Our neighborhood LOVES Hallowe'en. The communal delight with it is getting to be right up there with Christmas, a chivaree at which we historically excel. Folks have already been putting up decorations all over their houses and yards, preparatory to welcoming the hordes of little kids who'll be trucked into the area on the spooky night.

So all this is pretty amazing to a short, feisty little dog. Ruby-Doo has the wildest hypersensitivity to any changes in her environment. And all the new gew-gaws along the way are quite the surprise.

She's always been this way, ever since she was tiny. Put a new plant pot somewhere, move a piece furniture, stack stuff on a table and she'll tell you all about it. Loud and clear, with a peculiar, very specific sharp bark. She's especially dismayed by things that have been stacked up, such as rock cairns and piles of rubbish.

Is she alarmed? Hard to tell. She's certainly alert to any changes, and she certainly thinks some of them are worth noting.

Hence, a series of barkfests as we proceeded down the street this evening. HOlee mackerel, lookit that cardboard pumpkin! Arf arf arf arf... YOW! What is that cardboard ghost? Arf arf arf arf arf... EEEgad! A stuffed black cat up a tree! Arf ARF ARF arf arf arf... Lordie!

Heaven only knows what she'll do when she sees the little kiddies and the teenagers in their get-ups. Normally, Cassie and I hang out at the block party just to the south of our part of the 'hood so as to be smack in the middle of all the doings. However, since I'll be going under the knife again on the 29th and don't expect to be up for strolling around with two dogs in hand, we'll probably camp in the neighbor's driveway -- they always set up a table and sit around a chiminea by way of entertaining themselves and the passers-by.

It's funny how differently Cassie and Ruby respond. Cassie will do some watch-dogging. The teenage girl across the street attracts a shady crowd -- having fallen in with bad company and dropped out of high school, she's said to associate with meth-heads. They come and go in noisy vehicles and slam around the front yard, and when they're holding forth, Cassie will bark at them.

Sometimes if Cassie's outside in back she'll bark at people passing by on the sidewalk, especially if they have a dog with them. But she doesn't bark at oddities around the house. Or anywhere else.

Ruby, on the other hand, will have a barking frenzy at the slightest noise on the other side of the wall, whether it's in the neighbor's yard, in the alley, or on the sidewalk. Strangers making sounds out of sight really do alarm her, whereas Cassie seems to be less alarmed than simply interested. And of course, cairns: heavens to dogsy!

Inside the Funny Farm, Cassie issues her orders to the human with barking. So, when she wants something there's a fair amount of ear-splitting canine conversation. Ruby, on the other hand, rarely barks to get what she wants. She squirrels around, she paces, she gazes portentously at the human. Sometimes she goes ooorrrrooooo!  But unlike Cassie, Ruby hardly ever vocalizes in the house.

In fact, Ruby can be so quiet that sometimes Cassie takes it upon herself to interpret for her. When they're trapped in the office with me so that ONE of us can't dump on the family room floor (who could it be?) and Ruby starts to squirrel around because she needs to go out, Cassie will go to the doggy gate and bark to get Ruby out!

They're so different, it'll be interesting to see how they handle the dogmazing Hallowe'en festivities.

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Comment by Holly on October 13, 2014 at 9:51pm

Uniforms and strangers are welcomed happily, but we are still working on accepting winter hats. Must be cuz she relocated from the deep south. We live down a dark scary road away from town in the woods so nobody even stops by here on Halloween. Can't imagine how freaked out Sully would be otherwise. Maybe turning off the porch lights would discourage potentially scary visits?

Comment by Linda on October 12, 2014 at 10:16pm

Vicky....Max doesn't want to eat the Schwan's lady, he just has to make sure she is not stealing anything like his carrots.  The mailman and the UPS driver he barks at cause he wants the biscuit they have in their pockets.  Now the trash guys are a totally different story...they are stealing his stuff from the curb and they have a noisy truck.

Comment by Vicky Hay on October 12, 2014 at 10:34am

@ Jen, Yuki & Ellie: Interesting that Yuki also is intensely alert to new or changed things around him. It means the dog has got to have a mental "map" or "drawing" of his or her surroundings, remember it, and mentally compare what he sees with what he recalls. AND be interested enough in the differences to comment on them.

I wonder if that's peculiar to corgis?? I've had a lot of dogs but never had one that could (or would?) do this. It would be a useful instinct for a herding dog, of course, because it would make the animal more alert to the presence of, say, a wolf or a coyote just standing there without moving. And possibly one could train a dog with this trait to recognize and bark at an open gate.

@ Linda: The Schwan's thing is hilarious. I had a GerShep who inexplicably desired nothing more than to rid the world of UPS delivery trucks and drivers. She could hear a UPS truck coming from w-a-a-a-y down the end of the road and would fly into a rage at the first sound of its motor humming along. This dog, however, did not wish to follow the UPS dude...she wished to remove his foot.  :-o

Comment by Linda on October 12, 2014 at 8:20am

Katie is my quiet one except when it comes to the chi/jrt behind us but I only have to tell her to get in and she goes.  Max on the other hand, being the big bad male, has to let everyone within earshot know that there is something there....even if it's a leaf blowing down the street.  Halloween is not a fun night with all the noise.  We don't get a lot of kids...a 1 block dead end isn't that great of a draw...but it's enough.  He still barks up a storm at our Schwan's delivery gal tho she's been coming here for at least 12 years every 2 weeks.  He must follow her every step and if she moves he barks.  Katie just barely picks up her head, mutters oh it's you and goes back to sleep.

Comment by Yuki & Ellie on October 12, 2014 at 7:52am

Ellie loves Halloween and is one of those dogs that just doesn't mind all of the crowds and decorations.  :)  In fact, she melts down into full body wiggles the moment someone makes eye contact and just might pet her.  I usually "dress her up" by putting a Halloween themed doggy shirt on her and take her with us as we escort the kids around to get their winter candy supply. 

Yuki, on the other hand, is king and the protector of our yard.  He once spent an entire month barking at a construction sign on a neighbor's lawn.  If our trash and recycling bins are at the roadside instead of being nested against the house, he barks at them.  Someone walks by across the street - he barks at them.  If we have friends over, he barks at their cars every time we take him outside.  However, if I take him for a walk he ignores all of these oddities and just prances down the street in that usual Eskimo Dog way.

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