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Section Three of a four-part article:
Why Exposure to Chronic Barking is So Extremely Harmful

Imposing a Fundamental Change in the Essential Quality of Life

Think of all the TV shows and movies that have ever been produced. If you added those up, surely they would come to an enormous number. Yet there has never been a single production that featured an off camera dog, unrelated to the story, that barked frequently throughout the show. To a large extent, theatrical productions mirror real life. You can find some show that reflects every conceivable aspect of daily life, but no production has ever been set with a chronically barking dog in the background. The only television shows that ever have dogs barking continually, throughout a scene, are the reality based shows like COPS, where they take a camera out to the streets and record real-life events as they occur. Since chronic barking is a common element in real life, doesn't it seem odd for that one particular facet of our daily existence to be so totally excluded from depiction on the screen? It shouldn't; there are reasons why dogs never bark frequently in Hollywood.

The sound of a barking dog in the background would make every show less enjoyable. The nuances of the spoken word, like the strategic timing of a key line, would become difficult to manage. No comedy would be as funny and no romance would be as touching. No drama would be as absorbing. Every minute the viewer watched he would be struggling to push from his mind the tension and anxiety that are part and parcel of the chronic barking experience. The sound of frequent barking would change the essential experience of making and watching the show, just as the dog barking next door changes the essential nature of our homes and the way we experience daily life within them.

Creating Limits On the Use of Your Property

One of those things we all discover as we get older is that the way things are officially, and the way things are in reality, are often very different.

Officially, we all have the right to the "quiet enjoyment" of our property. That means your home is your castle and, at least in terms of legal theory, you have a right to expect quiet in that space. It also means, that, with a few exceptions, your neighbor does not have the right to do anything on his property that will interfere with your right to maintain and enjoy a quiet home. That's the theory, but the theory goes all to hell as soon as we factor in the barking laws, which are almost always next to impossible to enforce.

Where the anti-barking laws are unworkable, the neighbor with the barking dog is, in effect, absolved of all responsibility to control the animal. That means that, in real terms, the neighbor has a right to keep a barking dog, and that negates your right to the quiet enjoyment of your property. It's sideways. The irresponsible neighbor is awarded a de facto right he's not supposed to have, which negates the right that the rest of us are supposed to have.

If your neighbor takes advantage of the catch-22 nature of the barking laws and keeps a dog that barks frequently, you have no choice but to surrender to the dog much of your control over how your property is used. No doubt about it, under that circumstance the neighbor's dog is in the driver's seat. By barking, he can at any time force you to stop what you are doing, but you have no way of influencing his activities. So you must follow his schedule. You are powerless to force him to follow yours.

You can't call over the fence and make arrangements with the dog when you want to take a nap. You can lay down and close your eyes, but you can't sleep unless the neighbor's dog is in the mood to let you sleep. You may be upset and need a quiet place to pull yourself together, but the dog will determine whether a quiet space is available.

You may decide you want to work out of your house while telecommuting to the office. But you can't make an important business call with a dog barking in the background and you can't get your work done when every room in your house sounds like ground zero of the kennels of kingdom come. So it won't be you, but the neighbor's dog, that determines whether you make a long commute into town or spend your work days at home with your family.

It's no problem for you when it's your dog barking. If your dog's barking interferes with your plans, you can bring him in the house or take other steps to quiet him. When it's your neighbor's dog, it's an altogether different story. When your neighbor's dog fills your house with noise, it is you and not the dog that must make the accommodation. As odd as it sounds, it's true; while you control your dog's life inside your house, it is your neighbor's dog that controls your life inside your house.

You can't do anything inside your home that is inconsistent with what the neighbor's dog is doing outside. If he barks frequently, you can't relax at home, nor can you study, work, concentrate or have a mellow conversation or a tender moment. The neighbor's dog is in charge. He will not adjust his vocalizations to accommodate you, so you have to work your activities around him.

You can't have friends over for a quiet dinner. Dinner perhaps, but a loud, chaotic dinner is not quite the same thing. You certainly can't invite guests for an overnight visit and then situate them in a room where the neighbor's dog makes sleep impossible. And God help you if you must endure an illness in a sick bed dominated by the endless tyranny of a barking dog.

What's it worth to be able to sleep, nap, work, relax, concentrate, entertain and recuperate in your own home whenever you wish? What have you lost when an irresponsible neighbor takes that away from you? I can show you million dollar homes where the occupants can't rely on doing any of those things because the behavior of the neighbor's dog prohibits them.

Of course, the barking is merely the manifestation of a problem. The actual problem is the dog's owner who refuses to take control of his pet and, thereby, creates a situation in which much of the control of your life is transferred from you to his dog.

By controlling how much sleep and rest you get, your neighbor impacts your health. By controlling whether you are tense or relaxed, he transforms your psychological state. By controlling your ability to work at home, he impacts your financial condition and, thus, your future. When your neighbor so strongly influences your health, psychological state and financial well being, he holds heavy sway over the quality of your life and impacts the fabric of your relationships. I think it is seldom recognized how sweeping is the damage done by people who leave their dogs to bark unchecked.

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This page is part of the Failed System section of New Animal Control.Org