Hazel has always been a vocal dog. Around the house, among family, she whines, bays, cries, howls, and sometimes barks—the barks are reserved for anyone knocking on the door or delivering mail—but she really comes into her own when she’s out on the lead in the backyard. The neighbors off to our left have a big golden of some kind whose staccato woof will often get the other neighborhood dogs going; he and Hazel will trade gossip until we drag her back inside. There’s a fluffy dog two doors down who likes to prance around her yard and send Hazel into fits of jealousy. The neighbors two doors to the right have a boxer and a French bulldog who run around the yard together; this prompts fits of spastic barking that sounds like an emo band from the early 2000’s. I get it. This is what dogs do: it’s the Evening Barking from the original 1001 Dalmations.
All of this is no good. We can’t be the neighbors who have That Dog, and we kind of are. We’re up at 7AM and she goes out and screams her head off as soon as she’s downstairs: she can’t be outside waking everybody up. She’s been getting worse lately too—there’s a fox who likes to stroll through the neighbor’s yard and stop to gawk at her as she goes completely mental, desperately trying to get off her lead to give chase, barking and crying and whining and yowling like no other dog I’ve ever heard. It’s out of control.
So with a lot of hesitation and a shitty feeling, I strapped a bark collar onto her neck this morning, set to the lowest voltage, and let her outside. She gave one good bark, one quiet yip, and then wanted to come right the fuck back inside. I want her to bark at strangers when they come to the door, so it only goes on when she’s outside. She stands at the door as I strap it on nervously licking her lips. She’s not stupid; she knows exactly what the collar means even if she doesn’t understand why she has to wear it. I’m hoping that after a few weeks I can use it without turning it on, and eventually she won’t need to wear it anymore. But for now I feel like an absolute shitheel when she wants to go outside and I reach for that thing.