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Barking Up the Wrong Tree



As I'm sitting here unable to get more than a couple of hours of sleep, my mind tends to race and wander, and for some reason tonight it keeps coming back to this one situation from a few years ago.

This took place before we moved to the Paulding County area, We were still living in a very small subdivision where many of the owners had pets. Most of the owners were very responsible and kept their pets in their back yards, almost all of which were fenced in with tall privacy fences. However, there were a couple who simply refused (for whatever reason) to fence their yards and, instead, would allow their pets to roam free or would tie them out on ropes/chains, as was the case with the dog who lived across the street from us. The owner was, it seemed, rarely ever home, so the dog spent much of its time unattended and tied in the yard. Its favorite pastime was to chase squirrels and cats that would come within its view; however, because the dog was chained, it had a limited view and could never quite sink its teeth into the nimble critters. That didn't stop the dog from barking, and boy, did it bark! The yard was surrounded by various types of trees, and these were the favorite escape route of one cat in particular. The cat had figured out that if it ran up the tree closest to the dog, it could easily jump to another tree closer to the fence on the next yard and get away. The dog, however, would just pull and tug and strain to get loose from the tie that bound it, barking up the wrong tree the whole time for the next hour or so or until something else caught its attention.

Now, as the neighbor, I found this whole scene to be sort of amusing at first--after all, the cats and the squirrels seem to take particular pleasure in tormenting the dog once they realized they were essentially safe. However, as the barking continued almost incessantly, it became a tiresome nuisance. After all, it's impossible to stop the nature of a dog, a cat, or a squirrel. There seemed to be no real solution--yelling at the dog to hush did no good because it didn't recognize the authority of anyone other than its master; the neighbor was almost never home and couldn't really be reached for complaint, and I doubt that talking to him would have done much good anyway; and trying to show the dog that the cat it thought it had treed wasn't *really* in that particular tree was futile. It was quite the conundrum.

I'm not sure exactly why this has been on my mind tonight--I suppose that although amused by the craftiness of the cat and other critters at first, I really ended up feeling kind of sorry for the dog. All that energy expended for nothing--barking up the wrong tree because of its own limited vision and refusal to learn from its past mistakes. I suppose to some extent we are all creatures of habit whether they serve us well or not. It's kind of sad if you really think about it. I would have to hold out hope that eventually we can evolve past that. -_-


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