The sudden rain sounds like a waterfall. Thick curtains of reeds along the driveway sway in the wind like giant green ocean waves. The driveway has turned into a fast-moving river. And the dogs are barking.
Soon after we moved to our present house we learned that several German shepherds lived next door. They considered they owned our place since it had stood empty for years. So anytime we walked into the front yard they barked ferociously. We talked to them and made friends, to a degree, through the fence. But still they barked. Were they just saying hello? Somehow it sounded more like, Leave this property, you are trespassing!
As time went on, we realized these dogs, sometimes one, sometimes two or three, barked at the sound of sirens, at every hint of rain, thunder or not. A lightning storm threw them into an uproar of baying like so many coyotes. Our bedroom windows weren’t far from the dogs with their tremendous capacity for volume and prolonged disturbance. I prayed they would learn to be quiet.
I loved our new house but I really didn’t like the almost perpetual sound of heavy deep-voiced German shepherds. The barking didn’t bother Charles. After all, he had lived with barking dogs at the animal hospital for fifty years. It was normal background music to him when the dogs tuned up at the sound of a garbage truck or even airplanes.
You’re probably thinking there’s some dramatic end to this story. But the change has been gradual. The dogs still bark but I’ve become accustomed to them. When I hear them in the middle of the night I wonder if a possum wandered through or if they feel a storm coming. When they’re quiet I know all is well. Sometimes I smile at their playful yipping as they run about in their generous yard.
Right now the sky is brightening. The reeds are shedding silver drops. And the dogs are still barking. My prayer was answered, not by the dogs learning to be quiet, but by a change in my own attitude toward them. Their ears must hurt painfully when the high squeal of screaming sirens reaches them. Instead of groaning when I hear them tune up, I say “Bless their hearts!”