Sunday, December 19, 2010

Schitzo Dog

All day long, I move around the house and the dog follows me. From room to room, upstairs to the basement and back, wherever I go, the dog is always two steps away. When I sit, he lays down. If I get up, he gets up. This dog is my shadow and if I even make brief eye contact with him, he comes even closer for a petting.

Of course this changes when we get outside. He did quite well on his leash today, but as we got home, just ten feet from the door, he spied one of the neighbors' infernal free-range cats and dammit, he pulled the leash out of my hand.

I should be holding tighter, I know, but I'm still used to an older, milder Shepherd who didn't pull crap like that without telegraphing it by freezing in place for a second before attempting to bolt. This one? He just jumps, and he jumps quick. And today he proved that action beats reaction when he lunged and pulled the leash from my hand.

The cat made a hasty exit over a fence, and the dog stopped for a few seconds about ten feet ahead of me, but then as I approached to get him back, he realized that he was free. Free. FREE!!! Free Dog! And off he trotted at a cavalier pace suggesting that he wasn't in any particular hurry but just off for a jaunt into the woods. Naturally my attempts to recall him were unsuccessful. I was alternately repaid with haughty glances, the K-9 equivalent of a smirk, or else I was ignored altogether even though I know damned good and well that he could hear me.

Now if there's anything worse than the helpless feeling of knowing that your dog is loose and roaming around where literally anything can happen to him, it's the knowledge that all of your neighbors can hear you calling your dumbass dog over and over again, until finally they all know that your supposedly loyal hound is disrespecting the hell out of you.

So for the next forty-five minutes, I coax and cajole and silently rage as this dog trots round and round my house, and my neighbor's houses, always staying in sight but well out of reach. He goes up a steep, snow-covered hill to the street behind mine, so I drive up there to get him and as soon as he sees me, he runs back down to the house again. What fun! Then he goes to the cat people's house and goofs around in their yard for a while. I can't get near him of course, because in the snow-covered rough terrain of the woods, he's ten times faster than me. It's like a dump truck trying to catch a Porsche on a race track--not gonna happen. A couple of neighbors try to lure him, but he's not having any of that. He just frolicks back and forth, and runs around people's houses, having a ball as the sun goes down. Hell, what do I do when it gets dark and I can't see him any more? I hate this dog. I'm about ready to go back in the house and find his receipt when suddenly I get an idea.

"Bye, dog," I yell as I walk down the street away from him. It works--he's following. He's staying at a distance, but he's following. OK. Hopefully I can work this.

I stop. He stops. I sit down. He bounds off. I get up and start walking again. He runs after me but stops every time I look, dropping into that ready crouch that dogs seem to equate to "On your mark...get set..." I keep walking, doing my best not to look. I listen for him instead. And it works...sort of. I hear his collar and claws on the road, but before I can react, he blasts past me like a Phantom jet not a foot away from my leg. I try to stomp on the leash but just miss it. DAMN YOU! He's fucking with me big time, now. He runs into another neighbor's yard and disappears around back of their house. well screw him--I'm not following him. I wait. Sure enough, after a minute, his curiosity gets the better of him and he peeks out from around the corner of the house. So I turn and walk away from him again, this time up the driveway of the neighbor across the street. He trots after me again, passing me just out of grab range, but then he pauses at the base of the steps to their front porch. If he goes up there, I'll have him trapped. If he doesn't, we're back to square #1 again. He stands there, looking at me. I try the command that I've been using to get him up into my truck: "UP!"
And nice as you please, he goes up the steps onto the railed porch. I've got him.

I get hold of his leash, and I smile and praise him and hand him a treat from my pocket. I'm pissed, but this isn't the time to punish, lest he equate getting caught with an ass-whupping. I'll never get him back again if he makes that connection. So I take him home and bring him in the house, and to be quite frank, I don't want to see this dog for a while. But what does he do? Yep, as soon as we're back inside, it's Velcro-dog again. He resumes his old role as my shadow like we've always been Best Friends Forever.
Jekyll and Hyde have got nothing on this dog, let me tell you.

Now I want an electric collar. One with a remote control. It doesn't have to buzz, or shock him or do anything like that. No, I just want one that will blow his head clean off the next time I call him and he just gives me that mocking look as he trots off. That'll teach him.

I swear I'm gonna trade this dog for a goldfish, then I'm gonna flush the goldfish.


  1. He was playing with you! He trusts you enough to play and that's not really a bad thing. ;-)

  2. I'll play with him all day if he'll just stay in my yard and come when he's called. I don't ask much of my dogs, but coming to me when called is an absolute must, if only for their own safety.

  3. Anonymous7:40 AM

    Geeze sounds like our current dog.
    A Jack Russell Terrorist.

    Kids beggged and pleaded with me to get another after we had to put down my Brit at 14 and their Schnauzer whom was diabetic but a wonderful loyal and totally devoted to them.

    So I caved and for a year I let them deal with and try to train Jak. I finally had to step in. We were ready to kill the dog.
    He is now a pretty damn good dog.
    But lord help us if he gets loose on the wife or kids. The chase is one.
    Me? I roar his name and he comes running to me or straight for the house.

    Good Luck.

    And I have used electricity on dogs before.

    It works and screw those whom piss and moan about it. Esp when the other option is a bullet.

  4. You're better at this than me, that's for sure. But it sounds like 1) he's willing to follow but 2) he doesn't see you as the alpha-dog yet.
    (You may have to mark your territory or something.)

  5. Great story, admirably told! I could just see his mocking expression. And feel his neediness. Shock collar and whistle training worked with our lab -- the shock doesn't hurt, but it gets his attention.

  6. May I suggest the name Shadow or Shadowfax (with apologies to Tolkien)? He's dark...kinda like a shadow. He follows you a shadow. He will take off for the horizon at light speed if given a loose hand on the Shadowfax of Tolkien fame. Just a thought.

  7. The basics of playing any game are that first you must learn the rules. It is his game, therefore he has written the rule book. You haven't figured out the rules yet.

    He LOVES to play! You still don't understand the difference between illegal procedure and off-sides. You're not sure of how a punt differs from a kick.

    You've got one of the rules it seems. Don't chase him. Get him to chase you. Another one you've got is don't scold when you get him. You might try carrying a bratwurst in your pocket. (You can meet a lot of women that way too!)

  8. Bingo on let him chase you, not the other way 'round. It took my wife and I about 4-5 years to learn that with our pound rescue dog. Same thing as yours on the occasions he'd manage to escape, and we lived near a really busy 55 mph state highway too. Finally we figured out with both of us in our car, get ahead of him and have the passenger lean out and yell "come on Magoo, come on come on" and he would chase us. We'd lead him about a mile deeper into the development and away from the highway, and after trotting a mile after the car (passenger cues the driver when to speed up enough so the dog can't quite catch the car), he'd worn out enough that we could catch him.

  9. Oh man... the break in period sounds like it's about to break you! Hang in there Me...

  10. Call him Loki, God of Mischief.

  11. LOL!! I can't help but laugh after reading this post! I can just see that look.... :)

  12. Anonymous10:38 PM

    Still looking for a name? You found it: "Hyde"

    Suits the dog well.

  13. When I lived down south as a young bride,I had a Samoyed husky who would do that. Hubby was an ag pilot and he'd be gone for weeks during season leaving me to deal with the dogs (other than the occassional weekend when I got to go escape and fly fun stuff). Samoyeds. You know how they look at white and fluffy in the pictures? Well in the wild they come back completely covered in burrs. He was like Velcro dog.

    It would take me hours to get him in, de-burred at which point he wouldn't leave my side.

    I miss that damn dog.