The Dog Mumbler

So I’m going to let you in on an extraordinary tip-for-life which I’ve just discovered. I’d appreciate it if you could keep it to yourself though, this stuff doesn’t grow on trees.

I’ve mentioned before a little about my relationship with dogs (we’ve done cats too but let’s not revisit that fiasco). I’ve told how dogs seem to respond to me and how I think this is because I am at least twenty per cent dog myself.

What I didn’t mention last time was how much I really like dogs. I’ve owned a few in my younger years and they played a big part in my life. I don’t have any now because I don’t feel I could give one the time it would need from me. And therein lies the (tummy) rub: I really hate to see dogs who are not well attended to by their owners.

I don’t mean obvious neglect or abuse – obviously we all abhor that – I mean the more subtle avoidance of basic rations of care and attention.

I reckon that dogs need to have their place in the world reaffirmed to them on a fairly regular basis. They need to know who their boss is, or else they become unruly and even aggressive. The simple proof of this is the sheer delight one can see in a dog who has a great relationship with his owner, the respect and adoration which is so cheerfully given.

So it annoys me to see very many dogs around who are left off to do their own thing without their owners ever giving them any clue as to where they stand.

What’s this all about Ken, eh?

Okay. As I walk to and from work every day, I pass several houses with dogs who bark madly at everything that enters their field of vision. Their owners haven’t bothered their ass to take the 30 minutes to explain to their dogs that barking is not required so they bark and they bark. Their owners curse them, the neighbours hate them and I feel sorry for them.

Well , eighty per cent of me does…

The other twenty percent of me is pure mongrel and it doesn’t like being barked at. “This is my territory”, the doggy part of my brain says, “ and if you try asserting all over me, I will bite you on your furry ass.”

So, up until recently, as I passed the barking dogs, I would tell them to ‘be quiet’ in reasonably firm tones. All right, I would occasionally shout. And always – always – the dogs will stop barking. It’s a weird thing I have going for me - dogs listen to me. I think I can explain it but I won’t here, the comments would murder me.

It’s all quite satisfying, in a perverse way. The dog barks, I tell him to be quiet and he obeys. But it’s a bit uncouth too – me letting rip at the dogs everyday. I started to feel that it was a source of free amusement for the neighbours. “Here he comes, watch, he’ll shout at our Rover in a minute.”

Then, quite recently, I made my breakthrough discovery.

One morning, I was a long way down the street when the black dog (you know the one) appeared over his gate and started barking. I suddenly remembered a book my brother had years ago called ‘The Magic of the Senses’. I remembered how dogs could smell tiny particles of stuff and hear, yes, hear really well.

I reasoned, if he can hear that well, I don’t really need to shout at him, do I?

From my vantage point in the distance, I distinctly muttered, ‘Shut up’ to the dog.

He shut up. He really did!

Ever since then, I’ve been assuming a Clint Eastwood growl from great distances to encourage my neighbourhood canines to cease and desist. I haven’t failed yet. And the neighbours are bemused at my lack of shouting and cannot figure out what I am doing, which is rather fun.

This, then, is my discovery. You don’t have to yell at errant barking dogs. If you mutter at them with sufficient authority they will hear and obey.

Maybe that’s where the word ‘Mutt’er actually comes from.



Susan at Stony River said...

MUTTer ha ha!

Ok, I need you to come over and kick dog-ass with my neighbour's dog. He thinks he's Guardian Of The 'Hood and just barks about everything that goes by, like some made canine town crier: A CAR WENT BY! JOHNNY'S GOING TO THE PLAY PARK! I JUST SAW A SNOWFLAKE! BOW WOWOWOWOW! I think his owners are deaf.

Anonymous said...

lol Yes I had to laugh at 'Mutt'er too. Hilarious Ken.

I'm pretty sure I've never yelled a dog. And a general "Shhhhht" will suffice to shut one up. Though I tend not to surround myself with dogs so I don't have as much proof of that.

hope said...

I sometimes wonder if those types of dogs are merely requesting, in their native tongue, a little assistance with escape?

"Hey Mister, could you lift the latch and let me out?"

"Yo dude, what you having for dinner tonight?"

"Excuse me sir, do you have any idea how to train a human so that they respond when I call, rather than making me yell?"


Yeah, my dogs have me well trained.

Kat Mortensen said...

Hi Ken!
Couple of things: Firstly, I need you as well, to come and put the wind up the pipsqueak poodle next door (yada yada yada!) and secondly, I am a Cow-snorter! Yup. You wouldn't expect it of me, the Kat, but seriously, I can pull an Emma Woodhouse when it comes to cows. I snort and they come from across the fields to check me out. What's next, you ask? Elephants. That's my goal. I'll be a mahout in another life.

Speaking of elephants - I haikued today!

We would love to get a dog - preferably an Irish Wolfhound, or a Great Dane.

I hate to see dogs neglected. I am of the "belly-rub, ear-scratch, nose-nuzzle, run-with-the-pack" school of dog-owners. I need to get one. Soon.

Great post!


Anonymous said...

As usual, a great story told in a way only you can manage. I will be giggling all weekend. Thanks.

Rachel Fox said...

Yes...sometimes I worry that I behave in too unconventional a fashion...then I read of your adventures...and I feel fine.

Dave King said...

It's the dogs that dog you that present the problems.

Anonymous said...

MUTT-er. That's a good one!

I'm like that, only with babies. No matter what, babies and kids gravitate to me. Crying kid, hand 'em to me and they'll stop. (Of course, the duct tape helps.)

Ken Armstrong said...

Susan: I can come round but I won't kick his ass (he's not a cat... oops). I will mumble to him a little and then he'll be fine. I do mumble some *serious* abuse though. :)

Reggie: Surround yourself with dogs sometime, it's liberating.

Hope: Yes, it's worrying of dogs are actually speaking, saying something like, "excuse me, can I just let you know that there's a big asteroid coming and you really need to dig yourself a hole". And I'm saying "shaddap you fool." BWT got your email, did you get mine?

KAt: I think I'd quite like a dog that went Yada Yada Yada - he's be a great novelty, for five minutes at least. A friend of mine used to have a dog who went 'BARK'. Exactly that word - 'BARK'. He was a literal sort of a hound I guess.

Lyndi: You are too kind, no, wait, you are just-right-kind, don't go changin; :)

Rachel: Ha! Love it! You always make me feel good about my odd behavior.

Dave: I am dogged by dogs indeed but I am doggedly determined to prevail. :)

The babies in our neighbourhood don't tend to jump up the fence and screech as poor passing pedestrians but I will keep your super-powers in reserve for when the need arises. :)

Jena Isle said...

I'm not really fond of dogs, I find them unruly, generally. I did read your previous comment about how dogs "listen" to you. My son has five dogs, but they don't listen. Perhaps they need each more time? I'm not sure, so they are all on a leash. But I have one pet dog years before which I cried for when he died. (do I use "who" here Ken?) I wrote a story about him in this URL:

Thanks for sharing a unique experience Ken. God bless.

Reese said...

Aren't you the alpha dog! I enjoyed this post, mainly because I'd rather hang with dogs then people any day! I have two currently, both rescued. One from a shelter and one from two teenaged boys who couldn't manage to buy both beer and dogfood. Beer won!
I would love to know what my one dog is saying when he barks. It's probably something like, "would you get a life, already, and leave me alone!" Or, more likely, "play, play, play....."

Anonymous said...

lol you've made a funny picture in my head where you walk down the road with all that dogs, awesome story Ken. When I was younger we used to say 'hvorfor ble du mullemutt?' - 'why did you become silent?'. (mutt is silent in Norwegian) Oh and Mutter is mother in Norwegian. Or nut! (the steal thingys) lol oh eh why do I say this.

Anonymous said...

Haha... what a beauty Ken - spot on mate!
About three year ago we started our young family, and whilst one of my dogs then was able to adapt, the younger one of the pair (male) wasn't able to do so quite so easily, and really struggled.

3 years of sleep deprivation meant that it has been a pretty basic existence for all of us, and I couldn't have my good mate missing out like that. So, just recently I made the call to send him to my folks place, where he now wanders freely about like a right Lord of the Manor. He get's his pick of the sunny spots now to bask in, and doesn't have a kid swinging off him every five seconds.

I'm a Bardi fella me (my Aboriginal mob or clan) - and we're connected to our 'country' in many ways. One of these is through our individual 'totems' (not the right word - but it'll do), and for me that's a Dingo, through my mother's side. If you saw my mother with dogs - you'd recognise it immediately yourself... being such with dogs in your own way perhaps?!

Dogs and kids... some interesting parallels there that I'd better not explore (we'd just get in trouble) lol, this IS your blog after all Ken - it'd just be rude of me... cheers ;-)

Unknown said...

Funny stuff!!! saw you on the CMF forums and stopped by to say hi

Ken Armstrong said...

Jena: I thinks the unruliness of dogs is one of their endearing qualities. In moderation though.

Reese: I didn't want to say that but, yes, I think I am. :)

Oyvind: Interesting - Mutt means silent in Norwegian? Mutter must derive. Of course 'mute' fits in somewhere too. Cool! :)

Belongum: Your comment has made my day! You've provided a little authority for my sincere theory that I am part dog and you describe heaven for a dog, "... having his pick of sunny spots to back in". Brilliant! thanks. :)

georgie: Thanks. See you over at CMF Forum, which is a great place, y'all should come over! Click on the link under the four grouped adverts at the top right of this page. :)

Debbie said...

I communicate with my dog as well, a beautiful and dignified Golden Retriever. He has been telling me that your messages have been quite different from a simple quiet down or shut up. In fact, your stories of naughty pups is what has them all so stunned and thus speechless.


You know, that's one of those brilliant observations that should be canned and sold. You would be a millionaire!

Anonymous said...

Ken: I'm pretty sure it will also be very smelly.

Ken Armstrong said...

Debbie: Yes, you've revealed my secret, I'm really muttering gags of such vulgarity that the dogd in the street are silenced in shock. :)

Susan: 'You could be a millionaire' is the story of my life. The sequel 'but I wasn't' :)

Reggie: I don't understand this (weeps) I just don't understand... :)

Matthew S. Urdan said...

Cool post. Well written. And a topic dear to me own heart as well. That is correct. Shouting at dogs is not required. That you are a mutt is also quite correct. We have that in common. Dogs respond very well to me, in that regard, I'd say most dogs are smarter than people. Now if only we could get that chihuahua in Congress named Pelosi to stop barking. Cheers!

adskinetics said...

The last very sad thing happen to our pets took last year. He got wounds on the back, I clean it many time with hydrogen peroxides and povidone iodine solutions and pour on his wounds powder of antibiotics, but and few days when we decided to bring him to the veterinarian he's gone. Now his dad, is lonely with nobody to play with but us... I almost cry when my brother-in-law bury our younger dog(fletcher)... as I can feel that the older dog(pogi) is mourning for the lost of his son.

Reese said...

Just an update on my comment. My dog is eating my deck. Right now, as I type! He's very nonchalantly chewing on the railing--as if it's an appetizer for better things to come. I'm getting ready to mumble! Good thing he's cute.

Molly The Dog said...

It's only fitting that Molly the Dog is now following your blog.

Mark Chaddock said...

Yo, Ken - I agree that some dogs are badly neglected - some owners out there are heartless b.......s!
I just lost our gorgeous sheepdog of 12 years - to old age I might add.
People who can't provide dogs with the care and respect they deserve and leave them barking don't deserve to own such loyal and loving animals. Period.