Approximately 35% of American families affectionately share their pursuit of happiness with canine partners. However, man’s best friend often takes a big bite out of the neighbors’ search for contentment.
Though I dearly loved my German Shepherd, Ripley, the leash was hung up for the last time many years ago. I then, quite easily, fell in with the poochless majority whose members often must endure the vexing chronic barking of undisciplined dogs in nearby homes. Yes, of course, it’s a free country. One may own as many noisy pets as they please, and conversely, others may purchase and wear earplugs or jack up the TV or stereo volume. Now, you must know that I venture substantial risk of reprisal from offended pet lovers in raising this issue; however, continually forced to seek defensive measures against domestic animal noise pollution is wearying and unacceptable. Therefore, grab your leash, and let us take a stroll along the path of logical examination of liberty and the responsibility we all have to preserve and protect it. Oooh, be careful, watch where you step.
Our treasured Freedom, for the enjoyment of all, must be accompanied by responsibility. However, when canine masters fail their responsibility for discipline, allowing Fido or Fifi to run free or bark to their heart’s content, they rudely cast dung upon the neighbors’ rightful path blazed by the American Declaration of Independence: the proclamation of our life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
The American dream often becomes a nightmare when dogs rule a neighborhood such as my own, where, in contrast to the statistics, the snout count appears to be a 60% margin. At all hours, their senseless and unrestrained barking has revered tranquility clinging like a bulldog to the endangered moods list. These irksome canine concerts are especially annoying after a stressful workday, but the show must go on. Encore performances include yelping at bedtime, barking during the night, and howling in precedence to the morning alarm. Forget a short refreshing nap on a weekend afternoon, because, you guessed it, Bowser is unshackled and gaily celebrating HIS freedom.
I gallantly attempt a “Japanese” attitude about the problem. They, after patiently enduring centuries of crowded living conditions, from an early age, learn the art and discipline of ignoring surrounding disturbances. Unfortunately, the highly irritating nature of canine clatter is difficult to ignore. I am genetically unable to ignore it. Therefore, in partial homage to the Japanese concept, I must limit or moderate any complaints. However, I am quite dismayed when, to the offending critter’s owner, even sparing and courteous comment is viewed as an egregious personal insult, and moreover, an intrusion upon HIS liberty.
Dogs need discipline. Some owners initially display a cooperative attitude, but fail to follow through with any solutions. Some are unwilling to attempt remedies. Others deny any responsibility for correction, and believe those of us without pets suffer ignorance. They growl, “Getta clue dude! Dogs bark, that’s life, get over it!” Forgive my French, but that’s pure dog crap! Rover or Foo-foo can be trained for peaceful behavior. Let us examine Butch’s barking life: most of his vocal efforts are useless and often purely for his own selfish amusement. Other flea collared, tail waggers find that barking is a welcome relief to a life of aggravating boredom.
Yet pooch owners harbor the misconception that if barking is restrained, their security is in jeopardy. Protection is important, but Bowser need not bark to provide security: his presence alone is most often sufficient crime deterrence. Moreover, a watchdog allowed 24/7 vocal license seriously reduces his alert value; he will likely be ignored at a crucial moment. It is the old “cry wolf” scenario. Therefore, security is then compromised because a burglar alert cannot be distinguished from the usual terrorizing of a passing cat or the familiar, but audacious harassment of a neighbor simply getting into his car or fetching the morning paper.
Why must anyone endure the bothersome behavior of undisciplined pets? Why does a minority, in most areas, exercising their right and freedom of dog ownership, abuse the life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness of the majority? It is usually because of selfishness, ignorance and disregard for civil courtesy. If Spot’s human is unwilling or unable to properly discipline a pet, then perhaps ownership should be denied by some newly established, money wasting government regulatory agency. However, that obviously repressive solution is out of the question. Nevertheless, solving the problem may be difficult, for its import falls short of justification for legislative action or court battles. Yet on a daily personal level it is a major irritation, which taints our quality of life, therefore, some form of relief should be established.
Barking restraints such as strategic scolding, sound emitting devices, and bark breaker collars, if applied early in a pet’s life, are effective. However, on untrained older dogs, these measures often fail. Thus, some animal care professionals use veterinary vocal cord surgery, which eliminates a dog’s loud voice, but allows whispering sounds. Many dog lovers reject this as a cruel violation of the hallowed canine body, yet they think nothing of invading that shrine for neutering or spaying – just a bit of hypocrisy and a loss of common sense which, across the board on many issues , is growing like a cancer in America. Will Spot, unable to express himself, lose his dignity? Will he develop a need for psychiatric care? Will he rebel by urinating on the sofa? I doubt it. The real cruelty lies in the indiscriminate and incessant howling and barking imposed upon innocent neighbors; therefore, surgery is a mission of mercy: a fulfillment of liberty’s responsibility obligations to society. In addition, if women have their tubes tied and men undergo vasectomies, we can surely snip Rover’s vocal cords.
The solution must begin with a proper attitude. We must honor the principle of freedom by living responsibly and courteously with our neighbors, but must not, for fear of confrontation, ignore the problem. For everyone’s benefit, no matter what the outcome, those disturbed should risk diplomatically calling an owner’s attention to the offensive behavior; then follow with sincere and courteous negotiations for a solution. It may not be easy, but should be done. In conclusion, we need to take care in our exercise of any freedom, so that for everyone, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is protected and preserved.