Unlike with people I never met a dog that barked just to hear the sound of its own voice until “Sissy” moved in next door. My neighbor directly to the south purchased a registered Yorkie and christened her Sissy. Sissy is beautiful, friendly and so sweet. She was definitely meant to be a house pet. Cyrus, the neighbor’s house cat didn’t like Sissy. He was jealous of her from the beginning. Cyrus had ruled the roost for 7 years. His back arched. His tail swelled to the size of an anaconda and he howled and whined and refused to be comforted, so poor precious Sissy went right out the back door. When the weather was bad, Cyrus was put in their room and Sissy had run of the house, but the moment the weather cleared she was right back out.
Sissy was pampered. Her dog house would have held a Great Dane. It was fully equipped with central heat and air, windows and a revolving door. The sidewalk and sod had electric heaters to melt the winter snow, but Sissy wanted in and she said so. She had every toy that could be found and she loved them all. All day long she was content. She ran and played and napped, but when the sun set, she began to bark and howl and cry. It was as sad as it was annoying. As soon as the lights went out inside, the show started outside. It was as if she was practicing for some great “doggie” musical. Sissy could hit notes barely audible to the human ear.
Actually she has a pretty little voice, but with my bedroom being on the back of my house and only 30 feet away from Sissy’s house, I longed for her to just lay down and go to sleep. She did, but only when the first rays of sun appeared on the horizon. She would go into her house and snooze for hours as I groggily arose and fumbled off to work. After a week of this I went next door. Politely I explained that Sissy was keeping me awake. Their bedroom was upstairs and on the opposite end of their house from Sissy. They had heard her occasionally but had no idea what I was going through.
A few days later they came to see me with a list of options for quieting Sissy. They all seemed inhumane to me. I didn’t want her voice box removed. I didn’t want her in a shock collar. I didn’t want them to give her away. They wouldn’t give her to me and didn’t want her spending the night either. At least I knew that they were trying to find a solution.
Four months went by and I was still being serenaded. About 3 am one morning I heard a new sound. It was not only Sissy singing, but there was a second voice. I stepped out on my patio and seven of the neighbors were also on their patios. The neighbor directly across the alley from Sissy was a beautiful older woman who loved the opera. She was in a lavish silk gown. She had crossed the alley and met Sissy at he back fence. Sissy was leaning on the fence with her little head stretched high, tail wagging and ears at full salute and they were singing a duet. I captured it on my video camera. Sissy, the opera singer and all the neighbors in their pajamas. It is a classic. When the pair had sang their last notes everyone went back to bed and fell asleep, even Sissy.
That morning I took the video and visited the local veterinarian telling her Sissy’s story. When she finally quit laughing she said to me, “This little cutie is simply bored. All the lights go out and she spends all night asking someone to pay attention to her.” I asked her, “If this is true why does she stop barking at daylight?” The moment she answered I understood. At daylight all the noise started up again. There was noise from houses, noise from the streets, birds singing and all sorts of things to look at and listen to. Everything was awake and bustling and she no longer felt all alone in the world.
I spend a lot of time outdoors. I built an enclosed patio all across the back of my house and 12 foot deep into the yard with mosquito screening and roll out windows. I have a huge gas grill and all the gadgets. I left the vet’s office and made a trip to the discount store where I purchased a large screen television set. and spent the afternoon setting it up on the patio and facing it where Sissy could watch it all night long. Truth is Sissy just gave me an excuse to buy what I’d been longing for. Before bed I went out and found a family channel with shows like Cosby & Family Affair that played all night long and turned the volume down, but loud enough for Sissy to hear. Now from her bed in her own house she could watch TV. When the action got good she would run to the fence and jump up on it wagging that little stub tail. Watching Sissy watching TV provided me with all the entertainment that I needed and it worked. She was quiet. Now if she barked I knew to get up because something strange was going on.
Sissy and I have become good friends. Often in the evening I reach over the fence and pick her up and we lounge on the patio together, her cuddled in my lap. We watch old western reruns together. She likes John Wayne. We have great conversations. I talk and she wags and she appreciates my steaks.
Sissy taught me something. Dogs don’t bark just to be barking. They bark when they’re hungry, thirsty, frightened, ill, tangled, hurt, or just simply bored. To be sure there is a reason if they’re raising a ruckus and with a little investigation it can be resolved.