You’re not gonna believe it, but I kept my word from last week’s post. I called Tammy, the dog trainer. (Impressed, aren’t you!) Not only did I call her, but I scheduled an appointment and later resisted the temptation to cancel it. On Monday evening she came and spent an hour teaching us useful tools for keeping the dysfunctional canines in check.
Since Cesar Milan is the only example of a dog trainer in my mental database, I sort of expected Tammy to be Mexican, wearing worn out jeans and a plaid, short-sleeved shirt, perhaps with a gray mustache and goatee. Surprisingly, she wasn’t what I pictured. The woman standing at my door, wielding a spray bottle like a 357-magnum, was a mixture of Girl Scout camp leader and Berkeley environmentalist; the kind of gal who combines Birkenstocks with a pith helmet and a police whistle.
Impressively, Tammy got right to work before I was even able to let her in, spraying our Border Collie mix, Katie, with her water bottle, barking “DOWN, GIRL!” She continued her commands and stream of water until the unnerved pooch sought shelter under the coffee table.
Although I was impressed with her “let’s get right to work” attitude, I’ve never had anyone march through my front door, wetting everything in her path, except my great aunt, Beatrice, who’s incontinent. I think if Emily Post had written a guide for dog trainers, she’d surely have suggested that they get permission before giving their clients’ properties a powerful misting. A casual “hey, do you mind if I spray water all over your house?” couldn’t have hurt. But, on the bright side, at least it was water and not sulfuric acid or formaldehyde. But, then again, who even goes around spraying formaldehyde? Why would you even put it in a spray bottle, unless you were….say….a famous frog dissector.
(I didn’t want to just write “famous frog dissector, rather than the actual name of someone famous for frog dissecting…because, everyone knows that in good writing, you want to use proper noun references that people can relate to. So, I Googled “famous frog dissectors.” Surprisingly nothing came up…… But, somehow, I feel like I’ve drifted far, far away from the subject here. And , really frog dissecting has absolutely nothing to do with Tammy, Katie or spray bottles.)
Back to the story……..
“Wow, that’s quite a spray bottle you have there,” I commented, in a tone meant to say “wow, you’re wetting everything in my house.”
“Dollar Tree! This thing shoots up to 100 feet,” Tammy bragged, in a tone meant to assure me that, if necessary, she could ruin my heirloom family photographs from three rooms away.
Even with the etiquette gaffe, I was hugely impressed at Katie’s instant respect for Tammy.
“You should buy about six of these water bottles,” directed Tammy. “Have one in every room. When your dog does something you don’t like, say ‘NO’ and spray them. Pretty soon, all you’ll have to do is show her the bottle and she’ll fall in line.”
As she animatedly explained, showing me the power of the water bottle, I found my own behavior starting to improve.
Behavior Modification Tip #1-Spray Bottle…check. Too bad it doesn’t work on husbands and kids.
Next we got down to business on keeping Katie corralled. Remember, the whole reason behind Tammy’s visit was to keep Katie from jumping her fence and visiting everyone in the neighborhood like a Jehovah’s Witness, leaving behind droppings, rather than a copy of the Watch Tower.
“Balloons!” announced Tammy.
“Dogs hate balloons. They hate the way they smell. And especially hate it when they pop. Get a balloon, show it to Katie. Let her sniff it. And then pop it in front of her.”
Rummaging through an old box of party supplies, I wondered how terrorizing Katie with a balloon would keep her home. Seems like the kind of thing that would cause her to pack her extra collar and leave for good.
Before I had the chance to verbalize my question, Tammy read my mind and replied.
“We’re going to blow them up and hang them from your fence, spacing them two feet apart. Katie will remember that they smell bad and scare her when they pop. I promise you, she’s not gonna go near the fence again.”
As brilliant as the idea sounded, all I could picture were the neighbors’ faces upon seeing our cheap, ugly, property value decreasing fence, all decked out with colorful balloons, as if we were preparing for a ghetto kid’s birthday party. Perhaps we could offer free pitbull rides too.
I could just hear Mrs. Wetzler exclaim “Oh, forgodsake, Noah! It’s bad enough that we have to look at that eyesore of a fence. But now they’re celebrating the damn thing?”
What’s even worse is now it’s been two days since we ballooned our fence. The rains last night caused eight of them to come untied, spreading the party to three other yards. But, as promised, Katie hasn’t left her area.
I’m just waiting for the “come get your freakin’ balloons off my lawn” phone call.
We have three more visits with Tammy scheduled. Next week, we tackle house training.