My neighbors have finally come home for the evening after being gone all day. I can’t even see their house from my house, but you know how I can tell? Because their dog’s all-day-long monotonous, mournful barking pattern has switched over to frantic bursts of yowling yaps interspersed with whining and squealing. That means his people are on the other side of the glass patio doors, where he can see them and they can see him—and hear him, too, along with every other resident of this block—but there’s not one single thing he can do to get where he so badly wants to be: with his pack.
I can’t see this dog from my yard, only hear it, so I have no idea of its breed or age or sex or size or temperament (I’m just using “he” by default). I don’t know if he has food and water, or a dog house to shelter him from the weather, or a companion who doesn’t bark. What I do know is that he is trapped in a smallish yard surrounded by 6-foot fences on all sides, he is out there all day and all night every day and every night, and he is mighty unhappy about it.
This, to me, is nothing less than animal abuse. That dog is frantic, and his people are home. What the hell is the matter with them that they are willing not only to make their pet suffer like this, but also to force the whole neighborhood to listen?
I let my dogs out in the yard during the day and leave them out for a while if the weather is nice. If the weather is not nice, I stand at the door waiting for them to do their chores and return to the house. If I leave them out and they start to bark, I call them in. They spend their days in the house, either on the bed or on the couch. They spend the night in my bed (under the covers with their heads on the opposite pillow, no less). I can’t imagine leaving them outside alone in the cold and the rain and the dark. They’re not livestock. They’re not wild animals. They’re the most thoroughly domesticated pets you’ll ever find, and their place is as close to me as they can get.
I won’t tear your heart out with stories of dogs forced to fight for sport, dogs chained in back yards all their lives, dogs abandoned and left to die when their owners move away, dogs overbred in puppy mills, dogs thrown away like trash in the night, dogs dumped in shelters when they get too old or too sick or just stop being cute anymore. We’ve all heard the stories. Man’s inhumanity to man is exceeded only by his inhumanity to animals.
Instead, I give you this commercial from Pedigree that starts off sad but has a very happy ending. In my estimation, the single most important trait that distinguishes a bad dog from a good dog is the owner.
The distress calls from next door will go on without letup until the neighbors go to bed tonight. Then their poor dog will finally give up his quest for their attention until morning, when he will begin again.
It’s enough to make you cry. It makes me cry.