Sep 19 2006

Blog of the Dog

On Saturday we received from Netflix a much anticipated selection. I had been hearing about this show for some time and waiting for it to become available. On Sunday I watched 9 episodes. That’s right, I have fallen into the authoritative grasp (make your hand theese way- like teeth!) of the Dog Whisperer.

You see, we have a rescue dog, Yoko, who came into our life at a time when we thought we couldn’t have children. The fact that I got pregnant a month later made her a fertility dog. She is a very smart, loving, good dog but she has “issues.”

Among some:
- Total and absurd fear of water. So bad that she is almost afraid of her water bowl. She hates baths, rain, hoses (she even hates hoses that aren’t turned on), squirt bottles, etc.

- Fear of having her nails clipped. She even sort of tries to bite us.

- Complete fear of dogs, no matter what their size.

And it is the last item that makes life very difficult for all of us. She is a fear aggressor, meaning, when she is afraid of a dog she goes into flight/fight mode and her mind chooses fight. She goes CRAZY when she sees other dogs. It’s nearly impossible to even take a walk with her. When we first got her we tried going for walks every day. We started trying to work with her to help her get over her fears. Then came winter (in Pennsylvania) and we didn’t like going outside so much. Then I got pregnant and, after a while, I was very nervous about taking her for walks by myself because I didn’t feel very stable and I was afraid of falling or getting jerked around like I knew she was capable of doing. John didn’t want to take her because he just hated her behavior so much. It was like she punished us for taking her out.

Then we moved back to California. We tried going for walks again but we were so busy/tired/sick of her dog-hating attitude that it didn’t happen often. We tried to take her on walks with a friendly dog to show her that other dogs could be nice. She was so scared that when the other dog was behind her at one point, she walked BACKWARDS to keep him in sight. Have you ever seen a dog walk backwards? For about the equivalent of a few city blocks? She’s nuts.

Anyway, in short, we became pretty bad dog-parents. We want to be better.

But, because we’re cheap, we rented the episodes instead of taking her to, y’know, an ACTUAL dog trainer. Whatever. Everything I need to know I can learn from tv, right?

So, the Dog Whisperer, Cesar, seems to recommend about the same thing for every dog. I thought “Hmm. Okay. We can try that.” and went out and bought a choke chain, which I had said previously that I would never do (side note- try not to say “never” about things like this. It could potentially save you from looking like too much of an ass. Like me.). We had tried other collars and harnesses up the wing-wang (we didn’t put them up her wing-wang, I just mean that we tried many varieties of collars and harnesses, which is probably what I should have said in the first place. Moving on.) but never a choke or pinch. When I bought the collar I felt like a hard-ass. Except that I had to ask how it worked…

So we tried it. Working? Yeah? Uh…not so much. I thought that these collars were supposed to teach a dog not to pull, but she pulled just as much as usual. She pulled so much that I could feel the vibrations of her trying to swallow through the leash. Ick.

I don’t get it. Are we doing something wrong? Did I not get some special move that Mr. Dog Whisperer uses? Or is my dog trying to commit suicide because life with us is so horrible?

Dammit! I just want to walk my effing dog!!!