Mystery Barking…solved…

Sometimes, even when you call in the professionals, you figure out a problem all on your

Greta and the old man.

Greta and the old man.


A couple weeks ago Ariel and I took Axel off to the vet.

The complaint: Barking. Lots and lots of barking. And we couldn’t figure out why. Axel is almost 17, mostly blind, largely deaf, partly lame, and with a touch of dementia. But he loves his dinner…likes to say goodnight to the puppies…and is still sweet and friendly.

When he’s not barking.

The barking started some weeks ago. Seemingly for no reason. The vet couldn’t find anything wrong with him….well, anything other than deafness, arthritis, and bad vision.

Nothing that would cause him to bark all the time.

“He only barks upstairs,” remarked Ariel at the vet. And that got us on the right path.

Upstairs is where the action is these days. And most of the action involves Greta and Marlow and Molly.

Turns out…headslap…it’s puppy play Axel objects to.

I get that he doesn’t like it when Greta paws him in the face to play. (He hasn’t “played” in 10 years.) And we try to watch so that doesn’t happen much.

But he also objects when the ‘young ‘uns’ are wrestling five feet away.

His way of saying: “can’t you kids just sit down and shut up?”

No, they can’t. Their world is full of energy and jumping, and tug of war over today’s favorite toy. Yesterday it was the squeaky caterpillar. Today it’s the blue bear that makes a crinkly sound. The puppies are just full of energy and life and generalized bounce.

An antidote to depression. If more people had puppies, there’d be more good cheer in the world and less Prozac.

Unless, of course, you are a really old dog.

Maybe Axel’s hearing and vision aren’t as bad as we thought. As with most things….understanding the situation has helped us to deal with it.

When Greta and Marlowe start to bounce around we’ll often escort—or carry—him downstairs to his bed. He snoozes a lot.

But once the puppies are in their crates for the night, he always goes in to tuck them in. His bark may be annoying, but he really is a sweet old guy.


About Karen Ray

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