It’s a Dog’s Life…

I have just spent a small fortune on dogs and, no,  I haven’t made a successful bid for the Crufts champion.  My association with man’s best friend  (I use the expression with tongue-very-much-in-cheek) is involuntary, my problem is the nocturnal din of these “domesticated”  curs.  Too long have I grappled with the enforced insomnia caused by the endless uproar of these frustrated four-legged Romeos.

When I heard about the miser who installed double glazing so his kids would not hear the ice-cream man,  I saw the answer to my prayers.  Ice cream is no worry but the idea of a sound-proof house is like being guaranteed a gilt-edged pass through the pearly gates.

Here,  at last,  was a solution to my problem,  a chance to rid  my sleepless nights of the yelping,  yapping and howling of these mangy mutts whose owners are either deaf or overdoing the Mogadon dosage.  I have concluded this because I cannot believe I am the only one who is bothered by their howling hullabaloo all night long as they tunelessly serenade from high-walled gardens and home-made kennels or garden sheds selected for their acoustic properties.

The nightly uproar begins at about one o’clock in the morning.  This must be the canine equivalent to pub closing time as all these satiated suitors,  having been stuffed to the point of obesity on their favourite canned marrow-bone jelly,  concentrate on their second instinct, and howl like hungry wolves, craving carnal fulfilment.  The fact that, being securely incarcerated,  they are wasting both their time and their energy makes it even worse, prolonging their plaintive appeals until the sun peeps over the horizon.  One could almost admire the persistence of their futile chorus, night after night for hours on end, yearning for nuptial fulfilment.  Their obstreperous rumpus penetrates my deepest slumbers whenever I am foolish enough to retire early.   As the captive ones howl they draw strays from miles around, bringing the decibel level close to what it must be in Ballsbridge during a Bruce Springsteen concert.  Maybe that’s why the bass part of a loudspeaker is called a woofer!

I don’t know a lot about the much extolled law enacted with indecent haste some years ago to control dogs and quite obviously I am in the majority in this regard.  I haven’t checked the official figures on what any effect,  if any,  the statute has had in controlling the dog population in general, but I do know one result.  Whoever is running the show has either exempted my area or they have rounded up all the strays and released them in this neck of the woods.  Whatever became of all the plans for wardens and dog-catchers rounding up strays?  Such was the enormity of the problem we were assured that the entire nationwide scheme would be completely self-financing and we would not have to fork out fortunes from the already over-stretched exchequer,  i.e. your pocket and mine!  The magnitude of the financial penalties threatened for such offences was enough to make Barbara Woodhouse turn to budgie breeding.

The plan,  it was confidently forecast, would soon ensure that any dog roaming free would immediately be nabbed and carted off with great haste and a minimum of formalities to the nearest pound (and there would be one nearby – regardless of where you live)  where it would be remanded in custody pending collection by it’s owner who would have to dig deep in the wallet and cough up for the fine or see his precious pooch dispatched  without further fuss or ceremony to the great kennel in the sky.  That quaintly deceptive  metaphor “put down”   was the order of the day.  Unfortunately, someone appears to have tipped off the dogs and they have so far,eluded all efforts to, eh, bring them to heel, so to speak.

I have often observed these marauding packs during the day, wandering in hordes, driven by their two great appetites: to scavenge for food and to ensure the future of their species,  with little regard to variety!  None have collars,  so we naturally conclude they are strays,  but this would be a false assumption.  You see,  if you put a collar on your little darling,  it can be traced to you,  and you would face stiff penalties.  Leave the collar off and Bob’s your uncle, no identity, no pay!  The risk of your mutt being hauled off by the scruff to the pound is not worth bothering about,  let’s face it,  how many dog licence detector vans have you seen cruising in your area lately?

You could be forgiven for concluding from this that I dislike dogs,  but nothing could be further from the truth.  Nor,  indeed,  do I dislike people,  it’s the combination that’s causing me problems.   People will insist in keeping two great big hulks of Labradors or Doberman pinschers (of the same gender, naturally) in the two up,  two down town-house (what we used to call terraces before someone spotted a market opening).  Add to this that the childless (by choice) couple in residence are career yuppies competing to outdo each others bank balances  and spending all their time pursuing that goal and you begin to get the picture.  The unfortunate over-fed, under-exercised animals’ only excursions to the great outdoors are confined to those rare Saturdays when there are no rugby internationals or golf championships on the telly – providing, of course, it doesn’t rain!

So now I am at peace with the dog population.  I have muffled their efforts to keep me awake.  I have built high walls around my house to keep them away from my bins (what do you do about cats and birds?) and out of my flower-beds,  such as they are.  I can close my windows at night and hear … not a thing.

And so you may quite naturally assume that I no longer have any problems sleeping.  Not so.  My trouble now is that when I keep these totally draught-free and airtight  windows closed,  the house becomes so stuffy I can’t sleep.  Now I lie awake in the silence,  remembering that I used to be kept awake by dogs howling, happy in the knowledge that I have put this problem to bed.

It’s a dog’s life… or am I barking up the wrong tree?

© Ronan Quinlan

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