Monday, December 01, 2003


I was talking with our dogs last night. Our dogs work in shifts, well it's not really work...they bark in day parts. Avery, the smallest, the female, the most dominant dog, barks during the day. She barks if she hears another dog bark. She barks if kids run by out front. She barks if construction machinery is operating down the road. She barks at the neighbors next door, she barks at the neighbors two doors down, she barks at cows behind our house, she barks at the garbage crews, she barks at birds. Avery barks a lot.

Winston, our special needs dog, barks at night. If it's dark, Winston will let out a bark as soon as he goes out the door . I assume he's hoping to scare away things that scare him. Since it remains dark even after he barks, he'll keep barking. I think Winston believes daylight works sort of like the clapper.
He'll also bark and or howl at random moments, and when he's confused.
Winston is confused a lot.

Klondike, the dog who once was considered dumb - then we got two dogs who are certifiably insane - usually barks only if provoked. If there's an unusual noise, someone lurking out front, or another dog passing by, he'll let out a canine bellow that can rattle nerves and windows a half block away. I've never discouraged Klondike from barking. He's big, he sounds ferocious, and he's reserves his best barks for door to door salespeople.

So last night I sat down with the dogs in the backyard and tried to explain it to them. I told the small dogs, they didn't have to bark at all. That Klondike had barking duty. He has the loudest bark. He knows when to use it. I tried to reason with them, mentioning that I sleep odd hours and that if we could negotiate a barking hierarchy we would have a much more peaceful environment. I told the little mutts they could feel free to simply be frolicking dogs. An occasional yelp is fine, but incessant barking really isn't required. I explained their lives should be carefree. They didn't need to worry or try to protect our little asylum.

They stared at me for a while. I patted them on their heads and went back inside.

Winston howled.

I was talking with God last night. I told Him how I was struggling lately. That Amy's ongoing health issues had me worrying too much. That I felt distracted. That I was losing sleep. I mentioned that the dogs barked a lot and Christmas seemed like it was approaching with the threatening tempo of a freight train.

It felt good to pray long and hard. To unburden myself.

After a while I was more at peace. I realized my life could be more carefree. That I didn't have to worry quite so much.

Perhaps there's something to this barking thing...

Psalm 116:5-7

The Lord protects the simplehearted; when I was in great need, He saved me.
Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the Lord has been good to you.