In April, a four-month-old Scottish Terrier named Albert MacKenzie MacDuff came to live with us, a complete puppy overflowing with the vim and vigor of new life and wagging not just his tail, but his whole body 24/7.. And he barks a lot.

Myself having grown up in the company of cats, I was startled by the loudness of his voice, which runs the whole range from plaintive whine and whimper through Grrrrrrr, Arf-Arf and Woof-Woof through the siren of a police car to the full-fledged BANG of a four-inch field howitzer. Now three months later and just entering adolescence, Mac loves to sit outside on the deck, overlooking the river and vocally socialize with his kind, who live beyond the far bank of the Kennebunk River.

I had some difficulty with the noise of his barking at first, until I remembered our dinner last year just after Christmas at the family-style Italian restaurant, large bowls of food on the tables and the winter warmth of a holiday night.

Four little boys, all wearing brand new walky-talky wristwatches, were milling around between the chairs and tables carrying on a social conversation that went like this. Can you hear me? Can you hear me now? Now can you hear me? I can see you. Can you see me? It’s dark under here. Ouch! Can you still hear me? Where are you? Can you hear me? I can hear you. Can you hear me now? There’s something sticky here. Can you hear me now? Unh!

Now I understand what MacDuff is doing, he’s socializing out there on the porch. He just points his muzzle up in the air high enough to get a trajectory that will carry across the river, and it goes like this. I’m a dog. Are you dog? Yes, I’m dog. Big dog? Pretty big. Too big? Big enough. We have cat. You have cat? I’m dog. Not cat! Two cats here. Too many cats. I’m dog. Not cat. You dog? We all dog here, no cat.

It’s not barking, it’s what we do in many forms and many places. It’s socializing. Making do with what we’ve got and talking it over as we do it.

Orrin Frink is a Kennebunkport resident. He can be reached at [email protected]

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