Why Dogs Bark by Alex

My name is Alex, and I’m the loudest in the family. To get the attention of others around me, I bark, and I don’t stop barking until I get what I want.

I’ve got everyone in our family trained really well. If one of my brothers or sisters is in a place on the couch that I’d like to lay on, I bark. If they are on one of the dog beds that I want I bark. If they have a toy or something to chew on that I want I will bark until they give it up no matter how long it takes.

I bark when I see a squirrel outside - even if I’m inside and see it through the windows. I have sharp eyesight.

I bark when I hear strange noises like a lawnmower starting up outside or the neighbor getting into their car or even familiar noises like my dad’s footsteps coming down the stairs toward the kitchen or when he comes home from work. We all bark our heads off then because we know that means we are going to get our night time treat soon.

We bark when people visit, when we are getting ready for our walks and while out on a walk and see other dogs, cars and people, especially joggers.

I always bark. I’m not sure why the others bark besides the standard answer “miniature pinschers are born watchdogs,” but I can give you a clue into my behavior from my background.

Born into one of those puppy mills that churn out puppies like sacks of potatoes, I was assaulted with the sounds of incessant bawling, yapping, howling and barking from day one. These were sounds of despair, pain, hopelessness and loneliness.

My mommy, a big, bony min pin (big females, paired with smaller males, produce large litters which means more profit for dog factories) started whining when we were born and didn’t stop until four weeks later when they pulled us away from her to take us to market.

We were thrown carelessly, one on top of another, into a dirty plastic box, while my mother, although weak, tried to stop the big gloved hand that kept coming back through the hole of the dark wooden box where we nursed and slept.  But her teeth, rotten and gums sore from poor breeding and gnawing for hours on the wire, couldn't help save us from the rough grip of the man's hand.

I’m not sure who my dad was but when I looked back at the dirty rusty wire cage that held my mother, and four other mothers, that was our whole world for four weeks, I saw a man throw in a dirty chocolate male min pin. I thought that might have been my daddy. I was too afraid to bark out to him because now I was being squished in with a bunch of other puppies and some of them were more scared than I was. Some of them were screaming out in fear. Some were dead silent trying to hear what was coming next. Some puppies were trembling, not from the cold, but from sheer terror.

Most of the puppies just wanted to huddle together while a few of us just wanted to be left alone in our sorrow as we tried to figure out how to get out of the dark plastic box that confined us, so we could be with our mommy and friends again.

Soon we found our voices, and started barking because we were hungry. It seemed like it had been hours since we had our last meal. Someone pounded on the top of the box and yelled at us, but that only startled us for a second because our hunger won out and it made us bark louder.

The smell inside the box burnt our sensitive noses. It was too hot inside the box. We were thirsty and walking over each other trying to jump up toward the sound of the voice. We got into a panic because we thought we were going to suffocate inside the box.

Our barking grew louder, and this time the top of the box was lifted and dry food was thrown in, and a water dispenser was placed inside the box. With the top off and light filtering in, I could see there were all types of dogs - big and small. I could see some puppies had runny noises, and cuts on their paws. We were dirty filthy.

We were placed into a wire pen that had more room for all of us with cement on the ground and a big drain in the middle. Some of us were curious and starting sniffing around the new place. Just as I was about to check out a dry leaf that had been blown in by the breeze, I heard a different voice, it was younger. We all stopped and listened. Some of us started whining and barking because we wanted to make contact with the voice.

We heard the sound of a faucet being turned on and soon we were being hosed down and pushed over by a cold blast of water from the man with the loud voice as his young son stood watching and laughing. We were whimpering, shivering and trying to escape, but there was nowhere to go.

We were cold and frightened and somewhat clean, and the boy and his father grabbed us roughly and tossed us into another kennel for the long ride to auction. From here it gets hazy as I, along with the other pups, had shut down as we were auctioned off to breeders or brokers who then sold us to owners of Pet Shops.

After a long bumpy ride in a truck, we arrived at our destination. We were separated by size and breed, and placed in wire cages behind glass. On display, even surrounded by a lot of other puppies, I still felt so alone. I missed my mommy so much. Someone said I had beautiful, golden eyes, but they looked so sad, as they passed by my cage, tapping on the window, my eyes following theirs closely.

I was quiet at first because I was frightened. Two grad students with full time jobs saw me in a Manhattan pet store window and decided on the spot I was the one they thought would be a perfect match.

When they came inside they tried to engage me, but I was the aloof one. It seemed like they liked that trait because they kept ignoring the other pushy pups clamoring for their attention.

The couple spoke to each other quickly, and you could feel the high energy and determination radiating from them. It scared me, but I was curious at what they were waving around in the air trying to get me to come closer.

The guy grabbed me as soon as I was close enough, and then the girl holding the swatch of chocolate brown fabric she had been waving at me, held it up against my side. I was perfect, she said. Even though I was squirming to get away, the man held me tight. They both agreed, I was a perfect match with the decor in their Upper East Side apartment. As a chocolate miniature pinscher, it seems like I matched their decor perfectly.

I was a little shy and guarded and on the larger size, compared to the other puppies at the store, but they didn’t mind because I was the only one that matched, perfectly.

Along with the other necessary items the salesperson claimed they needed to care for me, they also picked a tiny, hard sided travel crate. All the while, I sat quietly in the arms of the lady, all 3 pounds of me, eyes wide open, and timid but eager to explore the new world. Little did I know my world was about to become even smaller than before. I had no idea what I was in for and neither did the young couple when they handed over their American Express card to the clerk.

To be continued...

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