My dogs, Scrappy on the left and Cholla on the right.

My dogs, Scrappy on the left and Cholla on the right.

I’ve settled into bed, whether from an early evening or a late morning, and I am certainly not feeling like getting up. As I drift between sleep and consciousness, a natural alarm system wrenches me back to the waking world: the dog starts barking.

In my case Scrappy, the brown cairn terrier, starts barking.

Scrappy has a sharp bark. It isn’t the most high-pitched bark I’ve ever heard on a dog, but it’s loud and not terribly pleasant. It carries easily through the walls of a modern house and over the music in your headphones. It isn’t easy to ignore, though I have witnessed conversations carry on through the blitzkrieg of Scrappy’s barking somehow.

I don’t always know why it starts. Perhaps he heard a neighbor’s dog start barking. He might have heard a neighbor’s car door slam and thought it meant someone had arrived at our house. Once in a while, I have no idea what gets him going. If I’m up and about, I can just exit my room and tell Scrappy “NO” in no uncertain terms while making eye contact with him. If he’s very excited it might take a second command, but usually he stops quickly enough.

When I’m comfy in bed or in the middle of a video game sequence I can’t pause (or don’t want to pause), I might not care enough to go tell him no. In that case, he’s happy to keep barking, punctuating his insistence even through the pillow over my head.

I wonder sometimes if he is trying to be dominant or spiteful in some way, as if his ability to make noise is the one way he feels he can assert himself. I wonder if he knows I can hear him, and he feels he has struck some little victory if I don’t exit my room to shut him up. Then again, a part of me wonders if he just wants attention, like a child getting into mischief. He might be barking just because he’s bored or lonely and he wants me to come and quiet him.

If I don’t, he can bark for a couple of minutes sometimes. He doesn’t bark forever, obviously, but longer than seems necessary to any real purpose. It’s the dilemma I face. Do I give in to laziness and let him bark himself out, or do I get myself up and stop him? Either way, my previously comfy state has been disrupted for some period of time. No matter how many times I get him to stop, he just loves to bark. By the next day, or even after several hours, he may be at it again.

As for Cholla, she has the bark of a much larger dog, more low-pitched and serious. She is content to let Scrappy run things however, and rarely barks unless there is Real Danger such as an unknown person or creature.

Interestingly, when we have a lot of guests over to the house, the dogs seem to get overwhelmed and eventually go sequester themselves away in a dark corner under some furniture. I guess the people are barking too much for them.