Try throwing it a bone

Let's say you're on the town council where you live, and some of your fellow residents have been complaining about the noisy dogs kept by their neighbors. So you try to craft an ordinance that will address the problem. But how? Dogs being dogs, they're going to bark; that can't be stopped. But perhaps there's a way to decide how much is too much. That is how the solons in Montgomery Township, N.J., decided to approach the matter. But now they're backtracking from the original language and are trying again. "We're not asking dogs not to be dogs," as Mayor Cecilia Birge put it to reporters last week. "We want to come up with a reasonable ... guideline so we can live harmoniously." Which apparently wasn't the case when – in their wisdom – councilors proposed to determine whether a dog was causing noise pollution by ... counting its barks. Uh-huh. It would have been necessary for a complainant to document that Fido, Spike, or Lady had sounded off four times per minute for more than 10 minutes. Alternatively, twice a minute for at least half an hour would have been accepted as proof, too. At that point, dog owners did some howling of their own. Grumped one: "This is going to pit neighbor against neighbor." Thus, it's back to the drawing board for the councilors. It has not been reported whether, in the spirit of compromise, the people next door thought of simply asking that the offending canine be taken inside.

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