Friday, February 15, 2008

Debarking Dogs

This is kind of diving in with a bizarre change of subject, but I can't help it: I have fallen behind on the blogging and ya just gotta start somewhere.

I stumbled on a discussion of the subject of "debarking" dogs and it got me thinking on this subject. Now some people think this is horrible dog abuse, and I understand many municipalities have outlawed it - including the entire state of New Jersey. Well, I'll tell you: We had 2 Keeshonden, Brook and Meadow, when we lived in California. They were "sisters" who did everything together, and that included barking. Keeshonden are great talkers. They talk all the time. It's one of the reasons they tend to get marked down in obedience trials: They do what they're supposed to, but they have so much fun doing it that they talk about it the whole time. Loudly. Their barks are cute, in my opinion, and I love to hear them talk.

BUT... we did have neighbors, and they didn't think the barking was so cute. Also one set of neighbors had about a zillion dogs of their own that would get loose and run along the outside of our fence, yelling at our dogs, and everybody would get into a giant bark-fest that was impossible to subdue. We could yell at the dogs all we wanted, all it did was hurt our girls' feelings - and the dogs on the other side of the fence would just shout back, "Up yours!" in dog language.

So we had the girls debarked. It did take a general anesthetic, which is always scary, and they seemed to have a sore throat for about 24 hours after the procedure. But after that? They were fine. They still had the barking behaviors but not the volume. They still tore up and down the fence with the neighbor's rotten dogs, only now it was the neighbors' dogs who were making all the noise. Brookie and Meadow still announced each and every happening outside the house like before. They still went nuts every time the doorbell rang, just in case we hadn't heard it. They still had their cute conversational barks with us and one another, only now they were more like "whuff, whuff" instead of ear-splitting BARK BARK. In fact we are absolutely positive that Brook, who was absolutely brilliant, learned to ask for banana bread by name. Barry would ask her what she wanted and she would say, "waWAwa wa! waWAwa wa!"

In short, though Bo is not debarked, and where we live he doesn't need to be, I personally think it is a good idea, or can be, if the situation fits. I would rather a dog be skillfully debarked and live on with his or her family than end up in a shelter, or hurt by an angry neighbor, or get yelled at by his loved ones all the time.


kchays said...

Do you know of a vet in Iowa that will do this? I am trying to avoid having to give my dog up. I called ISU and they stated they no longer teach it.

kchays said...

Do you know of a vet that will debark in Iowa? I am trying to avoid giving my dog up. I called ISU vet med and they said they don't even teach it anymore.

Maria Stahl said...

I don't, kchays - I'm sorry! That vet was in Southern California.

kchays said...