One morning, Zuzu was out in our back yard and started barking. We could not see anything, but clearly she believed there was something on our property but outside of our securely fenced “back yard” area. We brought her in. She continued to bark. We let her back out, she continued to bark. Though we could get her to stop for short periods, something clearly had her agitated.

Later that morning, Zuzu and I headed out for our regular morning walk. It had been perhaps an hour since the barking and I'd more or less forgotten about it. We did our usual morning route. I saw some paw prints in the snow. I assumed they were coyote prints since they were clearly too small to be Zuzu's prints and no other dogs had been out on our property (at least that I knew of) since the day prior when the snow had fallen. It's not unusual for coyotes to come around overnight or early in the morning, so I didn't think much about the footprints.

We had probably walked for 10 or 15 minutes when I spotted her. Fortunately, she had spotted us before we spotted her. And fortunately, I spotted her before Zuzu spotted her. I spotted her just as she hopped our surrounding four foot fence and headed off onto the neighboring ranch. A bobcat. Apparently, she had hung around much longer than I thought. She didn't leave until we started getting too close to wherever it was she was hanging out. Most likely near our chicken coop, since I saw lots of prints near there.

Once I saw her, it make perfect sense why Zuzu was barking so much earlier in the morning. This was something that normally did not make an appearance on our property. In fact the only other time we have seen a bobcat (or signs of one) on our property was two years ago. At that time, the dogs treed the bobcat and once she left, we didn't see her again. At least, not until now, if this was the same cat.

So while some people might have been upset about their dog barking – and not terribly willing to stop barking – I was not. I know Zuzu well enough to know that she barks sometimes. But not a lot. And not excessively unless she's really excited about something. I knew she sensed or smelled or heard or saw something out there. And based on her barking, I knew it was not something she noticed regularly. And if there's something out there we don't usually see, then I actually do want my dogs to bark and try to scare it off. I don't really want bobcats or bears or mountain lions or skunks or porcupines hanging out close to home. So if my dogs can discourage them from coming around too often, I am perfectly happy to let them bark a bit and make it less appealing for those animals to hang around.

So barking is not always a bad thing. Sometimes I DO WANT my dogs to bark. Sometimes there is a very good reason, even if I do not know what it is. Good girl, Zuzu!