August 04, 2020

Bark in the dark provides spark

I wouldn’t know Carl Ouellette of Caribou if I tripped over him in the 7-items-or-less express checkout line at the local Stop ‘N Shop. But this I do know: We are kindred spirits when it comes to the neighbors’ barking dogs.

Until now, I had thought that I was the only voice crying in the wilderness about the species, Canis familiaris, and its propensity to bark itself foolish for no other reason than that it is bored stiff and non-stop barking seems like a great way to make the world pay for it.

According to a story in Wednesday’s newspaper, Ouellette and a bunch of other Caribou citizens took their complaints about barking dogs to the Caribou City Council Tuesday night, not that it did them a whole lot of good.

A guy shouldn’t have to turn up the volume on his television set or shut the doors and windows in the dog days of August just to muffle the barking of his neighbor’s dog, Ouellette told the Council. Nor should he have to fire up the chainsaw, lawnmower or snowmobile to drown out the assault on his sensibilities.

Ouellette said that about four of the 16 dogs in his corner of the world bark for prolonged periods of time and, quite frankly, he said, he’s about had the biscuit on the deal. Ouellette and his group asked the city to extend its barking dog ordinance beyond the compact area of the community.

Caribou Police Chief Bob Long, who drafted the proposal, said the town has no laws covering dogs in rural areas that bark “continuously, day and night.” People who live there should not have to be subjected to that particular nuisance, any more than city dwellers should, Long told councilors.

But the City Council said Long and his group were barking up the wrong tree, and they voted unanimously not to change the ordinance.

In their defense, owners of the dogs in question said police protection in the rural areas is minimal, at best, and they employ the animals as watchdogs. Which is why their owners tie them up outside when they leave the place unattended. What good, after all, is a watch dog with nothing to watch?

Long said that while pulling guard duty most of the dogs “are lonesome and bored right to death, so they bark.” (I know the feeling, from my Army days. Sentry duty is the pits, especially between midnight and 4 a.m. out at the ammo dump, say, and howling at the moon can certainly seem like a viable alternative to deserting your post to chase the stray rabbit, no doubt about that.)

Still, a barking dog is a barking dog and a pain in the royal butt, no matter what the provocation might be. So Ouellette and his group certainly have my undying support in their quest to make Caribou an equal-bark town. One vote, one bark seems like a reasonable formula to prevent the joint from going entirely to the dogs.

Speaking of Old Dawgs, for the record yesterday was the first day of the rest of this one’s life. That’s because Thursday was the last day of a 37-year newspaper career that may not have done a whole lot for the advancement of serious journalism, but sure was fun while it lasted.

Time Marches On, and we can all be thankful for that because the alternative is that Time Stands Still, and who needs that gig?

To all of you who made the past four decades such a totally interesting/aggravating/gratifying/frustrating/worthwhile and memorable experience — and you know who you are — my sincere thanks. Let the record show that you are my kind of people. Color yourselves Beautiful.

At the moment, two days into my latest incarnation, everything’s cool.

So far, so good.

But consider this fair warning: Do not get all tore up over the prospect of writing “30” — that oldtime newspaper symbol for The End — to this particular lashup just yet. If a cat can have nine lives, an old dawg should be allowed a good half-dozen. That being the case, I will continue to write your basic Saturday morning drivel, albeit from a Winterport dateline rather than from the corner of Buck and Main, until the long arm of BDN management reaches out and mercifully pulls the plug on my new smart-bomb Smith Corona/Acer computer.

Now that I have been untied and no longer subject to a corporate leash law, I can go trotting off into the countryside as I damn well please. It is therefore my intention to come wandering through your town on occasion in search of the weird, the offbeat and the downright bizarre.

If that should happen on your watch, be halfway decent to me and I might just spring for the coffee, although I certainly hope you won’t expect me to leave the tip, too, humble pensioner that I am.

Kent Ward (BDN, Ret.) was the NEWS associate managing editor.

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