In 1961, our family moved from an apartment in Brooklyn to a single-family home on Long Island, and that was when my parents said we could get a dog!

Our furry friends were family to us and great companions. Schweppes, whose beard reminded my dad of Commander Whitehead from the Schweppes Tonic commercials, was a magnificent miniature schnauzer with streaks of silver and grey throughout her coat and the whitest of facial whiskers and leg fur. Her sweet demeanor was perfect for this young girl, who loved to play dress up with her and cuddle her like a baby.

That dog’s patience and sweetness never wavered. When Schweppes had puppies, I was at my grandparents’ and calling every few minutes to see if another pup was born. Five beautiful little girls entered the world on Labor Day.

In just a moment or two after seeing them, I got to select a pup to keep, making Samantha, aka Sammie, the perfect addition for her mother and for us. Like Schweppes, Sammie was a wonderful dog, and both mother and daughter lived long and happy lives in our home.

Grandpa and I worked long hours for many years, and we now travel a bit more during retirement, so it seemed very unfair to have a dog that would be by itself all day. We probably will adopt later on, but for now, we enjoy our grand-doggies as often as possible. There is nothing like the greeting from a dog who is thrilled to see you.

With owning a dog, or any other pet, comes responsibility. It is just common sense mixed with basic consideration for both the animal and people who come in contact with them to control your animal’s behavior the best you can.

When I meet someone with a dog in my neighborhood, I ask if the dog is friendly before I approach for a dose of puppy time. So far, I have been lucky to meet the nicest dogs — and people, too — on my walks.

There are, however, some folks who ignore the basic courtesy of owning a dog. One of my ‘pet’ peeves is when a dog owner allows their animal to bark all day while they are gone.

Many people are quite courteous and quiet the pooch after a few minutes, as all dogs bark sometimes, but there are others who tune it out, disregarding the annoyance to neighbors.

If you live in a gated community, there are CC&Rs that stipulate what is acceptable. Here in Summerset, there is no barking before 9 a.m., and no continuous barking or howling for 15 minutes within one hour anytime.

If speaking with or writing a letter to a neighbor with a constantly barking dog is futile, you can contact animal control. The Brentwood Police Department contracts for animal services through Contra Costa County Animal Control in Martinez. During business hours, Monday through Friday, you can contact Contra Costa County Animal Control at 925-608-8400. After business hours, you can contact the Brentwood Police through the dispatch center at 925-809-7911. The Brentwood Police Department will forward the complaint to Contra Costa Animal Control. You can also visit their website for helpful information at

Hopefully, a conversation will work but if not, there is no reason for either you or the animal to be ignored. I miss my dogs, even to this day so many years later, but I respected my parents for teaching us how to make sure the dogs were well-fed, healthy and happy and that we as owners were considerate of others in hearing distance.