Wednesday, June 1, 2011


"Is there any other point to which you would wish to draw my attention?"
"To the curious incident of the dog in the night-time."
"The dog did nothing in the night-time."
"That was the curious incident," remarked Sherlock Holmes.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Silver Blaze

LK and I are foreordained, I believe, to live near howling dogs. Here in Tassie, our neighbor's dogs erupt in yipping and yowling several times a day. In Greenwich our neighbor's dog lived up to our name for it - Little Yappie - by barking pretty much every few minutes. And before that, it was our own dog, Sadie, that barked and yelped so much that in desperation we called in an outfit called Bark Busters.

Even Maddie Faye, our beagle in the US, could lure a pack of wolves to our doorstep when she decided to let loose baying at the moon. But her barking and baying was inconsequential to her chief bad habit - chewing everything in the house. And I mean everything from table legs to sofas to books to album covers to wallets to - well, you get the picture. (She drove us mad, but we at least got some small satisfaction when we moved to Oz and convinced a pair of lawyers to adopt her.)

As to our immediate issue, much like Sherlock Holmes' famous hound, the dogs next door are quiet over night. But when our neighbors put them out on the patio when they go to work the pooches also go to work ensuring that everyone knows it is their turf and they are there, ready to defend.

One of the dogs is a doofy looking labrador-type that stands up only to drink water, eat and howl. I call him Butch. 

The other one is a curly-furred thing that looks like a french poodle had a brief fling with a chihuahua. If the name on its doghouse is to be believed, this thing is called Pepe. So maybe the chihuahua idea isn't that far-fetched.

When Pepe howls - and Pepe howls a lot - he does his best to sound like Butch but, bless him, his little throat just can't make those big wolfy sounds. So instead Pepe sounds more or less as if he's being strangled. Or as LK said the first time she heard them, "I think the big dog is eating the little one."

It's difficult to figure out how to deal with this. Or even whether to. First of all, unlike Little Yappie in Sydney, we go hours on end without hearing Pepe and Butch. But when they do go off, they inevitably startle us with a sound that is about as pleasant as listening to Yoko Ono rehearse at full volume.

Despite having evil thoughts, I just don't have it in me to throw poisoned meat over the fence so I have looked for more socially acceptable alternatives. One solution that has a bit of appeal is a device that lets you emit a sound that only dogs hear whenever they bark. Oh, did I mention that apparently it hurts their ears when you emit the sound?

So it's kind of a Bark! Ouch! Bark! Ouch! Bark! Ouch! until Butch and Pepe figure out there's a connection to the noise they're making and the noise they're hearing. Being dogs, of course, there's absolutely no guarantee that they will ever figure that out.

I will probably buy this audio zapper and try it. Even if it doesn't stop the racket, it will give me some small comfort to think that Butch and Pepe's ears start hurting whenever mine do, too.

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