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Sudie Crouch: Not every barking dog deserves attention
Sad face
Andre Hunter, Unsplash

I’m not sure if it’s because of her age, but little things seem to rattle Mama lately. 

Telemarketers have long annoyed her but now more than ever, and she’s even started to get upset about the junk mail she gets by the dozens. 

“This should be illegal!” she exclaims when she calls me about something. 

“I agree,” I reply. I think a lot of that nonsense needs to be stopped but not sure who will be the one to do it. 

I’ve filed probably five dozen FCC complaints on her behalf over the last couple of years, and she has too, with no resolution. If anything, it seems to make it worse. 

Now, she’s getting all kinds of letters and the like that look official when they’re not. 

“I don’t even have a car. Why do they keep sending me stuff about my car warranty?”

I sigh. I’ve tried telling her it’s all a big scam and someone will take the bait, but it does no good. It irritates me, too, because I get them as well. 

But, I toss them in the trash and go on. Mama lets it get to her. 

“Mama, don’t let it bother you,” I tell her. 

“I can’t help it. It makes me so angry,” she says. 

Of course, it makes me angry too, but I have other things that are more worthy of my ire and brimstone. She has something on the daily that gets her upset, and that makes me worry about her. 

I tell her I will take care of it, but that doesn’t really stop her tirade over the injustice of it all. 

Maybe she inherited it from the Redhead Prime herself. 

Granny was the type to get upset about every little thing — she could get offended over a compliment if she thought about it long enough. 

Pop, on the other hand, didn’t let stuff get to him unless it was necessary and necessary meant it involved his family and home, his faith or his integrity. 

The rest of it, he said, was just noise. 

Granny was fussing about something full throttle one day when she paused long enough to catch her breath and look at my grandfather. 

“Bob, why aren’t you as cussed mad about this as I am?” she demanded. 

My grandfather pursed his lips as if he was about to whistle, something he’d do often when he was weighing his words before he spoke. “Helen, I figured you were mad enough for the both of us.” 

She looked at him hard for a solid minute. “Alright, I’ll allow it.” 

She didn’t know what to do with his response other than agree. They both were fiery and high-tempered, and someone once asked Granny how they stayed married. “We just don’t get mad at the same time, or at each other,” she said. 

I could only imagine the house would have spontaneously combusted if they had. But Pop’s logic was a bit more grounded. 

“Why don’t you get as upset about things as Granny does?” I asked once as she had tore off to town to give someone what-for and God knows what else. 

Pop nodded slowly, his eyes skimming through the newspaper.


“Because, Lit’Un, your grandmother works herself into a tizzy about everything. She feels like she’s righting a wrong or someone’s being taken advantage of. She’s on a mission.”

She did kind of think of herself as a one-woman army. 

“What’s her mission?”

He took a deep breath. “I’m not sure. She probably isn’t either. But she’s not going to let anyone get away with anything if she can help it.” 

I wasn’t sure if it was a matter of someone getting away with something, but Granny was vigilant. 

I can be that way quite often. And when Mama gets upset, I tell her not to worry because I can get angry enough for the both of us. 

Just like when I get a snippy response from someone in an email or message, it can make me want to respond but sometimes, I have to pause and think maybe, just maybe it’s not necessary. 

“What keeps you from not getting so upset?” I asked Pop. 

He folded his paper and sat it on the chair beside him. “Have you ever noticed how the dogs bark?”

“Huh?”

“How the dogs bark. Have you ever paid attention to it?”

“Not really.”

“Well, if you did, you’d notice they bark a lot. Bo barks at squirrels. Gus barks at the clouds. They bark at stuff all the time. So you have to also notice when their bark changes to tell you something’s wrong.”

I was confused. Was he saying Granny barked like a dog? I could see her doing that; she may have even tried to bite someone if she thought she could get away with it. 

“It’s easy to find things to get mad about. There’s always gonna be something that will get you going,” Pop said.

“But just like every time the dog barks doesn’t mean there’s something to respond to, not everything that upsets you deserves your attention.”

A new trick this old dog may need to learn. 


Sudie Crouch is an award-winning humor columnist residing in the North Georgia Mountains among the bears, deer, and possibly Sasquatch. You can connect with her on Facebook at Mama Said: A Collection of Wit, Humor, and Deep-Fried Wisdom. Her recently published book, ‘Mama Said: A Collection of Wit, Wisdom, and Deep-Fried Humor’ is available in paperback and Kindle download on Amazon.