I Killed a Dog

Monday, 30 March 2009

I have had a really unpleasant experience with a small dog. And it really has little at all to do with the actual dog, truth be told. It’s to do with its owner.

When we moved into our gorgeous new house about 2 months ago, the kids ran inside from the back yard giggling through a snatch of words released from my husband’s mouth, which I happened to overhear - “Don’t tell mummy.” Yes, they had been told not to tell mummy there was a cute little dog next door.

Now, let me just make something clear here. I adore animals. I just don’t want pets – you can read my other blogs on this phenomenon. It’s not because I don’t like pets – it’s because I don’t want the responsibility of taking care of them. In a nutshell, I’m too busy and too allergic.

Nonetheless, it didn’t phase me a bit that this little dog lived next door. Sure, it would bark a bit in the day and evening – and although I most certainly would have preferred if it didn’t (am I alone here?), it did NOT bother me.

What did bother me, though, was when the dog started barking THROUGH THE NIGHT last month. Now, cute or not cute – this is where I draw the line. There were some nights where I was literally awake all night (my husband sleeps through most rampant barking and woodpecker attacks on the side of his head) and could barely function the next day. It was horrible and became very distressing. It came to a point where I became stressed, anxious and dreaded going to bed at night, and even regretted moving into this house.

This was no way to live.

I did try to contact the owners, but they were never home – and indeed, were not home through the night sometimes, leaving this dear little dog to fend for itself. I left very polite notes asking the owners to contact me. They didn’t. Finally, after one particularly bad sleepless night, I left a note telling them if they didn’t contact me that day, I would be forced to contact council.

Of course, I heard nothing all day. Suspecting these people actually lived in Siberia and had no intention of ever contacting me, I shot a letter off to council that afternoon. About 90 minutes later, I got one of the most belligerent, ranting, aggressive phonecalls I’ve ever received in my life.

Yes, it was the cute little dog owner.

I won’t bore you with the incomprehensible rantings that came from his mouth, but just be assured that anyone who leaves their dog out all night to terrorise the neighbours – anyone who neglects their dog so desperately – probably really isn’t capable of making a calm, collected, diplomatic and intelligent phone call.

So I really shouldn’t have been surprised.

When the owner found out I had already contacted the council, he exploded into an even bigger rant, if that is at all possible. Hmm. Seems he could have been in trouble before… No surprise there, either.

I told him he was clearly incapable of communicating with me on this and told him council would be in touch with him, and hung up. The dog subsequently barked until 10pm, then silence all night.

Hmm.

The next morning, I got a polite text from the owner asking me to contact him any time if the dog woke me. Staggering around in shock, I saved his number in my phone and planned on doing exactly that.

The next week passed by event-free. Perhaps he was a changed man? Perhaps he didn’t want another in a series of whopping great fines? Who knows. But things were looking good.

Were.

Late last week, the dog suddenly began barking through the night again. As we were leaving for Melbourne on an 8 hour drive the next morning, you can imagine how happy I was to get three hours of broken sleep. It was devastating. At 2am, I did indeed contact the owner – I sent him three text messages but all went unanswered.

On the weekend, still groggy from our long drive and sleep deprivation and the angst of more sleepless dog drama ahead of us, I received a text on my phone. It simply said “I have put the dog down.”

I gasped out loud in horror. Ella, colouring-in in the back seat, said “What Mum? What?” I couldn’t tell her. I showed my husband the text. His face dropped open and this NEVER happens to my husband’s face. Ella pestered me for hours. I couldn’t tell her. I instead clutched at my belly and fought back the tears.

My friend said it’s not my fault. She said it’s the owner’s decision and frankly, the dog sounds like he’ll be better off in doggy heaven. She also said she reckons the owner has been in trouble before to go to such extreme lengths. She ALSO said he could be bluffing.

It hasn’t helped. I still feel sick. Last night, we spent a silent night wrapped in unbroken sleep but I woke this morning still sick to my stomach that I might have been solely responsible for this dog’s demise.

What kind of a man does away with a dog because of inconvenience? Could he not have given the dog away or found a way to keep the dog in at night? Why did he have to tell me he was doing this? To punish me? To torture me? Well, he has succeeded. He’s obviously as cruel to two legged animals as he is to the four legged kind.

I guess all I can do is hope that this man was bluffing and hopelessly vindictive, and that this little dog is indeed running free on a green field somewhere, barking its little head off. Let’s just hope it’s not a field in doggy heaven.

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