DEAR DR. FOX: My townhouse neighbor has three beagles who she leaves in her yard for hours; they bark and howl a lot. I have tried a little device that was supposed to emit a sound to make them stop barking, but it didn't work. The howling sometimes makes it hard to hear guests in my home, since our living room is adjacent to her backyard.
My neighbor has accommodated me by not leaving them out between 10 p.m. and 8 a.m. They are sometimes, but not usually, out for hours. She said that if she leaves them in the house when she is gone, they would tear up the place.
I could go through the town animal control, but that requires a hearing and a fine of $25 to start. More importantly, I believe this neighbor could be vindictive, and I don't want to risk that given the fact that only a wall and fence separate us. Her scary, abusive husband, who once threatened a neighbor, was killed in a car crash, but his mother owns the house and she is a tough cookie. It would be nice to have some level of politeness and friendliness -- something we had before my request to keep the dogs inside.
I would appreciate any suggestions you have, short of selling our house, although I'm beginning to question whether moving or enduring the dogs is worse. Thanks for any ideas you might have. -- H.B.W., Columbia, Maryland
DEAR H.B.W.: You have my sympathy and understanding -- in my neighborhood, there are knuckle-dragging morons who let their dogs stay out barking, even in the dead of Minnesota winter. Others let their cats roam free and kill birds and chipmunks before our very eyes while my wife and I are sitting on our deck.
I was sent a product called First Alert Bark Genie Automatic Ultrasonic Bark Deterrent by the distributors. I will mail it to you for you to try. Let me know if it is helpful; if not, pass it on to someone else who may find it effective for their own dogs or troubling neighbor dogs and have them email me if these devices prove effective.
DEAR DR. FOX: In your books and column, you have mentioned that you are convinced that animals have souls that survive death. But what do you imagine happens to animals' souls after death? Do they stay with their former owners? Do they journey to the other side? Do they transmigrate into the body of another living animal? Do they reincarnate? I don't believe you have mentioned what you believe happens. I'm sure we are all "dying" to know (no pun intended). You have our full attention! -- R.D.P., Hendersonville, North Carolina
DEAR R.D.P.: Your question has been asked since humans first became aware of death, and many saw the spirits of the deceased, be they human or animal. I do not believe in a heaven or hell except in the terms of what we create ourselves here on Earth.
Many cultures and religious traditions believe in the transmigration of the spirit and its eventual reincarnation into another physical form. Reincarnation was accepted by early Christians but was later declared anathema, probably for political reasons. For further details, see my book "The Boundless Circle: Caring for Creatures and Creation." In my opinion, we should be more concerned about and responsible for the here-and–now rather than wondering about or praying for a better hereafter.
(Send all mail to email@example.com or to Dr. Michael Fox in care of Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106. The volume of mail received prohibits personal replies, but questions and comments of general interest will be discussed in future columns.
Visit Dr. Fox's website at DrFoxVet.com.)