An Open Letter to the Neighbourhood Dog Who Thinks I’m an Evil Wizard, or Something

Dear Dog,

I’ll be blunt. I don’t like you, and you have no opinion of me because you forget that I exist the moment I disappear from view or an unusually suspicious pinecone captures your attention. But for those scant few moments when I am extant in your reality, you don’t like me. I can tell from all the barking.

I understand that you feel compelled to bark, much as a cat is compelled to hunt or a bird is compelled to fly. It is in your nature to defend your backyard—your territory—from the threat of a potential intruder as he walks by. Do what you must to appease the primal instincts that lay deep within the recesses of your little doggy mind, driving you with a force so powerful that you cannot even begin to comprehend it. For we are all, man and beast both, slaves to nature. To begrudge you your barking would be to begrudge evolution itself, the very process that produced the man I am today. So bark away, my majestic friend, bark the bark that has echoed through thousands of years of proud canine history.

But you don’t need to bark for twenty fucking minutes.

I may live two houses down from you, but that doesn’t mean I can’t hear you roaring like a hound of hell. My home has become a veritable prison, an echo chamber of madness where even the most mundane task is rendered impossible by your ceaseless braying. Walls and windows, earplugs and earphones… they are all powerless before you, because you are one loud fucking dog.

What are you even barking at? You see me go inside, and yet you keep at it as though I pose an imminent threat. Do you suspect that I’m playing the long con, attempting to lull you into a false sense of security before I strike? Or do you bark at monsters unseen, invisible evils that you believe my ill intents brings to your little empire? If so, allow me to set the record straight.

I am not planning to conquer your land. Your sad, scraggly backyard is of no interest to me. My strolls past you are not acts of aggression, reconnaissance, or psychological warfare. Nor am I a ghost pretending to vanish into my catacomb, only to invisibly return to pollute your land with my foul miasma. I am not a wizard weaving accursed magicks against you, nor a demon bent on claiming your property for my dark master. I am just a man, a man who wants to relax after a long day without your frenzied shouts pounding my sanity to dust.

Nor too are the others who pass you by evil creatures longing to bring you to your doom. I confess that I have not met the others who have drawn your ire, and thus cannot personally vouch for their character. But when I sit in my humble home, hearing you begin another half-hour session of baying mere minutes after I thought you had finally granted me respite, I find it hard to believe that anyone you bark at plots against you. Because if they plotted against you, they would have abandoned their elaborate machinations long ago and opted to simply cross your border, weapon aloft and war cry in their throat, so they could shut you the fuck up.

I do not consider myself a hater of animals. Quite the contrary—I like to think that I am an ally of beasts, a man more in touch with nature than most. But your endless snarling make me want to stop befriending your kind and invest in a chainsaw. Please, please, please stop.

I realise there is another possible explanation for your actions that I have only just now begun to consider. Perhaps you bark not out of defensive instinct, but out of a misguided desire for attention. Perhaps, having found yourself raised by a negligent trainer or mistreated by your master, you lash out in the hopes of doing something, anything, that will bring you the acknowledgment that you are a “good boy.” Given the appearance of your owner, who in the brief glimpses I have caught of him seems to be the product of incest, this would be a logical conclusion.

I understand your desire, for truly, what animal is more needing of praise than man? Oft have I “barked” at my parents, my friends, my would-be lovers, desperate for any sign of even the slightest accolade. In moments of weakness I have all but begged for a metaphorical belly rub, so well I understand your desires, if this is indeed your motivation. But I strive to conquer my destructive impulses, and so must you.

So if this is the case, I beseech you—be the better dog. Humans cannot choose many of their circumstances in life, and dogs find themselves even more pray to the whims of chance. But don’t sink down to your surroundings—rise above them! Demonstrate that a rose can bloom in the muck, that you can retain your humanity—your dogmanity—no matter the circumstances, and be the kind, gentle being that the most beloved of dogs are. Be Lassie, not Cerberus. Toto, not the Hound of the Baskervilles. End your assault on me and my eardrums, and I promise you that I will call you a good dog, even if no other man in this cruel and merciless world would say the same.

Or else I swear to God the next time you see me I will come as an invader, and I need no supernatural powers to destroy you. Chainsaw sales are coming, my canid friend. Chainsaw sales are coming.

Sincerely,

-Mark

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