The Dogs in the Backyard or How I came to Contemplate Animal Cruelty

I love animals. I do. I have had several pet dogs in my life, even though my parents weren't particularly dog people. Once I met my wife, it became clear that I would also become a cat person. She has never had less than two cats. We had been married just over a year before I finally gave in and let her adopt a cat. We got Susie.

Susie is some form of Siamese mix. She's beautiful, but a bit bitchy. She either wants petting or doesn't and there is absolutely nothing you can do to change her mind about either one. She also has a terrific vendetta against houseplants. Seriously, last winter we moved in all our potted plants (literally dozens) and one by one she dug them up, destroyed the roots, and scattered dirt all over the house. We tried rocks on top of the dirt, we tried saran wrapping or tin foiling the top of the pot, we tried red pepper, we tried...well...we tried everything. Susie was up to the task.

The day we adopted Susie, Ella had gone to the adoption site by herself, picked out the cat, and then gone to Wal-Mart to get cat supplies. On her way to pick up the cat, she stopped to get me. I went with her to the adoption site, and immediately fell for one of the dogs they had there. A pit-bull, Catahoula cur mix by the name of Bullet was the one that caught my eye. He seemed lonely, dejected. All the other dogs ran to the fence when someone approached, but he stayed back in his corner. He seemed to know it wouldn't do him any good. His tail had been bobbed, badly. As soon as I got close to him, he looked up and licked my hand. I put him on a leash and walked him around. I was in love...except for the name.

So now we had Susie (the hyperactive, sometimes angry Siamese) and Otis (the pit-Catahoula with a mangled tail). But our little family was not complete. Nope, this 1500 square foot house was just too empty. We needed more company. That's when Ella brought home the stray. A tabby cat had been living in the Art Annex on our college campus, but had recently been attacked pretty badly by the other stray cats that lived around the building. One of the older students offered to pay for the veterinary bills, if someone would take her home. That's how we got Autre (that's French for Other, as in the other cat).

Now, at this point in the blog, you might be thinking, "Surely Joel has not introduced us to his animals just to describe his plans to brutalize them?" No, I have not. The dogs (there are as yet no cats on my Death List), do not belong to me. We live in a very dog-friendly neighborhood. We have big yards (considering the house sizes), wide streets with relatively little traffic, and a huge cemetery a block away that is perfect for dog walking. I haven't done any scientific studies, but I would be willing to bet that in the five blocks immediately surrounding our house, dogs are at least as prevalent as people.

I think this is great. Whenever we walk Otis, we always end up running into someone else walking their dog. If Otis happens to get away from us, the neighbors aren't angry they just point him out to us or even bring him back themselves. It's a great neighborhood.

These WERE my feelings until three nights ago. Thursday night I lay in bed awaiting sleep, but sleep wouldn't come. It was held at bay, by not one, not two, but a whole chorus of dogs relaying some urgent message to each other by barking in tandem. Every time it seemed as though they had died down, and I'd finally get some sleep, another dog would pick it up and it would start all over again. Friday night passed much the same way. Last night I actually fell asleep fine, but this morning at 8:30 (actually 8:30, so 7:30 since we "fell back" last night) I was roused by the Dog Tabernacle Choir. For some of you 7:30 may not be that early, but remember, I'm an AFTERNOON DJ. I don't go to work until 11am. Mornings are not my thing.

Sure, I laid in bed (not sleeping) and thought about the myriad ways I could silence the dogs. I'll admit poison crossed my mind. I even recalled that I have a baseball bat under the bed. Of course, I'd never act on my inclination to injure these animals. They are (after all) God's creatures. But, man, are they loud creatures.

So, now that I've vented my frustrations a bit, allow me to suggest this: If you have dogs (particularly if you are one of my neighbors that has dogs) please, keep them quiet at night. For directions to the nearest store selling muzzles, just call me.