For the past 28 years, our family has owned at least one dog. They have come in all shapes, sizes, and varying degrees of intelligence. Some ate anything you put in front of them with gusto, others had a more selective palate, and one poor, particularly deficient girl had the habit of chewing on rocks. She did stop after cracking a few teeth, which made us think there was some hope for her, but not much.
One common trait among all of them was a fear of the vet. They always knew where they were going and had some weird quirky behavior once we got there. Ralph, would act perfectly fine. He would sit by my side, panting, but relatively calm; that is, until he heard his name. Once his name was called he would fall to his belly and splay his legs out spread eagle on the floor. I would have to grab him by his collar and drag him into the examining room, belly down and legs splayed. Fortunately, the floor was linoleum making him easier to drag. Haven, the biggest and the strongest of any of our dogs at 75lbs., was a mess only in the waiting area. She was determined to sit under my chair, which usually meant that I was, to some degree, airborne. If I moved, so did she. Once her name was called, she would waltz right in, like she was fine.
We are now down to two dogs. Stella, our white, over-sized Chihuahua at 14 lbs., is part of the old guard and is now a little over 15 years old. She goes to the vet in a cat box and is muzzled once inside the examining room. Stinky Stell is still pretty feisty. She’s never bitten anyone, but makes it known that she is capable, even with less than a full set of chompers. And then there’s Phoebe. Phoebe is 3, part Yellow Lab, part Treeing Walker Coonhound. Phoebe still thinks she’s a puppy. Stella is not overly fond of Phoebe, but tolerates her for the sake of peace and harmony in the home. Though all of our dogs have had distinctive personalities, I have to say Phoebe’s is unique.
Phoebe does not bark like a normal dog, she can, but she doesn’t. Phoebe howls…like a banshee. She howls at most everyone and everything within, what she feels, is her domain. She has claimed a yellow leather chair that once belonged to Haven. The “dog chair” has been relegated to the upstairs, somewhat out of sight. It is in front of a window and from this perch, which I’m sure Phoebe thinks of as her throne, she can see people within a 50 foot radius of her kingdom and warn them of her presence. God forbid anyone dare to approach our door. The only thing that stops her bellowing is a water bottle, not the kind you drink, the kind you squirt. We are at the point that I only have to show it to her and ask her if she wants to be squirted, at which point Cliff, in a high-pitched voice will answer, “Yes”. He thinks he’s funny.
Phoebe’s morning walk, which is actually more of a one mile smell, has been interesting.
She rarely lifts her head, but when she does, it’s because she sees another dog. When she sees another dog, she doesn’t just bellow, at times she goes berserk. Her hackles stand at attention, she growls, which would tell me she’s set for a fight; but then her tail is wagging in complete circles, which makes me think she wants to play. She then begins lunging, tail still wagging, and is, at times, completely out of control. I’ve tried clickers and treats, which work fine in the house; but not at all on a walk. I tried a pronged collar, which I quickly discarded. They seem more like torture devices and she would still pull with one on. I now use a harness, which stops her pulling, but not her “berserking”.
Finally, and I believe it was Providence, I got an idea. I am now armed and dangerous on our walks. I am packing…water…as in a water pistol…a big one. I’m sure I look weird, leash in one hand and water pistol in the other, my finger always on the trigger, but it works! The first time I had to use it, Phoebe was completely flabbergasted and had no idea where the water was coming from. She quickly calmed herself down, whining a little, she just put her head down and continued with her ‘smells’. It’s been wonderful!
Yesterday we took both of the girls to the vet for pedicures and a heartworm test. By the way, pedicures at the vet are way more expensive than those in a salon…just so you know. Stell, in her little mini-muzzle, wiggles a lot but is basically fine once they’re done and she’s back in her box. Phoebe hides her head in the armpit of whoever is restraining/holding her and cries. As I said, she is unique, unique and pathetic, but she’s mine.
And, it’s really not that big a deal.