crazy. Dog-experts say the reason they bark is that they are trying, relentlessly and pointlessly, to make contact with their (human) pack-leader who, to them, is just beyond the gate or door.
Because I work from home I am the world’s foremost expert on the various types of barking dog. NB. The traits described below are NOT mutually exclusive. Often captive dogs exhibit all these behaviors.
Barks insanely every time a person (usually walking a dog) or anything gets within thirty metres of their territory.
A smaller, fluffier version of The Defender. These types of dogs, bred originally as nighttime palace alarms, emit the most annoying sound on earth. The Yapper can also be a pint-sized Caller.
As mentioned, this dog relentlessly barks for its unseen pack-leader. It often becomes the mad-caller.
The Mad Caller
This dog has been locked up so long, and is so rarely (if ever) walked that it has been driven insane. When its master is out it barks non-stop. It has barked so much that is often hoarse.
This is a dog that receives too much attention, so much that it cannot bear to be without constant adoration. Whenever it is left alone it cries like a baby. People who own Moaners – and they are a particularly pathetic bunch – have lately been sneaking them into Bunnings in their trolleys.
For someone who works from home barking dogs are distracting and maddening. Generally, the owners are at work and therefore the problem is out-of-sight; out-of-mind. When you bring it to their attention they do their best to look surprised and contrite when really they are thinking, “What’s all the fuss about? It’s then I feel like taking a barking dog to their office and chaining it up in their tea-room. I tell them about the advances in bark collars – citronella spray, or quick shock – and sometimes they respond in the positive. But it’s never the same with that neighbor again.
When I read stories about dogs being shot, or stabbed, or poisoned, as have all been the case, and I see the horrified family, or the disgusted policeman being interviewed, I don’t think, “How terrible.” I am only surprised there are not more such incidents.
A dog locked in a (now-tiny) suburban yard, or worse, a city apartment, is sanctioned cruelty. It begs the question(s) why do people who can’t care for a dog own a dog? And why do they find it so hard to train them? These questions will be addressed in the next installment: Vote 1 For Dog Worship
Story by Bud Rose