Skippy’s previous owners told me, when I questioned them, that he did not bark. I have a witness, it was asked during the Great Skippy Relinquisition and answered in the negative. I asked this because the answer was important to me. I don’t like yippy dogs.
Obviously, those previous owners lied. Forked-tongue demons of the most motivated variety they were, because He Barks. Oh, how he barks. It’s not the kind of thing you forget, like “does he scratch his ears” or “drag his butt,” the sort of intermittent thing you might forget about upon questioning because of its rarity. It’s that high pitched, ear splitting staccato bark, and once he gets worked up, he can’t stop himself. “Yip! Yipyip! YIPYIPYIPYYYYYIIIIPPPPIPPPPPYYYYIIIIP!” My four year old, who isn’t old enough to have heard the figure of speech, covered her ears and told me that he was hurting her eardrums. And she was right. It’s as loud and piercing as that annoying Tatiana from American Idol, and she makes me want to poke my tympanae out.
He barks at my husband.
He barks at visitors.
He barks at men, all men.
And noises, and birds, and reflections and shadows and food and leashes and coffee tables and cats.
He squeezed through the slats in our fence (off to the hardware store!) and ran up to the neighbors in their own yard, and barked at them.
I consulted a trainer today for some much needed guidance. Skippy is a wild man, lacking in any and all discipline, and I need to know if I stand a chance of turning him into a respectable citizen, or if he is a lost cause. I haven’t ever given up on an animal, not yet in my life, but he is quite unlike any of the previous charity cases to land on my doorstep. Smaller, for starters. And exponentially louder.
The trainer listened to my concerns, and brought her dog out for a test. Skippy went nuts, of course. The trainer squirted him in the face with a water bottle (she called it ‘blessing the dog’, an apropos euphemism for a lapsed Catholic like me.) He stopped, at least for a minute. She told me after a brief evaluation if I was willing to do *insert long list of strenuous disciplinary activities*, I stood a good chance of whipping him into shape in six months or so.
Six months? Shall I be praying to St. Francis or St. Jude?
I found a water bottle at home, and I’ve found religion. There’s been a whole lotta blessings going on in the house tonight, let me tell you. Hallelujah. So far it’s helping, but only time will tell if this baptismal bacchanalia is the start of a true conversion or mere false prophecy. Worst case scenario: my neighbor, an elderly lady who was made for dogs like this, is in love with him despite the yipping (I think she’s hard of hearing) and should things get dire, should blessings fail and Skippy stand perched over a smoking abyss, she has offered her loving bosom as an alternative to damnation.
Those previous owners should be shot. They probably felt all good about themselves, bragging that they found a VET and most assuredly they found the dog a new home. Finding the dog a good home doesn’t mean squat if you lie to that good home.
Blessing the dog. Hmmm. I really need to think about that. Piper hates other dogs. We thought we socialized her well. We went on walks, hung out with dogs of all sizes/breeds, and this just meant she just hated dogs that she didn’t know.
Squirt bottle = blessing the dog. Brilliant!
Same thing happened to my sister, except it was the Office that lied to her about the yipping (and the housetraining, but that is a whole ’nother story). I wish we would have known about blessing the dog when I lived with her, thankfully my parents have had a little more luck with her royal yippiness, as we like to call her.