Every neighborhood has at least one dog who makes the humans living on the same block a little crazy. He barks at inappropriate times during the day and night, growls a little more than others at delivery people, and is good overall at making himself known. My question is: In my neighborhood, is that my dog?
Riggins is an 11-year-old German Shorthaired Pointer. I sometimes wonder what my neighbors think of him. Recently, I’ve become aware of a few things that make me think Riggins may be driving my neighbors crazy.
Other pet parents crossing the street
German Shorthaired Pointer’s are usually mostly brown, mostly white, or mostly black. Riggins falls into the mostly black category. His other parent was a Samoyed, which means he has the height of his bird dog mommy but gained some girth from his fluffy white pop. When walking the neighborhood, I’ll keep him next to me to “walk pretty” so sidewalks remain passable. Apparently, we are a frightening pair because more often than not, another dog owner will cross the street when they see us coming.
This reaction seems somewhat rude to Riggins and me. What did we do to deserve such a wide birth? Riggins may be big and look mean, but I assure you he is a lover not a fighter, and I’m adorable. What’s the problem here?
Riggins and I currently live where our yard backs up against the walkway of a grouping of condos. That means people are parking on the street and walking right by the fence. When we first moved here, I attempted to train Riggins to ignore those on the other side of the barrier. It kinda worked — a little. All right, I admit it, it didn’t work at all.
Here’s the thing. It’s been just Riggins and me living alone together for 10-plus years. I always allowed him to bark out the door as people came by. He is my alarm, protector and first responder. That means the “barking hour” (aka 5:30 to 6:30pm when people get home from work, park their cars on the street and slam their doors) Riggins lives for each day is really more my fault than his.
I suppose it doesn’t help that my landlady’s three little dogs share the backyard, and we often have an extra pup or two that I’m dog sitting. Riggins is usually the leader of the dog barking gang. He’s a born leader.
One of our neighbors is an adorable child. The caregiver will hold her up so she can see the pups in the backyard over the fence. I know the little girl is there when I hear all heck break loose. I’ll calmly walk out saying, “look everyone, it’s your friend,” picking up one of the little dogs to hold up so she can see better. The little human seems to like her interaction with the pups, including the big black one who is nonstop barking at her. The caregiver, on the other hand… I’m not sure she is as sold on Riggins’ somewhat menacing sounding greeting!
Protecting the car
One look at my car and it’s obvious that it actually belongs to Riggins and his canine friends. I could have washed it yesterday and you would still find nose prints on the windows, dried-up slobber trailing at a slant from the window to the back tires, and a plume of dog hair that escapes whenever a door is opened. I’ll admit, it’s a little gross. I’m okay with that because Riggins loves it. He adores when I say “want to go for a ride?” Even with the arthritis that has caused him to slow down a bit, he will pop up as if to say, “HECK YA I AM! LET’S GO!”
The car is his, and he does not like when unauthorized humans get too close. We park on the street in a crowded L.A. suburb. That usually means there is a neighbor parked in front of and behind us. If that driver just happens to be coming by when Riggins is in the car, he is most likely going to bark at you to back up.
He likes his car to have a nice human-free buffer around it it all times. That is unless we are going through a drive-thru. In that case, he has no problem letting someone lean in to hand over a bag of delicious items. He does, after all, have his priorities.
Now if you know Riggins, you would think it is silly that anyone would be afraid of him or think he was a nuisance. Years of dog sitting has made him ridiculously tolerant of almost any fellow pup. I once took him into a small dog park for a dog friend’s birthday celebration. When a couple little dog parents were concerned, the birthday boy’s mom replied, “Oh he is fine. That’s Riggins. He’s good with everyone.”
Sure he has a few types of people he doesn’t care for, but in general he wants nothing more than for you to rub behind his ears or massage his arthritic hips.
Yes, he barks. Sometimes he can bark a lot. I’m okay with that, and I hope my neighbors are too. He is my darling baby boy, and to me he can do no wrong!
Let’s hear from you, readers. Is your dog That Dog in the neighborhood? How do you handle the situation?