However, we have neighbors down the street who this spring, apparently procured two beagles. They already had a small white fluffy dog (and I apologize, but I can't tell the under twenty pound, ungroomed, fluffy white dog category apart; bichon frise? Maltese), and the small fluffy white dog has a very peculiar bark, that sounds like the signature scream of women in horror movies. The beagles, well, howl and bark like hounds in those movies where they chase escaped prisoners.
I've become a connoisseur of these neighbor dog barks because they do it all. The. Time. When cars drive past. When pedestrians pass. When other dogs pass. When the wind blows. These dogs, most often the beagles but sometimes all three, are apparently kept on said neighbor's back deck all day. By "down the street", I in fact mean this house is down the street, make a right, and they're partway up that subsequent block. There's some distance here. But beagle barks carry.
Bad owners make bad dogs. I really can't emphasize this enough. Dogs bark for any number of reasons, as I discussed in my book review of Barking, by Kim Campbell Thornton. Since that post, Elka has in fact developed an unfortunate occasional barking problem, but she does tend to this time of year, when the college student neighbors move into the various houses around us. Summer is very quiet; fall is not. A single bark to alert is fine; barking at length when I'm in the bathroom and Jim is sleeping, say, is not. And hard to redirect, I assure you. It began a few weeks ago, and has already begun to taper off, though perhaps not quite to my taste. But, some of that blame is mine, because sometimes I don't want to get up the eighth time to look out the front door at whatever has alerted my Doberman dear, to turn to her and say "I see, thank you. Enough." and be done with it. Sometimes I just tell her to go lay down, which does not make her feel as reassured.
Elka, however, is never attended in our back yard. She is also never permitted to bark at length. There is, in fact, part of my city code that addresses the behavior of the neighborly beagles:
I'm especially amused by the "annoyance of person other than the owner." part. So, there's my problem. I don't actually want to call the police on my neighbors, but it maddens me that they leave their dogs out all day to behave like this, and can't be bothered to give them other means of entertainment. Maybe that's unfair; I've never approached the deck to see if there's actually a bevy of toys that the dogs ignore in preference of barking. And it's strange to complain about dogs when you're a dog owner, but I'm not really complaining about the dogs, who I feel sorry for. They must be lonely, even though there are a few of them, and they must be bored out of their skulls.It shall be unlawful for any owner of any dog to permit or allow such dog, in the City, to engage in habitual and/or continuous howling, barking or crying for an unreasonable length of time to the annoyance of person other than the owner.
I'd consider talking to the neighbor, but the little white dog rushed snarling at Elka the last time we graced the sidewalk in front of their house, and the woman from the house who retrieved said little white dog wasn't the slightest bit apologetic, but rather seemed put out that she had to come get her dog. During the encounter, I kept myself between Elka and the small dog, because I would prefer my dog not have to defend herself and then get blamed because she's a Big Vicious Doberman. We in fact walk a different way now, because I don't want to deal with it.