Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Barking Mad

I don't dislike dogs, but I've never owned one, and was not raised with one as a family pet.

Frankly, I see this as no fault, much as I admire such loyal and faithful companions.

Why can best be explained by a lesson in my formative years. It was a balmy Southern California evening, with nothing much on TV, and little constructive I felt like doing.

What follows may help to explain the ancient Greek adage: "Beat your child once a week. Even if you don't know why you're doing it, he will."

I went and found my baby brother (who stopped being my little brother long about 4th grade, when he began to outgrow me) and we headed out to the back yard. Then we climbed up the barred window of my father's workshop, and onto the garage roof. It was the one place where we knew no adult would ever be, and our parents had long since stopped trying to keep us off of it, usually warning us only to avoid falling off and killing ourselves.

This night, it was a stage. Because we had cats, whereas nearly every other neighbor had dogs. I'd never been to their houses or yards, but I knew this was so.

I demonstrated this contention to my baby brother thusly:
"Watch this."

Whereupon I began, rather convincingly, to bark, yap, and woof. Like some scrappy mutt, I kept at it, growling, barking, and generally annoying the bejeezus out of the neighbor's two hounds. So they started barking back at me.

BB thought this was cool, but I was just getting started.

Walking to the opposite corner of the roof, I barked some more. In no time, I had the other neighbor's faithful yard patrol barking back at me.

I barked more. Louder. More frequently. Soon the dogs beyond each neighbors' house began barking back, which only intensified the dogs nearest us. I continued.

In a matter of 2-3 minutes, I'd succeeded in getting every dog in a 20-house radius to bark their fool heads off, each in turn aggravating their fellows all the more.

Then, I stopped, sat down, and basked in the cacophony of canine commotion I had ignited.
It was raucous, terrible, horrible, and glorious. It completely drowned out my laughter and that of my brother.

In another eternal 2 minutes of howling madness, porch lights began snapping on, spreading down the block like ripples on a pond, and owners' voices could be heard shushing, yelling, and berating their pets roundly and scathingly.

The din ebbed, and I immediately began egging them on, quickly rousing one and all to full voice once again.

Porch lights snapped back on, and now owners could be seen and heard going out and corraling their animals.

At this point, exuent myself and my padawan brother, having successfully killed almost 15 minutes at no cost to ourselves, with a form of entertainment whose price was above rubies, as we returned inside the only house in the neighborhood shrouded in a cocoon of blissful peace.

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