I’d known Oriel for a few years before she came to live with us. She’s a sweet, affectionate dog and I always noticed that — in marked contrast to Jana — she is quiet. In fact, she reportedly barked fewer than a dozen times in her entire working life, and when she did, it was a single, surprised WOOF?
I also noticed that Oriel has the most active dream life of any dog I have ever known, complete with legs twitching and frequent vocalizations. But when she was awake, Ori was pretty much silent.
Then one day, my friend, who is severely allergic to dogs, was visiting. Ori, who frequently solicits petting by approaching people and putting her head under their hands to get the action started, was placed in the office — a large, spacious room, complete with comfy dog bed, water bowl, and access to the outdoors. Jana, since she is a bit aloof and rarely goes up to people and touches them, was allowed to stay with us as we talked in the kitchen.
Suddenly, I heard a sound that was almost like a baby crying. It was heartbreaking. It was Oriel, crying her little heart out over being banished. (We let her join us.) Not long after that first incident, we had several guests and, again, the dogs were behind a closed door. Soon, an unfamiliar, gruff bark sounded. I’ve heard Jana and Wylie bark often enough to recognize any of the myriad variations of their barks. It wasn’t Jana. It wasn’t Wylie.
It was Oriel.
It was the first time I had heard her bark, and she’d been living with us for a year and a half!
Since then, I have noticed that Oriel has discovered her voice. She mostly uses it when she seems to believe that she has been the target of a grave injustice, as in the first two incidents. She now comes out to the dog yard and barks when we get home sometimes, often when we’re late for her dinner. She’s also voiced her objections to being left behind when we go someplace, especially if another of the dogs gets to go.
She’s still not a barky dog. Jana gets the distinction of being our most vocal, with Wylie a very close second. Oriel doesn’t bark at the deer and turkeys who visit the yard, or at the human visitors. (Though she did try to quietly climb aboard the FedEx truck one day and go off on a little adventure.) If she wants to go out and doesn’t feel like using the dog yard, she sits silently by the front door, waiting for us to notice.
When she does speak up, Oriel has a nice, deep, gruff bark — maybe it’s rusty from years of disuse. I’m pleased that Oriel has found her voice at last.