Monday, October 29, 2012

A Sleep-in for the Victims of Barking Dogs

This past Saturday, I was part of the first-ever Walk for Victims of Pit Bulls and Other Dangerous Dogs. I'm proud to say that this event took place in this, the City of Tucson.

I'll admit to being pretty hard on Tucson in this blog. My stance results from all the official indifference to the victims of barking noise, if not the outright hostility. I've personally experienced both.

However, I'm hopeful that when it comes to dog issues, and the abuse of people that stems from irresponsible dog ownership, things may be changing. And if Tucson, the city that sounds like a kennel, leads the way, hooray!

Although Saturday's walk was about victims of dog attacks, I met more than a few people who've also had issues with barking in their neighborhoods. And not just in Tucson. They've tried to enlist the help of neighbors in getting the barking problems solved, but no such luck. Which means that they've had to fight this battle alone.

A parent of a pit bull mauling victim reported similar difficulties in getting support from his neighbors. Despite the fact that his child was so severely injured that he spent several weeks in the hospital, there were neighbors who were, shall we say, less than kind to him and his family. It was nice to see this man and his wife getting such wonderful support at Saturday's Walk.

Truth be told, there wasn't much walking on Saturday. We were too busy hanging out and talking to each other. Most of us had never met face to face, but we've sure done quite a bit of chatting, sympathizing, joking, weeping, and sometimes cheering online.

After the walk, er, hangout, I rode the bus across town with a lady who is both visually impaired and in a wheelchair. She uses a guide dog to navigate our city, and she'd made her way across Tucson to share her story. Seems that her dog, a very quiet and benign fellow, has been attacked by pit bulls seven times. Yes, you read that right. Seven times.

Has she gotten help from officialdom here? Like the Tucson Police Department? Nope. Animal control, which is known as the Pima Animal Care Center? Uh-uh. We agreed that animal control is the most useless waste of tax dollars in our area. And it has some pretty tough competition from the city's downtown revitalization project, Rio Nuevo.

The organizers of Saturday's walk would like to see similar events happening in other cities. Great idea.

And, despite the fact that these same organizers received death threats in the days leading up to Saturday, the event went off without a hitch. I guess the people making the threats were too busy at their computers to come out and harass us.

Okay, now that it's 4:27 a.m. on a Monday morning, and I've been kept awake for most of the night because of barking, I have a final thought. For the victims of barking dog noise, I don't think a walk would be the best course of action. We're too tired for that.

So, how about if we converge, en masse, on governmental meetings and catch up on our sleep? We could don our jammies and bathrobes and head down to the Tucson City Council and have a sleep-in. That might just help us get effective anti-barking legislation like this.

Friday, October 26, 2012

This Week's Barking News Roundup - 10/26/12

This week's edition of the Barking News Roundup is dedicated to the hellhound across the street. Thanks for barking me out of a sound sleep at 6 a.m. this morning. I was hoping to sleep in. Oh, I have the same low opinion of your owner.

Barks vs. sirens dog Washougal

Excerpt: The city has a vested interest in reaching middle ground in the noisy conflict. It owns the property on which the Humane Society is located and acts as the shelter's landlord.

City officials say they hope to clear the air and bring peace between the two neighbors. The shelter has been in the same location for more than a decade. [The tax-paying business next to the barkophony] moved into its building about five months ago.

City officials say the two parties need to reach an understanding both sides can live with.

My take: How about this for an understanding? Keep the dogs quiet so that the employees of the tax-paying business next door can get their work done. You can share your thoughts on this story via Facebook.

Dogs beware: County proposing barking ban

Excerpt: The proposed barking dog ordinance says owners of dogs that howl or bark for more than 10 minutes during any half hour period after midnight and before 6 a.m. are subject to fines of $100 for a first offense. A second offense within 12 months means a $250 fine, and additional offenses after that are subject to $500 fines.

Tip: This story is open for comments. Follow the above link to add yours.

My life, or lack thereof, with dogs

Excerpt: Perhaps someone more Buddhist than I, perhaps someone with more tolerance and generosity of spirit, can put up with spasms of pointless barking throughout the day. But for me, it has the effect of applying a cheese grater to my cerebellum. Not to show my prejudice, but most of the dogs I hear are small dogs and -- I'm pretty sure I read this somewhere -- the barks of "yip dogs" as I call them are scientifically proven to be more deadly to peace of mind than the barks of larger dogs.

Tip: This opinion piece is open for comments via Facebook.

This Week's Barking News Roundup wouldn't be complete without an advice column question. Here goes...

Question: I have new neighbors that moved in up Stairs. They leave their dog alone all day long. The dog is barking non stop, my wife works night shift and it's impossible to sleep. Can they do this, and is there anything I can do? thank you

Found among the answers: I own the place, and people up stairs are renting. I spoke with the owner but it seems they don't care.

To which I say: This is why that oft-heard "talk to your neighbor" advice is so useless. You'll probably have a more productive conversation with a brick wall. Here's what Dr. Craig Mixon, creator of the website, has to say on this subject:

"In my experience, better than 45% of those who maintain noisy dogs are reflexively obstinate people who ignore polite requests and pathetic pleas, and will quiet their dogs only if you hound them for an extended period of time. Incredibly, an equal percentage are dig-in-your-heels, never-give-an-inch, hard core, incorrigibles whose perspective parallels that of Charleton Heston: i.e. you can have quiet when you pry it out of their cold, dead hands.

"At first blush, it doesn't seem possible that the rate of recalcitrance could be that high. After all, if you randomly selected ten people on the street and did a psychological work-up on them, you might find that one or two of them are chronically oppositional. But you would never expect to find that 90% of those whom you randomly evaluated, were predisposed to that kind of behavior. Nonetheless, if you take a close look at those who keep chronically barking dogs, the rate of recalcitrance does indeed seem to be that high."

The Department of Shameless Self-Promotion. Still want to try talking to your neighbor? I didn't think so.  But, on the off chance that they can read, you might want to start walking and driving around with the tee shirts and bumper stickers from the QuietBarkingDogs store. Who knows, they might just get a clue.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

This Week's Barking News Roundup - 10/18/12

Attleboro man gets 35 years in barking dog murder

Excerpt: A Massachusetts man has been sentenced to 35 years in prison after pleading no contest to fatally stabbing a man last year in a dispute over a barking dog.

Tip: This story is open for comments. Follow the above link to add yours.

Police Dispatch: The Pool is the Victim 

Excerpt: A trailer-park couple's "kiddie pool" was stabbed into nonfunctionality, according to a Pima County Sheriff's Department report.

A woman told deputies that she'd recently received a handwritten note—tacked to her trailer's door—from the people occupying the neighboring trailer. The note had reportedly complained about the woman's dogs, which "barked too much," and about a small plastic wading pool that the woman and her husband kept filled with water to let their dogs "cool off."

According to the note, the neighbors believed the pool had been attracting mosquitoes, the woman said. However, the woman claimed she and her husband dumped out the water and filled it with new water every other day or so.

Tip: This story is open for comments. Follow the above link to add yours.

Barking dogs a nuisance to the neighbors

Excerpt: The other dogs in the neighborhood don’t bark. I am retired and love my Westies dearly, but even I cannot stand the barking.

Tip: This advice column is open for comments. Follow the above link to add yours.

Animals in the House: A good watch dog

Excerpt: You may THINK he's "being a watch dog," but if he barks frequently, no one who hears him thinks, "I had better go see what Sparky is barking at!" Instead, they are likely thinking, "There goes that stupid dog again! 

Tip: This opinion piece is open for comments. Follow the above link to add yours.

The Department of Shameless Self-Promotion. Just when we thought the owners of barking dogs were oblivious to the noise, we have this week's story about the Westies that just won't be quiet. Will wonders never cease. If you'd like to further the cause of peace and quiet, head over to the QuietBarkingDogs store. Plenty of tee shirts and bumper stickers that let people know where you stand.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

This Week's Barking News Roundup - 10/11/12

Oakley leaders waiting on county to put bite in barking dog ordinance

Excerpt: Both the city and county have rules on the books that are difficult to enforce. Oakley's ordinance stipulates that a dog must be barking incessantly for at least 15 minutes or intermittently for 30 minutes for the noise to be considered a violation. Proving that requires an officer to remain on site for that length of time, which city officials acknowledge is not feasible.

The county's ordinance is similarly problematic because it requires people in two separate households to file a complaint before authorities will issue a citation. Bona fide violations often go unpunished because only one neighbor is willing to sign the form...

Tip: This story is open for comments via Facebook.

Resident seeks solution to neighbours’ barking dogs issue

Excerpt: [The resident] said there are 12 acreages near her home, with nine of them owning dogs, not including a local animal rescue in the area.

Out of a total of 15 dogs on the nine acreages, six are allowed to run free with no containment and three are kept chained to a leash or are behind an electric fence.

She said six owners leave their dogs unattended from 24 to 96 hours at a time and in this case, barking never ceases.

Tip: This story is open for comments. Follow the above link to add yours.

Editorial: Letting dogs bark constantly is rude

Excerpt: Yes, we may, indeed, have greater things to worry about in our world today - war, the economy, poverty and on and on.

But shushing their barkings dog shouldn't be too much to ask of our neighbors.

It's a matter of respect for others and common courtesy.

Tip: This editorial is open for comments. Follow the above link to add yours.

Shelter: Horn to quiet dogs creating a racket

Excerpt: A company located behind an animal shelter put up a horn to try to discourage the dogs from barking. But, the West Columbia Gorge Humane Society said it's their neighbor making all the noise.

The Department of Shameless Self-Promotion. Had enough of the racket? Tired of yelling at those clueless neighbors and their barking dogs? Rest your voice and drop by the  QuietBarkingDogs store. Plenty of tee shirts and bumper stickers that quietly and firmly get the point across.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Cause and effect?

Noticed the following news story this morning:

Flagstaff police investigate hanging of puppy

While we do not know what triggered this incident, the final paragraph of the story provides a clue: "The woman told officers police had been at her home about two weeks earlier after someone complained about her dogs barking, Jackson says. An officer could not find any record of a prior incident."

Hmmm... A previous complaint about barking noise. A complaint which has somehow disappeared from public record.

I'm going to venture out on a limb and say that someone got tired to hearing this unattended puppy barking and barking and barking and barking and barking and barking and barking and barking and barking and barking and barking and barking and barking and barking and barking and barking and barking and barking and barking.

And so the noise problem was taken care of. Permanently.

The takeaways: If you have a dog, don't just leave it outside for your neighbors to hear. Your neighbors have better things to do than listen to your barking dog. If you can't handle this level of responsibility, then don't have a dog.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

News Flash! Barking is found to be pointless

Although I usually limit the media stories to the weekly Barking News Roundup, this one couldn't wait...

It seems that researchers have figured out what we have long suspected. And that is the utter and total uselessness of barking.

Hampshire College researchers Raymond Coppinger and Mark Feinstein just spoke at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. And, guess what, these distinguished scientists said that the racket we're subjected to is pointless.

“It is repetitious, meaningless and functionless,” Feinstein said.

So, there you have it. Scientific confirmation. Of course, more research is needed. And I would suggest starting with the harm that uncontrolled barking causes to those who are subjected to it.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

This Week's Barking News Roundup - 10/03/12

Letter: Bark tax would provide stimulus

Excerpt: The Internal Revenue Service should set up sensors in neighborhoods that record the incidence of dog barking. The dogs' owners should then be taxed one penny per bark. The revenue gained would probably enable the national debt to be paid off within a year. The rechargeable bark-control dog collar business would probably boom, and within five years, America's neighborhoods would be quiet. Real estate values would also surge, work productivity would rise and the cost of animal control would plunge.

Tip: This letter to the editor is open for comments via Facebook. So far, there's a commenter asking the letter writer this question: "If you dislike barking dogs so much then why live in an area that has dogs?" Answer: Because it's hard to live anywhere on this planet without having to deal with barking dogs. 

More training, collar ordered for barking dog

Excerpt: Selectmen have received more complaints about a barking dog on Worcester Road, more than 18 months after its owner was ordered to take steps to ease the noise concerns.

"The longer it [the barking] goes on, the more crazy it makes me," said [a neighbor]. The barking interferes with conversations in her own home, she said. Discussions with the [dog owners] have not produced results, she said.

My comment: Just goes to show you that there are some people who have no business owning a dog. Because they can't handle the responsibility. And I think that in cases like the one described above, the dog should have been confiscated. Neighbors shouldn't have to put up with this sonic garbage.

The Department of Shameless Self-Promotion. Got clueless neighbors with chronically barking dogs? Don't yell -- you'll just lose your voice. Instead, start a neighborhood fashion trend via the tee shirts and bumper stickers in the QuietBarkingDogs store.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Today's Traffic Adventure

I was bicycling home from a meeting when I stopped at one of Tucson's busiest intersections. What should pull up to me but an SUV with a dog in the back seat.

The dog saw me and started barking. I guess it associated bicyclists with its list of Things That Must Be Barked At.

I wasn't in the mood to be barked at.

So, I yelled "Shut up!" at the dog. Several times, in fact.

Owner rolled down the passenger side and I was getting ready for a barrage of bad language from him when the light changed. Whew.

I didn't see driver or dog again. Thank goodness for that.

But this dog owner did nothing to stop his dog from barking. Nothing at all.

Another FIDO.

Let's just say that the final three letters of that acronym stand for "Ignorant Dog Owner." I'll leave you to guess what the first letter stands for.

The Department of Shameless Self-Promotion. Had enough of the FIDOs? Give them a silent, but effective piece of your mind via the tee shirts and bumper stickers in the QuietBarkingDogs store.