Powell, Wyoming: Where Barking Dogs Rule

If you live in Powell long enough, sooner or later you’ll hear someone tell you how friendly, how neighborly our town is. That being the case, I think this is a good time with summer approaching to challenge the dog-owners of this community to zen on that word “neighborly.”

Having lived here for over 30 years now, I think my experience and viewpoint regarding barking dogs has been rich to say the least—especially in the summer when the windows of the house are open at night. Air conditioning is nice, but there’s nothing like sleeping with fresh air coming through the window, unless that fresh air is accompanied by the sounds of a neglected dog barking in the wee hours of the night.

Just in my neighborhood alone—on both sides of my house—I experience at any given time of the day (or night) barking dogs that are left unattended while their owners are often away, going in and out of a house via “dog doors” into a fenced yard to bark at anyone who happens to walk past the property. Across the street, it’s the same scenario, though I’ve never heard this dog in the evenings. In all of their barking in the daytime and frequently at night, I’ve rarely seen or heard an owner correcting the problem. What am I to make of this? As I see it, these are people of our community who are simply not good neighbors and are so lazy as dog owners to only care about their own self-centered lives.

I challenge anyone to take an hour-long walk on the streets of this town—especially the alleys—you’ll have plenty of dogs barking at you.

I should be clear here, that I’m not only talking about dogs that bark all night long—although that’s not an unusual thing to happen around here. But, if one is a light sleeper, it doesn’t take a dog to bark all night long to ruin a night’s sleep—ten seconds of barking is all it takes to disturb one’s sleep. At 63-years-old now, once I wake up from such a disturbance, it often takes up to two hours to fall back asleep. 

In the past, when I’ve initially addressed some of these owners in a polite, but curt manner, rather than an apology and a promise to address the issue, I’ve experienced downright rude and even threatening responses. And, taking my complaints to Powell’s illustrious Law Enforcement is simply a waste of time as they have requested me to document the various instances of such disturbances and report back to them at a later time. God forbid they find out for themselves—getting out of their car and walking down the street or alley. Instead they just drive by and maybe they’ll stop by the owners and inform them that someone is complaining, but nothing ever comes of it—not to my knowledge. I know they have visited with one of my neighbors in the past on this matter, and yet the barking has never ceased. From a policing viewpoint, that’s just lame.

A barking dog next door should not be my problem to solve. And perhaps I’m the only one in Powell that objects… so it seems. My only reprieve is throwing an occasional firecracker out into my yard—hoping that the canine will stop its annoying behavior and perhaps run into the house and shit on the carpet. That’s probably overly optimistic. However, the coming of the colder months when windows are closed up and the barking dogs of Powell aren’t as likely to be left out all night—though sadly, some are—is when this problem is truly minimized.

I have this unproven and very opinionated theory that the frequency of any given dog’s barking is inversely related to the intelligence of its owner. Go ahead and prove me wrong. Until then, I’m convinced that Powell, Wyoming is below average when it comes to being neighborly.

I’d like to believe our town can do better.

Postscript: What’s saddest of all in this topic, I wrote about this over 20 years ago.

Barking Dogs

The arrival of summer is always a welcomed event with the exception of two elements that I’ve come to associate with the season and living in the city proper of Powell. It would be wonderful to go on writing about all the positive things of summer and living in this part of Wyoming, but no one wants to read about nothing that isn’t happening. So, it’s on to the business of complaining.

Besides the fact that we have a considerable mosquito population here in the middle of a desert, I see another problem that gives me even more concern than the excessive water consumption in a desert town that could be plopped down in the middle of Indiana and not one Hoosier would notice.

Although everyone has been going on about SARS lately, the epidemic of dog ownership is bringing me to my knees. Everyone seems to have a dog. In particular, a barking dog. And so my real concern is directed at those citizens who turn their dogs loose in their tiny, fenced-in city lots so it can bark and bark and bark. Although summer is still down the road, my bedroom window is finally and permanently cracked open (at least) until late September. Yet, on this particular Sunday morning (April 13 to be exact), I was awakened by a neighbors excessively barking dog at 5:00 a.m. I repeat, summer isn’t even here, not a mosquito have I seen, and I’ve already encountered the true scourge of summer—barking dogs on early Sunday morning. I think this is a bad omen.

And when I hear such a dog violating my quiet time, I instantly start referring to it as “stupid dog.” Yet we all know who is really stupid in this scenario.

Laying in bed in an attempt at the novel idea of sleep once again, all I can think of is, “What kind of person can allow their dog to go on with a litany of barking and not be annoyed themselves? A stupid and inconsiderate one to be sure.”

Perhaps it’s the person who has big plans (or not so big plans) for the day and needs to get an early start for work or recreational purposes. Sure, they know it will be a nice day so the last thing they do before they jump in their pickup is leave the dog in the backyard and forget to consider the neighbors whose bedroom window is only across the street, alley or small strip of yard that separates the two homes. I suspect these are the same people who believe their children are the smartest in their class and would never do anything wrong.

Than their are those dog owners who let their dog out at a civil time in the evening to take care of its business only to forget about it as they proceed to get themselves tanked that night inevitably leading to their passing out on the couch with the TV or stereo still blaring. Ah yes, ignorance truly is bliss in this scenario. Barking dog? Hell, they don’t even hear the police banging on their door when someone like me complains. My question here is, how many six packs does it take to make a dog (seem) quiet?

I often wonder if I’m just overly sensitive about this subject. Are their others like me who are fed up with barking dogs? Whatever the fines are, whatever law enforcement there is about barking dogs, it’s not enough.

Maybe I dreamed it or maybe I read it somewhere, but isn’t the amount of barking by any given dog indirectly related to the intelligence of its given owner? That being the case, perhaps anyone who has the police called on them because of a barking dog should automatically be forced to take the G.E.D. exam on site. I suspect many would fail it. And given the fact that they would fail, along with a stiffer fine, I propose they be stripped of any titles, certificates or degrees in their possession at that time—including their driver’s license.

The sad thing about my letter is that the community of barking dog owners probably won’t or can’t read this—hopefully the former.

I used to like dogs when I was a kid, in fact my family had one too, but it never barked excessively or on and on into the early morning. I’m trying not to be prejudice about dogs. I still like them, but these days it’s getting tougher. Lately they remind me of rap music—annoying, obnoxious and in my face.

Seems like I remember a few years ago where someone was going around poisoning the local dogs in Cody, was it? I didn’t give it much thought back then, but now I suspect I understand how that unfolded. Although such acts are wrongful and despicable they are mostly misdirected.

Postscript: About a week ago the home next to mine exchanged owners. The new owners have two dogs that bark at me everytime I step out into the back yard. I sure hope they get used to me.

Postscript2: Two years later and no such luck regarding the situation next door. Their dogs are as retarded as they get while their owners are beyond inconsiderate. There went the neighborhood. The only reprieve is they don’t leave the hounds out all night, but on several occasions have let them out early on weekend mornings to give the neighborhood an unappreciated wake-up call.