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I could spend the next 500 words in gentle reminders about barking dogs, or I could keep it simple and tell you to do something about it.
It's annoying and disrespectful.
Most dogs come with something called a "bark." It's not an add-on item. Dog owners know they are getting the bark with the dog.
Dog owners know or must know that barking can be a problem, unless ignorance is bliss, and it often is.
Barking can have a direct and unpleasant effect on everything. Dinner time, movie watching, book reading, music listening, conversation, napping and hanky-panky.
The non-stop, intermittent, abrupt and harsh sound of a barking backyard dog can become an irritant. It can lead to many things, including a comment to the owner, a confrontation, and a call to the authorities.
I try to look at this from both sides.
Maybe the owner thinks his dog has permission to bark, because other dogs are doing it too.
But somewhere in between is a resident who does not have a dog in the chorus.
Combine barking with hot summer days - and they're on their way - and you have yourself a Tylenol headache.
At this very moment, there's a call and response in the backyards near us.
The renter next door goes to work and leaves Baskerville out back. The renter on the other side of him does the same thing. Their dogs meet at the fence and vocalize.
Dog ownership is a responsibility. Dogs are great, but dogs do some things that require control and maintenance. Dogs bark and dogs poop.
There are irresponsible dog owners all over the place. There is dog poop all over the place.
It's easy to sit here and scold. And it might be fruitless. Human beings don't come with the words "conscientious" and "considerate." Those words have to be learned, and sometimes they never are. You've heard of littering?
I mentioned a barking problem to one of my neighbors, and was told, "With all due respect, they're dogs."
This had crossed my mind, and I think it might work, if we didn't live side by side. Even then, a dog's barking at almost any distance is unpleasant. It's not meowing.
There are signs on the greenbelt that are reminders about the responsibilities of dog ownership.
One of them mentions leashes.
My roommate and I have been confronted 14 times by unleashed dogs.
Once I was nipped.
But, after all, "they're dogs."
What can be done about it?
Unattended dogs can be attended. There are some great pet sitters in town.
Dogs can be placed in daycare.
From time to time, Smitty stays at the VCA Mountainview Animal Hospital and Pet Lodge on East County Line Road.
These things cost money, however.
There are devices, including collars and sonic barking silencers, that are intended to solve the problem.
On the other hand, the cavalier idea that dogs will be dogs can lead to a visit from the authorities, warnings and fines.
Unattended barking does something else. It harms the balance, which sometimes can be a delicate one to begin with, between neighbor and neighbor.
It's why I don't shoot off fireworks, or play loud music outdoors, whenever I feel like it.
Aretha Franklin spelled it out.
Craig Marshall Smith is an artist, educator and Highlands Ranch resident. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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