As I write this, Barkie the Dog is barking.
Barkie lives at the house next door to mine. When he is inside, he doesn't seem to pursue his favorite hobby, which is -- not surprising -- barking.
But when his owner decides he needs to be put in his outside pen, Barkie uses the opportunity to work on his oratorical skills although he doesn't need to. Barkie no longer has to hone his talent. He is already a third-degree black belt of barking, a veritable Bruce Lee of the howl.
Some dogs have pleasant barks. There is a big St. Bernard and an older dog of indeterminate heritage both with homes a couple doors away that have big deep woofs, which they use sparingly. Meghan, who lives in my block, has a pair of the quietest dogs I've never heard. There's a fellow who lives around the corner who walks his little black dog around the neighborhood everyday. I never hear his pooch make even the slightest yip or yap.
Not Barkie though. Barkie seems to bark out of the sheer joy of barking. And he doesn't have a big deep woof, but this high-pitched bark. It's like nails on a chalkboard. If Fran Drescher barked, she would sound like Barkie.
Barkie will apparently bark at anything. A squirrel. A rabbit. A rabbit being ridden side saddle by a squirrel (truth be told, I might bark at that one). A leaf. A shadow. Another dog barking a mile away. His water bowl.
When I was a kid, we had dogs that stayed outside in their pens. When they barked it was usually because a possum or raccoon or some other wildlife had wandered too close to them and they wanted to scare it off. When this happened at night and if the barking persisted, my dad would flick on the outside floodlights and instruct them to "SHAAAAAA-DUHP!" with a bellow. Surprisingly, that often worked.
While I feel compelled to do the same with Barkie when he starts his high pitched howling, I don't think it is my place. He's not my dog.
I know it's not Barkie's fault. I think he's just lonely. I base this opinion on the fact that he never seems to make a sound when he's inside his owner's house. I guess what really puzzles me is that his owners seem oblivious to his howling since they are often times at home while he is serenading the neighborhood.
Part of me wants to stroll over to Barkie's pen during one of his practice sessions and flip open the latch to the gate while belting out the title song to the 1966 movie "Born Free."
However, I'm sure my efforts would be in vain and the dog would not escape its confines as I might wish. By the time I got to "Born free, as free as the wind blows, As free as the grass grows" I'm certain that Barkie would resume his howling.
After all, growing grass is another one of those things Barkie likes to bark at.