CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Confucius says a barking dog is often more useful than a sleeping lion.
But not to the barking dog's neighbor. Especially when the neighbor is grumpy and on deadline.
This particular dog would start a new series of ai-yi-yi's every eight Mississippis, although he occasionally miscounted by a second or two. For the most part, he was remarkably consistent. And he had been at it for hours.
The bad thing was that even when he did stop, my head would fill in the bark at that same pace anyway. Actually, the bad thing was that he was barking to begin with. That his owners either didn't hear him or weren't home or were choosing to ignore him.
To some degree, I could sympathize as I have my own obsessive-compulsive dog to contend with. As I typed these words, Murry, my 10-year-old Wheaten terrier, had been standing outside my home office door for nearly as long as the dog outside had been barking, except instead of barking, Murry had been licking the door.
Prior to being banished from my office, he'd been licking my chair, then my feet, then the floor. It's not a new thing with Murry. He's been obsessive-compulsive most of his life. He's a wonderful, albeit very dumb dog. I love him with all my heart, but there are times when he makes me crazy.
When he drinks water, for example. He drinks in fours. Lick-lick-lick-lick, stop. Lick-lick-lick-lick, stop. Never three. Never five. And always continuing until the bowl is empty. Out of curiosity, I've substituted his regular bowl with one that's much larger just to see what he'd do, but he refuses to drink from anything else. If his bowl got broken, I suspect he would die from dehydration. The dog is set in his ways.
When I complain of Murry being dumb, it's an observation, not me being mean. For instance, he occasionally likes to sleep under the bed. When he crawls under, he'll inevitably bang his head or back against the rails, making a somewhat gonglike sound which he mistakes for the doorbell. So after he gongs himself, he thinks it's the bell, immediately starts barking and races for the door.
Murry also takes his loyal dog code above and beyond. When I'm home, it's like I'm wearing Murry pants, except they're bagged down around my ankles. When I try to move, it's as if I'm trying to navigate around a constantly readjusting speed bump. He's where I am at all times.