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Of Dogs, Music, and Children
When I was a kid we had dogs. We had an American Water Spaniel named Benzaldehyde (don’t ask), a Springer Spaniel named Tippy, two Dachshunds, Spritzel (German for sprinkler, write your own joke) and Samson, so named because he was completely at the mercy of an alley cat named Delilah.
When I was grown I owned Greyhounds: Cassius, Park’s Line and Torpedo. Wonderful animals, all.
I have always liked dogs.
What annoys me is people who don’t seem to care about their dogs, their neighbors or their children.
Most of my neighbors are wonderful, thoughtful, delightful, quiet people. I have a reputation among a very few of my neighbors as a dog hater, but it’s not true; it’s not the dogs I dislike, but the people who don’t care enough for their dogs to give them the proper care. And the esteem of these few is not something I actively seek.
The other day I had to call the animal control people at the Sheriff's because a dog was barking for hours on end, which is against the law in Boulder County. And a neighbor who lives next to the barking dog (which is almost half a mile from my house) told me that I shouldn’t do that, because “this is the country.” But the owner was away. So the dog was bored and the owner didn’t have to listen to it bark. And the closer neighbor puts up with it because “this is the country.”
A few days later I encountered the barking dog and its owner walking along Cabin Creek Road. The dog wasn’t on a leash. Leash? Hey, this is “the country,” pal, dogs don’t have to be on a leash! Well, “country” or not, meeting an unleashed Doberman on my morning walk is not my idea of fun, and apparently the Boulder County Commissioners and the majority of voters in the County feel the same way.
“It’s the country” is an interesting concept, and at one time, of course, it was true. When my grandfather walked down the old stagecoach road to this place in July of 1917 there were exactly three owners on all of Big Owl Road, Katherine Garetson, John Grant and the Robinsons. A month later it was Katherine Garetson, Edward A. Steiner, and the Robinsons. That, my friends, was “the country.” Today there are 10 houses within a quarter mile of my house. And although we may erroneously think of it as “the country,” there is just about everything you can have in any city and most of it takes less time to get to. We also have laws designed to maintain order, and they get more restrictive all the time. Just ask anyone who builds a house or puts in a septic system. Still. we think of it as “the country.”
That idea, as stated by this no doubt well meaning person, seems to imply a notion that we can disobey the laws we have in the city because the “country” is somehow “different,” but that simply isn’t true. Oh, some people ignore the laws and they justify it on the basis that “this is the country,” but it still isn’t true.
So they let their dogs run loose, even though (see below) it’s clearly against the law. They leave the dogs alone, so they get bored and bark and annoy the neighbors, but what the heck, “it’s the country.” Some people seem to think that dogs have rights, which is a silly idea, or that they’re like people: “Oh, that dog’s always been a problem child,” the neighbor told me. Well, it’s not a child. It’s a dog. And it needs proper care. If you can’t give a dog the care and attention needed to keep it from interfering with neighbors’ lives, then you shouldn’t own a dog. That, in essence, is what the law is all about; take care of it, or pay a fine.
Excerpts from Boulder County Resolution 88-27, dated 16 February 1988
Section 4. “(a) It shall be unlawful for any person owning or keeping a dog to fail to prevent such dog from disturbing the peace of any other person by loud, persistent and habitual barking, howling, yelping or making any other loud, persistent and habitual noise whether the dog is on or off the owner’s premises. “
“(d) The warning process to be employed by the Animal Control Division shall be as follows:
(1) The Animal Control Division will give such warning after either of the following circumstances: a phoned-in complaint which the Animal Control Division investigates or two phoned-in complaints from different households which are not investigated.”
The offender has three days to correct the violation. If the violation continues or if it recurs within one year, the offender is subject to the following fines:
First offense . . . $25
Second offense . . . $50
Maximum Penalty . $300
Section 5. “It shall be unlawful for the owner of any dog to fail to prevent the dog from running at large in the entire unincorporated area of Boulder County. Any dog off the owner’s premises or not on private property with the permission of the property owner shall be under leash control or within a vehicle or similarly physically confined so said dog is with access to passers-by. A dog is presumed to be at large if injury, damage or trespass has occurred even if said dog is under leash control”
I like music, too, and I have a big stereo system. Virtually every cabin here has a stereo, and many have compact disks, television, tape decks and multi-mega-watt stereo systems. As I wrote in an earlier column, I once had to walk almost half a mile to ask a distant neighbor to turn down the music. All his doors and windows were open and he was working outside and he wanted to hear the music, and after all, “this is the country,” isn’t it? Most of us have listened to a distant thumping as someone enjoyed some heavy metal, while the wildlife moved up another thousand feet.
I like motorcycles, too. I’ve owned several over a period of 25 years. But I have little patience with parents who allow small children to ride unlicensed motorcycles, on a numbered county road where the speed limit is 20 mph, at speeds over 40 mph. It may be “the country” but it’s hard to understand how parents can have so little concern for their children’s safety on a narrow road where people in trucks routinely exceed the speed limit around blind curves.
So let’s get it straight; I like dogs, music, motorcycles and children. I don’t like people who disturb the peace, endanger others or risk their children’s lives by being thoughtless and thinking that just because this is “the country” they can do anything they please without having to account for their behavior. And I will bet that that’s how most people feel.
© 1985 – 2003, David E. Steiner
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