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BAXTER BLACK ON THE EDGE OF COMMON SENSE

Visiting dogs: Barking is just part of nature

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When I hear a truck pull up in front of the house and the pandemonium of dogs barkin’ would wake a hibernating mastodon, I relax. It’s only my neighbor, D.K., come to borrow something of his back.

He doesn’t get this ferocious reception because he’s on the canine list of unsavory visitors or because he has the reputation of annoying domestic animals on a regular basis. It’s because his two dogs usually accompany him on his rounds.

My dogs even bark at his pickup when he drives in anticipating that his dogs will be in the back. On those rare occasions when he comes “undogged,” my dogs give him a withering glare and stomp off. It’s like they are disappointed.

After all, what else have they got to do? Watch the sheep through the fence? Go to the pasture and check the cows? Sneak up on the creek in hopes of scaring the urea out of the ducks?

I watched them the last time I went to D.K.’s to borrow his brush hog. My dogs were leaning out the side already clearing their throats as we neared his place. I deliberately drove by the first turn-in. Both dogs jerked their heads around and glared at me through the back window. I could see Hattie mouthing the words, “Hey turkey, ya missed it!”

I turned in the second drive and we were met with the raucous sounds of a rabbit let go in a dog kennel. I pulled to a stop as D.K.’s dogs surrounded the pickup barking at the top of their dog lungs.

My dogs were leaning out over the side like seasick fishermen returning in kind, bark for bark. It was deafening.

But I noticed D.K.’s dogs never got quite close enough to touch noses and mine knew just how far to lean to avoid actual contact.

One might think it was all for show. Protecting their territory, as if his were shouting, “Don’t you dare get out.” and mine were screaming, “No way we’re lettin’ you jump in this truck!”

Or they could just be visiting like old folks at a reunion, “HOW ARE YOU, TEX! I HEAR YOU GOT A NEW HEARING AID! WHAT KIND IS IT?”

“QUARTER TO FOUR!”

I’ve gotten to where I don’t worry about it much. Dogs like to bark. It’s in their job description. It probably doesn’t irritate the dogs near as much as it does us humans. They just communicate at different decibel levels. It’s part of nature. It’s possible even aphids bark at each other and we just can't hear it. But it must drive the ants crazy.