The new neighbors have two dogs. Little yippers, they are. Cute little things that they clearly adore.
The dogs do not adore me.
When I go to get the mail, or the paper, or sit on my swing to read or just to sit, or weed the garden, or sweep the front porch, or dare to breathe for just a millisecond outside my own home, they bark at me.
It’s not a ‘Hey, nice to see you’ bark. It’s a ‘What the hell are you doing here? Get lost, you human’ bark. Every single day.
The same irritating habit of mine that makes me unconsciously mimic human accents and inflections in conversation makes me bark back. I’m pretty good at the imitation, too. Low or high pitch, frequency of yips. Like a little doggie conversation. Sort of.
The doggie owners don’t know what to make of the barking coming from me.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t dislike dogs. I dislike being barked at.
I know a more reasonable reaction would be to yell at them to shut up. Or go over to pet them. Or smile and wave at their people. Or send them a pair of bark collars. Or download the App for silencing annoying barking. Or buy a drum set and contribute to the noise. But, undeniably, the simplest gut reaction is to just bark back.
So that’s what I do.