There is a cream-colored puppy who lives in our apartment complex and we’ve named him Cadbury. He follows John and me when we jog and we see him sitting here and there with various residents and guards, who are always coo-ing at him and lavishing him with attention.
I’ll admit that I’m a cat person, but I still think that some dogs are cute sometimes. In the middle of the night, however, the cutest, most adorable dog is one that’s quiet and ideally sleeping, especially in the hot season in third world countries where there is no air conditioning and the windows are wide open.
I struggle to love, or even just not to loathe dogs when they keep me up all night barking. Middle-of-the-night-barking when my mind is lucid and yearning for rest causes me to think thoughts like:
Perhaps the impoverished people here could get an education and find work if they weren’t so exhausted by that goddamn dogs barking all night.
It’s true that malaria has been dubbed a major “game-changer” in world politics and local economies. Countries that are stricken with malaria have a significant disadvantage over those that aren’t, but personally, I tend to wonder about dogs. How do dogs contribute to economic problems? I know that I’m pretty pissed when I can’t sleep because some dog barked the whole freakin’ night. Maybe the Maoists would be less prone to fighting if they could just get some rest. And if all those kids living in shacks made of cardboard and plastic bags could just get a good night’s sleep, maybe they’d be able to learn English and history and make a better life for themselves…
There is a dog here in Kathmandu that I have never seen. He (I’m assuming it’s a male) lives somewhere outside our bedroom window. The first night we were here, he barked for only an hour. Then, it started to rain and the barking stopped. I was relieved and even thought that perhaps Nepali dogs were better behaved than those in Latin America. But last night the barking lasted from sunset until daybreak.
The ordeal started as just an intermittent woof with long, irregular pauses between notes that lasted just long enough for me to fall asleep believing the damn dog had finally tired out for the night. And then another dog joined in. I lay there, listening to the barking, trying to visualize the perpetrating dog. Certainly, it was a hideous creature caked with mud with mangy fur and fleas.
I remembered Oreo, a dog that had lived next door to us in Costa Rica. We’d felt sorry for Oreo and even loved her while simultaneously hating the dog who barked incessantly throughout the day, just outside our window with that same sort of irregularity– yip…yip………yip.yip…..yip—as last night’s dog. One day we realized that Oreo and the yipping dog next door were the same animal.
I’d pictured myself kicking that faceless, nameless dog so hard that she’d land in another neighborhood. When I found out it was Oreo that I’d have to kick, I wasn’t so passionate about my vision, but frankly, I still wished for some peace and quite.
I wondered about little Cadbury as I lay in the dark in our Kathmandu apartment. Was he the guilty party?
Eventually, John got up out of bed and he and I crossed paths in a little area between the bathroom and our bedroom. We whispered to each other hateful, awful things about what we were gonna to do to the dog. Since we were both awake, but very tired from jetlag, our decision-making skills were compromised. We sat together in a state of weary desperation on the edge of the bed, holding hands weakly, with sleepy eyes trying to come up with a plan-of-action.
“We need the white noise software on our phones.” I said to John.
“The white noise is already on…” John said dispassionately.
I had been wearing ear plugs, but I had only taken one of them out to talk to John. I took out the other one and realized that the white noise was simply no match for the dog.
John stood up then, in the stifling, humid air, to close the window. Still, we could hear the dog.
“How is that possible?” He asked me, exasperated.
“He has to wear out eventually.” I said slowly, sleepily.
Together, we decided to move the white noise to a location closer to the head of the bed. I gave John some earplugs and repositioned mine.
John fell asleep shortly after that, exhausted.
I was not so lucky. The dog began yammering and I marveled at the skill with which he could control his voice. It was operatic. I realized then that the bark…bark……..barking earlier in the night had been just a warm-up for these new sounds that were almost words. This dog was no newbie. He used his pipes every night and rehearsed his scales like a virtuouso.
Each time I fell asleep, I awoke to the sound of the dog whining, whimpering, neighing, and sighing. He cried, growled, and then he wailed. His intonations rose and fell and rose again sharply, the notes of a terrible song. He admonished another dog that occasionally participated in the discourse. I began to imagine a silent, stealthy little arrow that flew through the night straight out of my imagination, needle sharp to penetrate the dog right in the brain. Moments later, in my mind, the dog would explode.
This morning, Cadbury went jogging again with John and me. He is always very quiet as he nips at our heels playfully and John and I oohh and aahh at him and tell him he’s a good dog.