Even the dogs on the street know about the cure for barking canine syndrome
Published 05/08/2016 | 02:30
There is an app doing the rounds in which a caller phones your mobile and a woman starts giving out yards about your dogs barking and keeping her awake at night.
I know about it because my wife got the call last Tuesday and immediately started explaining to the mythical voice at the other end of the line that our Jessie and Beno are two very well behaved little mutts, etc, etc.
It was not until she heard guffaws of inane laughter in the background that she realised it was a prank and ended the call.
Even then, she insisted on repeating to anyone who would listen that our dogs are not like that.
That, I suppose, is the whole point of it - many of us have dogs and they sometimes bark at inconvenient times, but we are all too ready to believe it's others who cause a nuisance, not ourselves.
As I'm writing this, I'm listening to a dog in the area barking incessantly. It's lunchtime and the owners have probably gone to work, leaving their so-called pet alone all day. Its natural reaction is to bark continuously until it probably gets hoarse, takes a break and begins all over again.
Yes, I suppose I could close the window, but I don't have double glazing. Even when I do I still hear this hound of hell, just a little bit more distantly.
Like an annoying burglar alarm, a barking dog gets on your nerves to the extent that the fact that it's happening becomes more annoying than the sound itself. I can also hear a lawnmower droning in the background and that does not cause me the same kind of angst as the barking dogs.
Now, I'm not saying our own two are some kind of canine saints. Jessie, an even-tempered Wheaten Terrier, attacks the postman and couriers because they're carrying packages. If you walk up to the door with your arms swinging you could walk right in, but anyone with an item to deliver has to run the gauntlet.
On the other hand, I've heard one of the neighbours muttering "that bloody dog" as he spies Beno in the front garden. He's an inherited Yorkshire terrier suffering from little dog syndrome. He barks rapturously at the prospect of a walk and sits on the back of the couch looking out the front window late at night, waiting for an opportunity to howl at a passing fox or any stray.
But these are momentary outbursts and, thankfully, don't last too long - or at least that's my justification. But maybe a bleary-eyed neighbour woken at 3am doesn't feel quite the same.
A writer friend once tweeted about a neighbour's dog upsetting her literary rhythm, but baulked when it came to actually writing about it. She was prepared to put up with the continuously yapping dog rather than get involved in a confrontation.
It's funny the way our attitude to dogs has changed in the last few years. In my youth, dogs were called Rover, or Patch or Prince - I even knew a woman who called her pup Pup and it retained the name even when it grew into a dog. Now dogs have human names like Millie and Lucy and Molly, while the lads are called Oscar or Max or Charlie.
Giving out about someone's dog is a little like giving out about their children - and you know how that goes down, even when it's justified.
But there is a cure - although not everyone approves of it. I was up the Shannon on a boat with my friends Dermot, Ned and Dan when we moored beside a boat with two Schnauzer dogs with funny collars. The owner explained that they were barkers, so the collar is electrified and after two barks administers an electric shock. Now there's a solution to barking dog syndrome.
Apparently, like the prank app - and everything else - you can get them on the internet.