Thursday, March 11, 2010

New Neighbors

The dog who lives next door barks all evening. He is a German Sheppard and his barks are deep, menacing. The kind of chilling fierceness that would scare away any would be intruder. But as the night wears on, the strong confidence of his barks gives way to a mournful howling. It sounds more like a desperate plea.

The Sheppard’s entire world consists of a second floor terrace which is about ten feet by twenty feet. It is enclosed on three sides by the walls of the house it is attached to. The fourth side, the side facing my bedroom window, is a 12 foot high wire mesh fence. In this confined space he eats, sleeps, relieves himself, and cries. Nobody seems to be living in the house. I’ve been told that the owners have been away on vacation for about a month. Once a day somebody comes to the terrace and hoses it down. The dried urine stains and the poop wash over the edge into the garden below. The Sheppard wags his tail and brings his ball to the caretaker, but the man wants nothing to do with the dog. He finishes washing the tiles, sprays the Sheppard’s bowls with water, then pours some kibbles into one of them. He leaves.

The dog whines and paws at the door the man left by. He whines and barks and howls for a long time. It tears at my heart. I talk to him from my bedroom window. He stands alert, his ears pointed towards me, his tail wags hopefully. But I can no more climb down and get inside his terrace than he can get out. In the end we both grow weary of the limited contact. He circles around the tile floor for a while then heavily collapses into a curled up ball. He will rest for a while. But the crying will start again. It will be another 24 hours before he has any contact and then only with a hired servant who seems to have no love for his job or for this dog.

Perhaps I am over sensitive. Perhaps I am projecting my own loneliness onto the dog. After all, he is in a safe and protected place, his basic needs are being met, albeit in a minimal way. But what about the need for companionship? What about the need to get out and walk around the neighborhood and sniff at the trees and see what is happening in the world? In his mournful cries, I hear a soul calling for help. I feel contempt for the neighbors I have never met.


  1. Dogs are social animals and are much happier when they receive attention and affection. I don't think you're projecting your own feelings on to the dog as much as you're responding to an animal in emotional, if not physical, distress.

    Insightful blog. Glad Gena H. recommended it.
    Look forward to reading more.

    Bill (sand2stone on Twitter)

  2. How sad. What's happened to the dog? Do I want to know?