gall and gumption

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

That's Enough!

Our apartment is one of the two that is closest to the door. The dogs take turns sitting in the recliner next to the window and peering out. When you arrive at our building the thing that is most striking about the front entrance is the sight of Sweetie standing in the recliner and Misha's big head and ears, looking out the window and barking at you. Misha does most of the barking. She doesn't bark at most of the people who live in the 12 apartments in our building: she barks when my father comes home of course, but it's that "Ohmygod Openthedoor!!!" sort of excited barking. She barks at the teenage boy who comes on weekends to visit his sister, a lovely boy with brains and very nice manners. She barks at him because he is afraid of dogs.

All delivery vans are, of course, delivering evil, except the mailman, who they like. Well, they like him but he's a little scary. But he really likes them.

And they bark at Frank. Frank is a retired policeman from Maryland; having had some heart trouble, he now lives downstairs with his daughter who is a visiting nurse. They bark at Frank because he does not take them seriously. Frank's daughter has a Jack Russell terrier named Edgar. Sweetie is quite fond of Edgar; Misha has eyes only for my father, of course, and Oreo, a long-haired Chihuahua a few doors up whom she has a crush on. But Edgar or no, they bark at Frank. Frank then looks up from the door and makes remarks to them, like "And what's YOUR problem?" and he laughs at them. They can hear him laugh at them. So they keep it up until he is inside and out of sight.

At about 5:30 almost every morning Sweetie, who sleeps in the living room, suddenly jumps up, barks furiously at something, and then goes back to sleep. Misha does not participate in this mystery. She is to be found sleeping halfway under his bed, preferably having pulled some of his covers off it for herself.

There are times when Misha barks and barks at something and won't shut up. She doesn't even get up. She sits there on the sofa, or she's curled up on the dog bed, and she's barking and barking away, looking offended. "That's enough!" I yell after a minute or two of this. She looks at me reproachfully and apprehensively, and then she lets out a few more barks. "Hey. What did I just say." Then we get the muttering. I mean, if a dog could mutter that is what it would sound like, like she got the message about shut up but she still has a lot of cussing to do so she's just going to do it very quietly. So she emits these peevish growls, going up and down the scale, not quite giving up the point, you see.

My father's theory is that what makes her bark like this is Mrs. Graham. She actually likes Mrs. Graham. But Mrs. Graham has a high, loud, rather piercing voice. And she stands out in the hallway sometimes and talks to the neighbors. As long as Misha can hear her voice, she barks or does the annoyed growling thing. Mrs. Graham also offends by not taking her seriously. It amuses her that Misha barks continuously when she's talking to her neighbors in the hall.

On a different point that is related, if you have a dog do you ever meet these people sometimes when you're out with the dog? You can tell they are terrified of dogs because when they see the dog coming they freeze and stare straight into the dog's face, or begin to do some strange slow evasive dance. The effect of both these maneuvers is almost always to mesmerize the dog, who would have totally ignored them if they hadn't started doing their weird Kabuki of Fear. So now the dog is staring at them, trying to figure out what this is all about, and the person starts making these very careful moves to try to get around the dog or just out of its line of sight, all of which only makes the dog even more curious. They couldn't have succeeded better in getting the dogs' fixed attention if they had been holding a hamburger-scented squirrel in each hand. I've got the dogs reeled in close and they are leaning hard at the person, they can't take their eyes off him, they aren't barking, just -- fascinated. "It's OK, I've got them, just ACT NORMAL!" Really, the person could break the spell by just saying something like "Hey! That's enough!" or "Bugger off, you!" and the dogs would instantly get alarmed and scamper off, dragging me with them.


Post a Comment

<< Home