Dogs of our Lives

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Whose dog barks louder?

Filed in Dogs of our Lives

Our little village has gone to the dogs; literally. Our up-door neighbours moved out several months ago because they couldn't handle being surrounded by dogs. Our own dogs bark but thankfully not incessantly but there are plenty of other dogs to make up for the silence.

The view from our village

In clock-face terminology, try to imagine this arrangement.

At 2 o'clock, a new neighbour has moved in and surprised us by laying claim to having not 3, not 5 but 13 dogs. Only four of them reside on the roof where we can see them. The other nine reside within their third-floor apartment. Three of the roof-residing dogs bark occasionally and who can blame them? Life on a walled-in roof can be pretty dull.

At 3 o'clock, our neighbour owns four or five dogs. We almost never hear them bark because the windows are almost always closed shut.

At 4 o'clock behind the 3 o'clock building is another building whose ground floor occupier owns four beautiful and extremely human-looking Afghan hounds. They spend much of their time standing on their hind legs leaning on the brick wall and watching the people and other dogs pass by below. They of course bark every time a dog goes past, and occasionally when people go past.

At 5 o'clock on the second floor, there are two small dogs. On the roof belonging to another person are another three, possibly four dogs. I'm not exactly sure how many because we've never seen them, just heard them fight and bark on occasion.

At 7 o'clock just behind us, there are another two or three dogs. They're pretty bored inside so they spend some of their time looking out the window and barking at us whenever we pass by. The alley-way between their building and ours makes an excellent amplifier so their barking is sometimes the loudest and one of the main reasons that our up-door neighbours moved away.

At 9 o'clock on the second floor is another dog. He spends almost all of his time on the balcony. He's not really allowed inside the apartment. As a result, he's the watchdog for our little row of buildings, barking at each and every man, woman and dog that passes by the back of our building. Our own dogs respond in kind to each of his alarm signals by barking and running outside. I wish I knew dog-talk because our dogs instantly know by his language whether the passer-by is a human, a dog, a monkey or a man pulling a small trolley and yelling at the top of his voice "buying old television sets, buying old air conditioners" (always in Cantonese of course; 收買電視機,收買冷氣機).

At 12 o'clock on the other side of a forest area are more dogs.

And in our home, there are ten dogs. They're wonderful members of the family and we love them all. Thankfully, they're not as noisy as they could have been and generally keep pretty quiet. The things that really rile them up to a full barking frenzy (and frenzy is exactly the right word to use here) are people walking their dogs past our gate (ie, an intrusion on their territory) and monkeys.

Some of our dogs watching the neighbours

But back to the question; whose dog barks louder? I would have to say that our dogs bark the loudest but it's not really a question of decibels as much as a question of responsibility. When other dogs bark, it's not my responsibility and I don't have to worry about them or the noise they're making. When our dogs bark, at some point I have a responsibility to quiet them down. There's a psychology angle to all of this and it has to do with the pressure of being a responsible neighbour. Consequently, our dogs bark the loudest, especially if they're barking at 8 or 9 in the morning when some neighbours might still be sleeping.

Thankfully though, our ten wonderful dogs are relatively quiet; except when the monkeys comes visiting but I'll tell you about them another time.