My Corgi dogs have at least five different barks. There’s the squirrel bark, the kitty-cat bark, the welcome guests and family bark and goodbye-to-guests bark, the Lost in Space, “Danger, Will Robinson!” bark, and the let’s-go-out bark. The squirrel bark is also reserved for smaller creatures including bunnies, chipmunks, and birds. The Corgis, Merri and Rhonda, are recreational barkers. They really bark at anything that moves. That includes large vehicles and bicycles and sounds much like the squirrel bark. But when guests come, they are excited, and it is their happy bark. Basically, it doesn’t stop until guests or family members are seated. Then the dogs know that their people friends are planning to stay for at least a little while.
Although the girls bark to say goodbye when friends or family get ready to leave (They learned this from Memphis, who only barked when people were going), they do not bark when it is either Ralph or me. They give us very sad looks and find their designated spots in the hall to await our return, Merri curled in the very corner between the wall and the front door and Rhonda right in front of the door. When I go out, Ralph says she spends most of her time wedged up against the front door, only leaving her post for her dinner or to go out for a walk.
Now Mimi almost never made a sound. But it was the skunk bark that was most plaintive – mournful – recognizing an enemy who leaves his mark and is gone. The indignity of it all when her beloved human refused her entrance into the house! No – it is not true that tomato juice will lessen the stench. That skunk perfume just has to wear off. It takes days – even weeks! This event happened on the day I was leaving for a conference. After giving Mimi two baths, I called Ralph to come over and try to give her a couple more baths. It was before we were married and living in one house. Ralph dropped everything to drive over and start scrubbing.
I am still amazed that my wonderful husband actually said the words, “I do.” I am not sure he knew what he was getting into, but all the dogs instantly fell in love with him, too. He’s learned to listen to their communications. A couple months ago, the girls were out in the backyard and Ralph was bringing out the garden hoses. He noticed that the barks had suddenly changed from the ones that give warning but are all in fun to barks of a very serious tone. He started calling them and found they had cornered a young groundhog that was standing on his hind legs and growling. Ralph sprinted over, grabbed Merri by the collar, and dragged her away. Rhonda followed. The game was not any fun without Merri.
Another time, Ralph opened the door to a man who said he was selling siding. It was eight o’clock at night, dark outside, and why Ralph opened the door to a complete stranger – I will never know! He noticed that Merri was growling in a deep, threatening way, making noises like he had never heard before. He quickly said he wasn’t interested in siding (it was evident that our siding had already been replaced!) shutting the door and locking it.
I am glad we have the dogs for many reasons, but most of all glad for their smiles and joyful greetings and glad for their protective nature. I just cannot imagine life without the Corgis!