DEAR DR. FOX: I am not a dog owner, but I live in close proximity to dogs. I don't live in the country. Our neighborhood consists of lots of quarter-acres or smaller. Most of my neighbors seem to be good owners, except for one. These neighbors are very well educated and work long hours. They have had two dogs since they moved in 15 years ago, though not the same two the whole time. These neighbors leave their dogs on their deck all day every day (sometimes 10 to 12 hours). The dogs bark incessantly at everything and everyone who is outside in the neighborhood.
It is obviously incredibly annoying for all of us neighbors, especially the ones who can't use their own yards for their dogs because of the barking, but I also have to wonder how healthy it is for the dogs to be outside idle and barking all day.
Other neighbors have spoken with these neighbors in the past about the incessant barking, but they don't seem to care about their neighbors or their dogs. I am trying to keep neighborhood peace, but I am getting very tired of the doggy choir. -- A.M., Arlington, Virginia
DEAR A.M.: These neighbors of yours, like some of mine, too, give other dog owners a bad reputation by ignoring their dogs’ barking and complaints from their neighbors. Most municipalities have ordinances limiting the amount of time dogs are allowed to bark, which the police should enforce. So call and ask what the regulations are, since this upsets you and your neighbors.
It seems more like a serious nuisance issue than one of animal neglect. If there is no ordinance, get a petition together with your neighbors' supporting signatures.
Good luck! This is an all-too-common problem, and once dog owners have been informed about their dogs' repeated and incessant barking, they have a responsibility to address and correct the problem. It could be as simple as keeping the dogs inside with a radio playing, which acts as a sound barrier to outside noises; restricting their visual access to the outdoors; and using humane and effective anti-bark collars.
DEAR DR. FOX: A cat who was skin and bones and wandering in the woods looking for a home adopted me five years ago. I took him in, and he became an indoor cat. Like M.M. from Kansas City's cat, he was food insecure and gobbled everything available, while my other cat was a grazer and nibbler. This became more problematic when both cats required different prescription diets. I discovered an amazing feeding system that solved the problem completely: the SureFeed Microchip Pet Feeder.
My calico could eat at her leisure while her big "brother" was locked out. This feeder can be used for multiple cats, with only M.M.'s newest cat locked out. If he gobbles his food, so be it. It works by reading microchips or RFID tags. It is expensive, but truly worth every penny. Sadly, my calico passed away last week at age 16, so Charlie is now my only cat and I no longer need to use the feeder. I hope this information is helpful. -- J.O., Norman, Oklahoma
DEAR J.O.: Thanks for verifying how well this selective feeding system worked for your cats. I am sure other people with two or more cats will find this kind of feeding system worth the investment when they have one or more cats who are food-addicted.
(Send all mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or to Dr. Michael Fox in care of Andrews McMeel Syndication, 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.net.)