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.