Monday, April 21, 2014
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Out & About • Patrick Lacombe | The tree climber

Most of us have climbed trees as kids. It was fun and relatively safe, as long as you didn’t try to scale the trunk all the way to the top. It did not cost anything but time, which we seemed to have a lot of in the summer months while on summer break from school. Building a tree house was a must for any imaginative and adventurous child and led to hours of fun shooting imaginary foes with our toy guns as they lurked in the bushes. However, this is not a story of sweet innocent children playing in trees. It’s about a tree climbing dog.


I do not know this dog’s name so I will call him Spot, even though he is solid brown with no markings at all. He is a small dog and looks like a cross between a Dachshund and a Chihuahua. He has that high-pitched bark that most small dogs have and it easily pierces our insulated walls. Spot lives behind us and his backyard is separated from ours by a six foot tall privacy fence.
There is an old stately oak in Spot’s backyard with three trunks growing up and they are so close together that he easily climbs to about eight feet and peers into our yard.
Now I really don’t mind Spot looking at us as we try to enjoy our patio or work in the yard. In fact, I love dogs and have one myself. I’ve had dogs most of my life but every one of them have been kept inside except for their potty breaks or exercise time. The thing that bothers us is his constant barking. We can handle it in the daytime, but at night when we are trying to sleep, Spot will climb up his tree and bark nonstop at anything that moves including the many deer that hang out in our neighborhood. I’m a fairly easy going person, but when it comes to my sleep, I get annoyed. At first, I would open the back door and yell, “Would you please shut up!”  Of course, old Spot can’t understand English and I had yet to master dog language, so he would respond with an even more aggressive yap- yap, yap- yap. I would then retreat into the house thinking of ways to possibly outsmart him. Little did I know that this tenacious pooch has the perseverance of General George S. Patton and would not quit until he had me defeated.
The next day I devised a plan to scare him from climbing his oak tree. I bought one of those air horns in a can that fans take to ball games and decided to blow it when Spot barked from his perch. I walked out my back door and right on cue, Spot heard me and began his nonstop barking. I walked up to the fence, pointed the air horn at him and let out a 10 second blast. Spot cocked his head to one side, silent for the first time since I walked out the door. I swear, he looked at me and I thought I could see an evil grin appear on his face and I could almost hear him thinking, “Is that the brilliant plan you came up with?”  Then Spot unleashed what I can only explain as doggy expletives, and proceeded to bark nonstop again for about five minutes straight until I retreated behind enemy lines into my home. To punish me, he continued to bark another ten minutes until I gave up and decided to go back to the store to see what else I could find to win this battle.
Walking down each aisle, I searched for the perfect weapon to teach Spot a lesson without harming him. Then it suddenly hit me. I came up with an idea that I was sure would appease both sides and bring on the much needed sleep we desired and still let Spot climb in his tree and bark his little head off. I grabbed the item, paid for it and went home to try it out. I’m proud to say that this item works and now we don’t hear him bark at night anymore.
We turn our box fan on high at night and the hum of the motor drowns out Spot’s yapping. It’s a little cold in the winter, but in the spirit of compromise, we just add another quilt and drift off peacefully.
As for Spot, he’s up in his tree barking as I write this. I’ve learned to speak a little of his language and I swear I just understood him to say, “You better not misquote me in your column or I’ll bark louder and drown out your fan”! You win Spot! Game well played. God bless y’all and have a great week!