I Know Why the Kenneled Dog Barks

I know why the kenneled dog barks

…or, how I learned that something that you create can take on a life and meaning of its own.

A couple months ago I was woken up, not by happily singing birds, or the earth-shattering sounds of my alarm clock, but rather by my neighbor’s chihuahua having a barking fit over something. Now this wouldn’t have been a problem if it had been the first time this had happened, or if there had been some effort by the owner to quiet the dog, but this was not the case.

I fully understand that while living in an apartment, that there is going to some environmental noise from the neighbors, but after months of listening to dogs barking at all hours, I snapped.

Fortunately, I’m a graphic designer. So when I snap, instead of doing something like showing up at my neighbor’s door at 3 am with a blunt object… I make over the top passive aggressive notes. Like this one:

The note did exactly what I wanted it to do: it prevented me from doing something regrettable to a neighbor, and the barking diminished. End of story, right?

Not quite. I had also posted the note to facebook, mostly for my own personal amusement, and it got shared around a bit. Most people took it for what it was, a lighthearted attempt to solve a problem I was having. But a few people took issue with two little words: “small dog.”

I used “small dog”, because all of the dogs in my building are small dogs (I think the biggest one is a Miniature Schnauzer). This was not an attack on them and their owners in particular. But some people were a bit put out by those two words.

So, what can we learn from this?

The first thing is that it pays to be aware of how things you create can take on a life of their own. Some of them go way beyond their intended purpose. This can go for any part of your advertising, both in the real world and on the web. Once something is out there, it’s out there, and there’s no taking it back. So before you hit publish, make sure that it’s something you’re comfortable to have reflected back on yourself, your company, or organization.

The second, is that besides thinking about how you would personally react to things, you should also take into consideration how your customers, staff, and heck, even your mother might react to something. No two people think the same, and just because you feel a certain way about something, doesn’t mean that everyone will.

Thirdly, sometimes passive aggressive notes win!



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