Everyone knows that cocker spaniels are uptight and a bit insecure. They are the canine version of Woody Allen: diminutive and a bit sad, often whiny, and barking at the slightest provocation.
I live next to a cocker spaniel, and while I have had very sweet moments with her, on balance she gives me little grace during my coming and going. Perhaps not surprisingly, she defends her owner–barking at me incessantly and like she’s never seen me or forgets our sweet moments–but is quiet and reserved, even bashful, when I see her during her owner’s absence. I suspect she is trying to earn her keep as a guard dog.
But everyone knows cocker spaniels will never be Guard Dogs. Guard Dogs are feared, but a cocker spaniel is not feared. It is a long-haired ottoman in motion.
And then there are the dogs on the other side of the fence. See Housing Situation diagram below.
The cocker spaniel (in chartreuse) is in either Position 2 at the side gate or, more often, Position 1 at the back gate off the courtyard as I drive in via the Gauntlet to park in the back yard by my garage apartment. I get barked at. Hearing the long-haired ottoman, the neighbor’s three dogs on the right come running to see what the excitement is. (It is the same every day, but as dogs are not so smart as cats, even if they are ten times as loyal, they think it’s a different 1998 Ford Contour and not the same one they’ve seen for two months with the same driver.) There is a chest-high faux wrought iron fence separating the properties. The two bigger neighbor dogs, a husky of some type and a brown mutt, run alongside and sometimes over each other, the brown mutt looking at the husky for encouragement, like, “We’re gonna bark at him again, right?” Then there’s a small gray dog, the size of a bullhorn, about which my landlady cautioned me once, “Don’t pet her. If you pet her, she will get very jealous if you go to pet any of the other dogs and she’ll try to bite them.”
My landlady doesn’t realize that this incentivizes me.
I was on my deck two nights ago, and the two larger dogs were barking at a neighbor’s unseen dog to the north. There was a slight opening at the bottom of the wood fence, and after consulting with the husky, the mutt started in, barking and tail furiously wagging. The husky watched with ears pricked up, tongue hanging out, panting. Tail raised in victory.
My father used to joke that during a slow part of any movie, the screenplay would surely indicate to the director, “Somewhere a dog was barking.”