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My husband discovers why the dogs were barking

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For the most part, the diverse animal population on our three-acre lot gets along quite nicely. Occasionally the balance is tipped in favor of one species, and we intervene to set things right. At least we try to, but it doesn't always work out.

My mild-mannered, mellow husband, Craig, and I tried one evening to ignore our three dogs outside, carrying on in an unusually raucous manner. They continued their barking past the "let's ignore it and it will go away" point to the "honey, please see what is going on" stage. Craig donned bathrobe and slippers a bit grudgingly. He ventured down the basement stairs and out the basement door into the dark of night to try to set things right.

We profess to be "dog people," but we have cared for a feral cat we named Annabelle for many years. She is too wild to hold, but we captured and spayed her. We also erected a fenced area in which we put a carpet-covered cat pole so that she can eat in peace, away from the dogs. Annabelle has a heating pad under her soft bed on our covered porch when it's cold. She is well taken care of, even though we don't own a cat.

Craig entered the dark, fenced-in area and found our three dogs barking out of control and lunging at the chain-link fence surrounding our white cat, Annabelle, as she sat atop the chest-high cat pole, eating ... or trying to.

Craig was, no doubt, put out at the dogs for interrupting his evening and disrupting the quiet countryside. He admonished the dogs to be quiet in no uncertain terms, all the time gently stroking Annabelle, trying to calm and comfort her. But the dogs refused to comply.

So Craig engaged in a heated debate with the barking dogs, even going so far as to bang on the fence with a stray piece of firewood that was handy. But the dogs kept barking and lunging at the fence.

Sometime during Craig's unsuccessful attempt to effect calm, the fact that Annabelle's hair didn't feel quite right began to register in his consciousness. But quieting the dogs and protecting Annabelle was a mission of valor and demanded his full attention.

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