Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Barking

This all happened back when I was about thirteen years old and was at home with my mum and dad, and our two dogs, Sheba and Chips.
It was on a cold, dark, autumn evening when we were all about to turn in for the night when there was a knock at the door.
My dad, wearing his dressing gown,went to answer it and found one of our neighbours from across the road on the doorstep who was also wearing a dressing gown.
After I managed to stop Sheba and Chips barking the neighbour asked us if we'd heard the barking coming from the top of the embankment that was part of our back garden.
As the embankment was higher than our house, the noise had gone literally over our heads, but the neighbour assured us that the barking had been going on for nearly two hours and was still going strong.
My dad got a torch and went with the neighbour to investigate.
I watched from the doorway as they cautiously began to climb the slope towards the source of the barking and carried on watching as they ran back towards the house after the barking got rather louder and closer.
My dogs heard that barrage of woofing and decided to join in, which wasn't very helpful but it did send whatever it was that was making the noise on the embankment, back up to the top of the slope again.
My dad told us that it was a very large dog up there, probably a doberman or a rottweiler and after a quick discussion between my mum, dad, and the neighbour, they decided that the best thing to do was to call the Police to see if they could help catch the dog.
All this time the dog carried on barking. I reckoned it must have been at it for nearly three hours, and couldn't figure out why it hadn't lost its voice, but it must have been in a lot of distress to carry on so.
Anyway, the cavalry, or rather two police officers with a noose-on-a-stick thingy arrived, and they also cautiously climbed the slope while carrying a torch to see where the dog was and what it was doing.
My mum, dad and neighbour stayed to help round up the dog but I was told to go stay in the house and try and calm down Sheba and Chips, especially Chips, who by this time was bristling with rage knowing that a strange dog was on his patch, and he wasn't having any of it if he got loose.
So as the police, my parents and the neighbour tore around the garden after the dog, I tore around the house after my dogs as they ran from room to room, following the dog outsides movements.
And as they ran around, they barked.
And barked.
And barked some more.
After a couple of minutes I realized I could hear another dog barking somewhere. I listened carefully from an upstairs window and realized that my friend's dog who lived two gardens away had also joined in. As had the dog that lived across the road, the dog that lived further up the road, and another dog that was just passing by along with its human.
It sounded like all the dogs in the vicinity had joined in and were barking for all they were worth.
The noise was incredible. Now and again there would be a little howl from somewhere, but mostly all you could hear was barking from all around and drowning out nearly every other noise except for a very a large passing train.
I wish I'd had something I could have recorded it on, but even if I had been able to, I doubt I could have done the barking justice without the aid of some very snazzy quadraphonic speaker set up type thing.
If Dodie Smith had heard it, I reckon the Starlight Barking would have been a very different book indeed.
But eventually the police managed to catch the dog with the aid of their noose-on-a-stick thingy, and as I calmed down Chips and Sheba, the barking dwindled to the occasional 'wuff' and eventually ceased altogether.
My mum came back into the house and asked me to help make some tea for the police, the neighbour and my dad, and after putting the kettle on I borrowed the dog's water bowl and went out to let the stray dog have a drink.
The poor thing was still on the end of the noosestickthing, and was glaring balefully at the police and letting out the odd low growl, but straight away I could tell he was more scared than angry.
He gulped down the water in seconds, so I filled it up again and after making the tea, got the poor dog a bowl of food.
Again, he emptied the bowl in seconds before turning to me and giving a huge burp which I decided to take as a 'thank you'.
The police and my parents were still very wary about the dog, but I felt so sorry for it I grabbed a couple of biscuits meant for the police, and went over to the dog and hand fed them to him before giving him a pat and a cuddle.
The police stared at the scene in amazement before turning to my parents and asking,
"Why couldn't we have just sent her up there with the biscuits in the first place?" as the dog snuggled up to me and chomped on the digestives.
Sadly, the police had to take the dog away, but after a couple of days we heard that he'd been safely returned to his humans who'd been searching for him after he ran off after being spooked by a firework.
Amazingly, the dog had travelled all the way from Kent before ending up in our back garden, and his owners had thought they'd never see him again.
For about a month after, each time a dog barked it was very shortly followed by a very loud "Shut up!" from the human nearest to it.
And I've never heard The Barking since.