If you follow me, you know that I have a few dogs. Mutt is the biggest of all three and the biggest chicken of them all. This scaredy cat syndrome she has leads to a lot of uncontrolled barking. My neighbors hate it and so do we. My husband had threatened for years to buy one of those shocking dog collars for barking, but I forbade it. All I could imagine was the ‘youtube’ video where the dude had the collar on and he barked. Each time he barked louder and each time he was shocked with more intensity. The poor guy was crying uncontrollable by the time he got it off. NO WAY WAS THAT HAPPENING TO MY BABY GIRL. PERIOD.
Mutt is totally afraid of everything and everyone. If she sees white on the ground, she refuses to go out. It does not help that she was clobbered by a 2 foot avalanche of snow off the roof one year. When she sees anything out in the yard that has not been there all her life, she spazzes out especially if it is black. In out, in out, barking for one of us to come see what is in her space. Fall is the worst. Leaves…do I need to say more? She has a dog door but you can forget about her using it after sun down. In the rare cases she has tried to brave the night, she has high tailed it right back in with eyes as wide as apples, hair ruffled on her back, and barking to beat the band. Heck, half the time she is running so fast and out of control to get back inside she misses the dog door completely and smacks her head into the door facing. She is definitely my 80 pound chicken little.
One day I came home from work. Hub was avoiding eye contact. I knew something was up right then. He only does this when he has done something he knows I would not approve of. I looked all over for evidence to support my suspicion. I found nothing. As I was fixing dinner, I noticed Hub was becoming more fidgety and shifty eyed. Hmmmmm. I served dinner and all were in attendance except Mutt.
MUTT. I look at Hub. Not a word escaped his lips. He had that deer in the head light look. I got up and looked out the back door. There was Mutt in the corner of the yard pressed against the fence. She was just sitting there not doing anything. I opened the door and called her in. She came walking on her tip toes. What the heck was going on? I asked Hub if he had beaten my dog. He looked at me as if I had asked him if he’d killed one of my kids. “Of course not!” he said with disgust. Mutt comes in with a mixture of calm and defeat. I thought maybe she was sick. I resumed eating.
It was not until later that night I realized she had not uttered a sound all evening. She went out and came back in without incident. What in the world was going on? I called her over to the couch. She jumped up and laid her head in my lap. And that is when I saw IT. Hubs had gone and bought that shock collar! I throw my evil eye upon him and he immediately started with his defense.
He pointed out the fact that we had not heard a peep out of her all night. (evil eye). He pointed out that she has calmed down to a normal dog’s energy. (slight evil eye). And the most important thing was the collar seemed to have a calming affect on her that made her a bit braver and more confident. (Are you kidding me? Huge Evil Eye!). He gave me a little cockeyed smile. I went to take it off but he forbade me. Oh boy, but I went along with it. I was going to trash it as soon as he went to sleep. However, something happened that night. She did seem a bit more confident. She went in and out the door with ease. No barking and no frightened looks. It was as if this collar was protecting her at all times. I’m sure in her mind everything around her was getting shocked too and therefore nothing would dare move or grab her. I did not throw it away.
Next morning, I asked him about her reaction to the collar. He said she was barking her fool head off at something, probably a falling leaf. He put the collar on and walked back inside. She started to bark again and got a surprise! It shocked her and he said she yelped. She tried it one more time, yelped, then never barked again. It broke my heart to hear this but she was being quiet and acting very content.
Over the years she has become friends with it. She knows the collar gives her more freedom and willingly comes to you to put it on. (we can let her out without fear of the neighbors complaining) You can even ask her where it is and she will look around the room as if she is really looking for it. She has figured out she can bark but only intermittently. The collar gives her a couple of times before it shocks. Please don’t think of this as cruel the why I did at first. We give her the bark time she need to be queen of the back yard and, at least for my dog, it has helped her and us so much. Now to the reason I started this story.
Jeff, our Pomeranian, has a vocabulary of about a billion barks. He loves to continually show off his aptitude. Today was an extremely vocal day for Jeff and Hub had reached his limit. He snatched the collar off Mutt. She gave him a surprised look. He then proceeded to adjust the size to fit Jeff. No! No! I yelled. Mutt started walking in circles. I kept telling Hub he was too little. It would hurt him. But Hub continued with his mission. Before you knew it, Jeff was sporting a new shocking device around his tiny little neck.
I was freaking out. Hub started laughing and I looked at him with contempt only to see him pointing at Mutt. Mutt was sitting on the couch reared back with the whites of her eyes showing. She and Jeff had locked gazes. Her ears were lying down and she was so still she was not even breathing. It looked as if she were telepathically warning Jeff not to make a sound or make a move. And Jeff obeyed her every telepathic thought. He stood there frozen stiff. It was as if she had told him all about that collar. He never made a peep. And she never took her googly eyes off of him. After a few minutes of laughter, from both of us, Hub felt sorry for him because he told me to take it off. I did and off he went out the dog door to educate the backyard critters with his verbal skills. All I can say is I sure am glad the boy knows how to keep his mouth shut when it counts.
Until next time remember this: When you find peace within yourself, you become the kind of person, err, dog who can live in peace with others.