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Heel. Sit. Whisper. Good Dog. Debarking Your Canine?

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By Sam Dolnick for The New York Times

Nestlé barks when Mike Marder and his wife come home, and he barks when they leave. He barks at delivery boys, he barks at the doorbell, and he barks at the Marders’new puppy, Truffle.

But for all that effort, the only sound Nestlé makes is a raspy squeak. Dr. Marder, a veterinarian, tells those who are curious that Nestlé, a dachshund-terrier mix, is hoarse from too much barking.

But that is not true. The Marders had Nestlé’s vocal cords cut by a veterinary surgeon after a neighbor in the family’s apartment building on the Upper East Side threatened to complain to the co-op board about the noisy dog.

Although there is no reliable estimate as to how many dogs have had their vocal cords cut, veterinarians and other animal experts say that dogs with no bark can readily be found — but not necessarily heard —in private homes, on the show-dog circuit, and even on the turf of drug dealers, who are said to prefer their attack dogs silent.

The surgery usually leaves the animal with something between a wheeze and a squeak. The procedure, commonly referred to as debarking, has been around for decades, but has fallen out of favor, especially among younger veterinarians and animal-rights advocates.

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12 years ago

Has anyone checked back to see how well the dog is doing? My guess you will find him just fine. Digs communicate in may ways with bardking just a small part. I have had several bark softened dogs with no progroblems. Actually I think shock collars and the citronella collars which are activated each time the dog barks. Barking is a natural ting for a dog to do and it is so nice not to have to yell at them. They are happy, I am happy and certainly my neighbors are happy.


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