Thursday, January 8, 2015


The dictionary defines a hobby as “an activity done regularly in one’s leisure time for pleasure.  Synonyms: pastime, leisure activity, leisure pursuit, sideline, side interest, diversion, avocation, recreation, entertainments, amusement.”

Habibi has a hobby, it fits the definition perfectly. Habibi’s hobby is barking.

There is, of course, serious barking.  It is clear that when someone strange comes to the door, or something threatening (in his opinion, anyway) is going on outside, or if an unacceptable dog cuts through his territory, Habibi is doing his very serious job of guarding and alerting all and sundry of what is happening.  This is what he gets “paid” for – his warm bed, daily food and treats, plenty of praise and attention, scratching in that particularly nice sensitive itchy spot…It is a responsibility that he takes very seriously, and I know that I can completely depend on him.

But then there is hobby barking.  Habibi likes to bark. As a hobby should, it gives him a lot of pleasure.  It amuses him in his spare time.  It occupies him when he is not busy with something else. 

The point of his hobby is, that since he is doing it for pleasure, there doesn’t have to be any reason for it, only his own entertainment.  Habibi can stand looking out over his kingdom in the middle of a nice sunny day, with all the other dogs sleeping stretched out in the warm rays, with no other living soul in sight, and bark.  This is a calm, measured, medium tone bark, which is very clearly being done just for the pleasure of it.  Habibi very much enjoys hearing himself bark.  He is completely uninterested in whether the other dogs decide to participate with him or not, he doesn’t care if anyone comes out to look and see what he is barking at.  He is doing this for himself and for the sheer joy of barking.

To make it more interesting, he sometimes barks in different directions, just so that I can’t be sure that there is nothing there.  He may look up at the roof and bark, or bark in the house while looking up at the skylight…you never know, there might be something up there…

Of course, it is possible to get extra points in this game.  Changing the tone can result in me coming to see why he is barking, and then he gets a bonus.  Another very successful way to get bonus points is to start barking at nothing when I am talking on the telephone – this almost always results in me having to shush him, and not only does it gain extra points for getting a reaction, it also gains points for interrupting my conversation with someone unimportant (for Habibi, this is anyone except him.)

The highest point score, of course, is if he manages to startle someone with his barking – that reaction, even when they are two hundred meters away walking down the road, is very satisfying…

As I write this, Habibi is outside my window in the yard, happily barking at nothing while the other dogs are not in the least interested.  I do wish he could find a new hobby…

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