I have told you about my wee (cat) dog Lucy. Happy Birthday! She is now 8 years old. She is my mixed shi-poo (shit-zu/poodle mix) breed. She is dysfunctional as a dog. Why? Lucy was diagnosed with strangles at 3 months. The cure for this illness was to suppress her immune system. Being prone to infection, that meant no going out for walks, no meeting other dogs. I couldn’t give her puppy training like I had with Waldo. With Waldo I got to take him to puppy classes so he could play with other dogs and meet other people and get to know the world around him. What happened next?
I thought I came up with a genius plan. When I would take Waldo out for his walks, I would put Lucy in an insulated lunch bag, which I would carry on my shoulder, and let her head peek out so she could get accustomed to sights and sounds in the neighbourhood. She would slip her head out and I hoped she would get used to the sounds of cars and buses and airplanes, the noise of other dogs, the noise of people talking. I wanted her to see bicycles and motorcycles. She needed to get used to the world like Waldo did.
Well…it didn’t quite work out as I had hoped. The only dogs she could be exposed to were…well…only Waldo. She had been on the immune suppressing drugs for over 3 months and my nightly walks did not really help her see the real world. How do I know this? A leaf blows by…DANGER! She barks at it. A butterfly goes flying by…DANGER! She barks at it. Wheelchairs. DANGER! Birds. DANGER! “Well, if she isn’t a good dog, then why is she barking at stuff like a normal dog would?” you may be asking. Dysfunctional, but observant, is my Lucy.
Being quarantined with Sir Waldo, she learned what to do by imitating him. She barks at EVERYTHING hoping she will get it right. She will bark and Waldo will come running. If it’s a leaf…he won’t bark. After all these years she still can’t get it right. Example: He will bark at a bird. He is facing the bird and barking at it. What does Lucy do? She stands in front of him, facing him and barks at HIM. Great dog (dripping with sarcasm)!
I told you that whole story to tell you this story:
Today, poor girl needed a haircut. Sadly her big bro, her protector and guide, had to stay home. He has an infection. I put the leash on her. Normally she barks like crazy, but this time there was only silence. We got in the car. Silence. She shook nervously in the car the whole drive there (8 minutes). Normally she would be barking up a storm to impress her brother, but he wasn’t there. I parked and looked to my left and that’s when I saw it. An abandoned shopping cart. I debated moving, but then thought I could get her out of the car without noticing. Nope. Oh the horror and terror! Lucy went wild! She knew it was evil!
We got into the store and she barked at every dog she saw (at Petsmart) because that is what her brother had taught her. We got to the grooming salon. I had carried her the whole way (all 9 lbs of her) because it was rainy and icky outside. Well, I put her down so that she could feel like a dog again. She scampered over to me, she stood on her hind legs and with her front paws scratched at my legs. I picked her up. She was still shaking. Where was Waldo when she needed him?!
Her haircut was actually a trim. She was there for a total of 20 minutes. I came back to pick her up and she gave me an earful of complaints. From the time I picked her up, paid for the cut, drove home, the barking did not subside. I was evil and she was letting me know it. Once we got through the front door she went running to find her big brother and tell HIM everything that had happened to her. After finally exhausting herself with all the barking, she felt safe once again and perched herself up on her lookout chair, looking through the window to make sure she would be the first to bark and protect us from any imminent danger.
Here is a list of the most perilous items that she needs to warn us about: leaves, butterflies, birds, children walking by, adults walking by, teenagers walking by, people walking by carrying groceries, letter carriers, strollers, bicycles, tricycles, buses, cars, motorcycles, lawnmowers, weed-whackers, squirrels, birds, people waiting at the bus stop, rabbits, cats, garbage trucks, recycling trucks, garbage blowing by, wheelchairs, scooters, and anything she has never seen before…like a shopping cart in the parking lot. Yes, that would be the short list.
Now we come to dogs; other dogs. Barking, walking, running…those, she has learned, are what she really needs to keep her guard up for. For, when a dog goes walking by, she has learned to bark incessantly and the look around to see when Waldo will come to bark his approval of her house defense. Then she is so full of pride because her brother, the one who never wants to play with her or be near her, will come and bark too so that they can quell the offender. Yes, the terror is real…my dogs (dog and half-dog) can confirm that.