The Language of Barking

Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath” (James 1:19)

For many years I have enjoyed studying words and language. I have had scant success in learning Pennsylvania German, but I do know a little Spanish as a second language. Lately I have been studying the language of barking, not to speak it, but to understand it better. Pepper, our Chihuahua, is my tutor.  

Barking is a language that demands attention. It is usually initiated before all the facts are in, and it tends to intensify as more facts come to light. Barkers don’t always know what they are barking about; they may bark just because someone else barked. Some barkers seem to bark because they like hearing themselves bark. Barkers speak in loud, abrupt bursts of sound that usually mean nothing friendly.  

The underlying philosophy of barking is that the barker first establishes in his mind what is normal for his surroundings; after that, anything that invades that normal space—any noise, movement, smell, or sight that does not belong—must be barked at. The more threatening the intrusion, the more intense the barking. Large barkers have a ring of authority in their barking. Small barkers like Pepper sound shriller and often add extra behaviors for impact, such as jerking the whole body with each bark and kicking up tufts of grass with stiff legs.  

Barking is usually done by dogs. As I said, I am not interested in speaking this language; yet as I review the paragraphs above, I have the uneasy feeling that I may be more proficient in this language than I realized.  

Understanding—shallow, dark— 
Does not make barkers cease to bark; 
And that perception lacks connection, 
Does not deter this predilection. 

From Paws on My Porch, by Gary Miller
© 2015 TGS International, PO Box 355, Berlin, Ohio 44610
Used by permission 


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