Well...that was an experience. I've never had my dogs behave like this before. And am kind of mystified about the dynamics:

Last night I had some friends over for dinner. My son joined us. Since Thursday is a workday for him, he brought Charley the Golden Retriever over to my house at the lunch hour, so he could come straight here from the office.

Charley, Cassie the Corgi, and Ruby the (former) Corgi Pup get along swimmingly. There's never been any problem with these pals.

Now people start to show up for dinner, and of course there's a great deal of Dog Joy elicited by the arrival of several colorful new humans.

Then my friend Connie arrives...with her dog in tow. This, in theory, should be good. Silver the Weimeraner has been here before and she gets along with the corgis about the same way the retriever gets along with the corgis: no problem.

There is no fighting. At one point Silver lifts her lip a couple of times. Charley, who's not the assertive type, gives her a wide berth.

As what  passes for the evening goes on (it would've been somewhat disappointing without the disaster-level dog antics that devolved), the dogs begin a barkfest. I don't know which one started it or if any of them could be said to have "started" it. Cassie is a barker, but she doesn't normally get wound up unless there's someone at the door or messing around outside the yard. Ruby can let go with a fine barkarooni frenzy, too, but again: that's normally limited to the above plus the sounds of the young guys across the street playing with their un-muffler-equipped toys.

About the time the five of us sit down for dinner, all four dogs start to bark...nonstop. Nothing we do interrupts this. I put Cassie in the back room, where her beloved nest resides -- this usually is a sure-fire bark-stopper. My son puts Charley in the back yard, where he continues to bark frantically. Connie eventually puts Silver in her Jeep, but that doesn't help because Charley, Cassie, and Ruby keep up the din.

The barkfest is so so loud and so uninterrupted that literally we cannot hold a conversation at the dinner table -- because we can't hear each other talking. NOTHING discourages our doggy friends from holding forth.

I assume the wild card here must have been Silver the Weimeraner. That is one neurotic dog...in the manner of a lot of Weimeraners. But she's not a mean dog. She is exquisitely smart: this is a dog that can unlock and open the doors of an 18-wheeler's cab. No kidding.

Connie is a long-haul trucker. She has the dog for company on the road and because she dearly misses her two Weimeraners that finally died of extreme old age. Connie can't go into a truck stop to take a shower unless she can talk the management into letting her take the dog with her. Same thing with food: she can't go into a truck-stop restaurant to enjoy the fine dining there without looking up to see Silver dancing around the parking lot. Silver has defeated every scheme Connie has cooked up to keep her from opening the cab doors...and some of those schemes have been pretty elaborate.

And yet I couldn't see that Silver was doing much out of the ordinary. Once she threatened Charley with mayhem when he tried to love up Connie, but not in a way that the other humans in the room noticed, except me and my son -- it was a very subtle gesture on her part.

So the dinner party was ruined -- not that it wasn't already halfway there before any of the guests showed up ($20 worth of spoiled meat! Never buy from Costco again...). Cassie was locked up in the back of the house all evening. Charley was locked out in the rain all evening. But together or apart, they all barked SO loud and SO long that it just didn't matter that they were banished from human company.

In 70-some years, I've had a lot of dogs, and I've had a lot of friends with dogs. But I've never experienced an obsessive communal barkfest like this. Although it's true Cassie was dumped at the dog pound with the reason "Barks" as her previous owners' excuse for surrendering her, and it is true that she can get your attention, most of the time she barks for a reason: someone or something outside, or else a demand for food. She doesn't just bark out of the blue for no discernible cause. And she wasn't the only barker: they were ALL in a barking frenzy.

Not knowing what brought this on, I wasn't able to make it stop. It didn't stop until the guests got up and left.

Anybody else ever have an experience like this? Got a clue what strategy might have taken the wind out of the barking sails?

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