Down on the Farm: Neighbors
As I write this, in the backyard of the neighboring house, two German Shepherds howl and bark at the top of their lungs as they have for the past three days.
The poor dogs are lonely. They haven't been walked in days. The owners left for the weekend, leaving the dogs to be taken care of by a sitter who rarely shows.
And so the dogs howl and bark at all hours. There is nowhere in the house you can go to get away from the howling. It penetrates every wall.
To sleep last night, I put in ear plugs. Today, in desperation, I bought a bag of treats. Two treats, I have found, buys fifteen minutes of silence.
I looked up constant barking on the internet, the source of all truth. The verdict was clear. Dogs do not naturally bark for hours on end. If they do, something is wrong.
Oh, the sheer vanity of some dog owners. The pets are there for them when they want them but when the owners want to leave, they don't care what the dogs do or how they feel.
"Oh, Elsie loves to sit in her kennel for 10 hours a day!" I actually heard somebody say once, in response to a query about what a dog does when its owners are gone for work.
Yeah, right. What dog would love to be in a cage for 10 hours per day? How do you know she loves it?
But to the dog owners, maintaining the delusion that Elsie loves to spend 10 hours a day in a cage is necessary to maintain their vain belief that they are good, compassionate people.
They are neither. City dog owners love the adoration the dogs heap on them when they are home, but ignore the fact that the very act of owning a dog in a big city and leaving it alone and confined 10 hours per day is inhumane and cruel.
Better than letting the dog be euthanized? I wonder.
Dogs are companions by trade. And they need companionship. They need to be on a farm, where they can be part of the general busyness, or in a home where somebody is there nearly all the time.
Dogs are ideal for senior citizens who are confined. Dogs are ideal for nursing homes. Dogs are ideal for people with medical conditions requiring a service dog.
Dogs can be ideal for children. But for busy people who are never home? Keeping a dog just to be there when you need them for purposes of ego or fashion but which spends the great bulk of its waking hours alone and miserable is simply unkind.
Of course, I am writing while addled by lonely, barking German Shepherds next door. I might just not be suited to living in close proximity with other human beings.
If it wasn't the dogs, it might be loud music. Or a loud car. Or the party in the back yard. Or the wind chimes. Or the pool-cleaning machine.
With a cold stretch of weather down here in Arizona, heat pumps grind away throughout the neighborhood. They grind and groan as if this is the first heat they have produced in fifteen years.
The neighbor's heat pump is right outside the bedroom window. I am about to put a crowbar through it just to shut it up.
Then there's the golfers. Thump! A golf ball hit the roof yesterday morning. The ball rolled out into the fenced-in back yard, in full view.
The guilty duffer and his buddies drove their carts right up to the back fence. I was fifteen feet away and could have easily opened the sliding door and tossed his ball over the fence.
But curmudgeon that I am, I hid inside until he moved on. Then I ducked outside, grabbed the ball and added it to my collection on the hearth. The German Shepherds howled their approval.
Today, three duffers hit very nice tee shots onto the fairway right behind the house. When their carts approached, the German Shepherds started to howl. I walked into the back yard where I was fully visible. As the duffers lined up their second shots thirty feet in front of me, I decided to not greet them, but just stare with my arms folded and the dogs howling. All three muffed their shots. Badly.
As the cursing duffers disappeared down the ravine to find their balls, I ran in, grabbed four dog treats and threw them over the fence to the German Shepherds.
It was the canine equivalent of a high-five.