An October column, “Dude The Barking Dog,” described a pet-induced sleep deprivation issue in our household. I asked readers for suggestions and received a number of splendid responses. Dude is still barking, but I’m happy to report a little bit of progress.
Lanier suggested Dude attend a dog training school, or that we return him to our son who granted us custody. I talked to Dude about school, but he showed no interest. Unless his attitude changes, more education would be a waste of money. Plus, he doesn’t like to be away from home at night. I’m a homebody too, so I’m sympathetic to Dude’s preference for his own bed.
Seth could take him to the country, but there aren’t any fences to keep him out of the highway and he doesn’t seem to understand the concept of traffic. When we walk the dirt road beside our house, Dude can be stubborn about letting vehicles or farm equipment go by. Eventually he’ll allow them to pass, but not until they slow down enough he can sniff their tires.
Judy said his barking shows he’s protecting us, something I had not considered. Now when Dude gets cranked up, I’m unsure whether to fuss or give him a treat. She also mentioned a medication prescribed by her vet because of her Callie Belle’s incessant barking during thunderstorms. We tried it for a week and slept much better but the taste was awful.
Smitty explained that the barking doesn’t mean our dog is afraid of trains. Dude is letting us know he wants to take a ride. Smitty suggested I buy Dude an engineer’s cap and put him on the SAM Shortline for a trip to Plains. Having immense confidence in my friend’s advice, I called to buy a ticket. Dogs and small children, I learned, must be accompanied by a responsible adult. I’ve been trying to think of one.
The other issue with a train ride is that only service animals are allowed in first class. When the nice lady asked if Dude was a service dog, I wasn’t about to lie. “No mam,” I said, “He’s never been in the military. I was going to send him to Camp Safety Patrol for a week, but it’s closed and I don’t think they plan to reopen.”
Marlene shared advice that got my attention. She had a problem with her Siamese cat chewing computer wires. After trying multiple deterrents without success, she found that blowing a party horn did the trick. Now she only has to show the horn to the cat to prevent a relapse.
As I was looking online for party horns, thinking I’d need a supersized one, I ran across a little silver whistle. It seemed like a logical option, plus it came with a decorative chain to hang around my neck. The whistle I ordered, however, was stuck on a cargo ship out from California, so the seller gave me an upgrade for a few dollars more.
It came with two triple-A batteries and a button to press. Kids sure have it easy these days. When I was a boy, we had to blow our whistles. Now it can be done with a thumb. Dude stopped barking the first time I used it, but it has too many decibels and no volume control. The high-pitched tweets shattered a light bulb and caused the garage door to go up.
We asked our neighbor, Ken, if Dude’s antics ever wake him. He says he doesn’t hear him unless he goes outside for a smoke. If Dude is barking, Ken howls like a coyote and says the night becomes quiet. We tried that same approach, but apparently Jane needs to work on her howl. I’d go myself, but my CPAP machine is too much trouble to take off and put back on.
Jane came up with a plan that began with great promise. Dude doesn’t like water, so she hung a hose on the fence and had a talk with him. For a week or so, when he barked excessively, she pointed the nozzle and pulled the trigger. Being tenderhearted, however, she didn’t spray him. She just hit the aluminum downspout to the gutter. It made some noise and got his attention, but he caught on quickly.
So, I’m back to shining the flashlight through the bedroom windows in exchange for brief periods of calm. I am, however, resting exceptionally well between barks, now that I understand the barking is for our protection. Some mornings I’m quite sleepy, but I’ve never felt safer in my life. Dude is still barking, but that’s okay. We’re making a little bit of progress.