Archive of ‘Silly Stories’ category
My mobile phone is in the midst of an identity crisis. It sounds like a joke but I couldn’t be more serious. It is stuck in cellular purgatory. Not quite a Blackberry, not quite an Android, it doesn’t know where it belongs. Half the time, it doesn’t even know it is a phone. Frankly, it is a mess. I don’t know how much longer we can co-exist.
It used to be so cool. When we first met, I felt proud to have it in my pocket. We were pals. I loved to talk up its full keyboard with its wicked email functionality. And if you have never used Blackberry Messenger, you are missing out on one of the smoothest communication systems ever implemented on a smart phone. The messaging system of a generation. And the emoticons? Don’t even get me started.
Alas, due to extenuating circumstances, we are going to have to part ways. It isn’t something I ever foresaw. Despite all of the naysayers, I have been true to my dear little phone. Applications and photography meant nothing to me. I didn’t flinch when friends went the way of Instagram and Evernote. Loyalty, that is what mattered to me. They could keep their Angry Birds and their high-speed Internet. My Blackberry and I were just fine with our app-less realm filled with blurry photos.
But, something unfortunate occurred and I was forced to make a difficult decision: my camera lost its zoom. And I mean this quite literally. The zoom button on my camera is broken. Thus, all of my photos require serious editing before they can be published online. Otherwise they look like this:
Do you know what the subject of the above photo was supposed to be? Me neither. Anymore. Ugh. Pretty unforgivable for a blogger who spends the majority of her time posting pictures of her dog.
So maybe zoom isn’t as big of an issue as my impatience and utter lack of skill. Whatevs.
Something had to be done. As much as it pained me, and it hurt a lot, I knew I had to make a change. The world cannot be deprived of Shiva photos. It is my sworn duty, after all. It has gotten to the point that I either spend money on a new camera or upgrade my cellular plan. A greater dilemma one has never faced.
I loved my little black phone. It was the first mobile device to give me access to email on the fly. We had a great time together, chuckling over Facebook feeds, making snarky remarks on Twitter. Unlike all of my other phones, this one understood me. It knew my distaste for personal calls and responded by having almost no calling ability whatsoever. Never once did it make me feel guilty for not answering a ring. Never once did it store a voicemail message for me not to return later. In gratitude, the only time I forced it to make a call was in the midst of a dire emergency. Even then, I made sure to keep it under a minute. I could always tell when my phone was overwhelmed by the heat in my palm. I will miss that heat. We were united in our anti-social inclinations. It never expected me to be who I wasn’t. I never demanded anything more than it was capable of providing.
This isn’t to say our relationship was perfect. There were times I took my phone for granted, neglecting it enough so as to let it fall in a puddle. Unforgivable, I know. But did it forsake me? Perish the thought! As soon as I realized my mistake and gave my phone it’s due, all was well again. My phone never held a grudge.
Sadly, things changed. My wireless company was displeased with the lack of modernization within my account. They told me I could not update my phone number from a Nova Scotia line unless I upgraded my calling plan. They didn’t understand the link between my phone and I. They especially didn’t understand my lack of calling features. They wanted to separate us forever.
For a long time, I refused. Faithful to my stocky pal, I weathered their threats and clung to the past. They couldn’t make me change. I would never let go! They would have to pry my Blackberry from my cold, dead hands.
And then my camera lost its zoom and my priorities shifted. With a new job forcing me to hustle from one meeting to the next, having a phone that could be used as a phone started to make more and more sense. I couldn’t keep paying long distance charges every time I needed to call a taxi. It was time to say goodbye.
Now, as I wait for my new phone to arrive, scared to discover uncharted land, my Blackberry isn’t what it used to be. It has forgotten how to and has all but lost connection to the outside world. The only communication we have these days is via text message. It just isn’t the same. It knows the end is coming. I wish there was something I could do to ease its transition to the next world. I wish I knew what to say or how to prepare.
The thing is, I am not as afraid as I expected I would be. The time has come to discover my next mobile relationship. It won’t be the same, it couldn’t be. I will never forget my Blackberry. It was my first glimpse of a new technological world, my first real experience of mobile freedom, of breaking out on my own without being tied down by cords and dying laptop batteries. Nevertheless, if there is anything this week has taught me, as I say farewell to my fading smart phone, it is that I am nothing if not resilient. Just as I learned how to type on my Blackberry’s keyboard, I will conquer the touch screen. I am ready to move on.
Maybe, just maybe, I’ll even set up my voice mail this time. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
Finally! Dog blogs are legitimized! They aren’t just for odd women who get up far too early every morning and need someone to whom they can vent all of life’s frustrations.* Pet bloggers are cool people too!
At least, that’s what I thought after my first, second, and even third viewing of the below commercial. Now that I have come down from the high of temporary credibility, I am realizing this adorable television ad is not what I’d hoped. It turns out, the lyrics aren’t what I thought they were. I hate when that happens. Sometimes actually paying attention to the real words being said is such a bummer.
Before I say any more, I’ll give you a chance to understand what I am talking about.
Cute, right? I mean, she has a dog blog and everything! This is my life! I can relate!
Except for the fact that I can’t. Not really. Those bothersome things called “sexism” and “diet industrial complex” and “grammar” make it very hard to enjoy what could have been an endearing little commercial. If this is the world’s idea of a “morning win” I am worried for the future of the world. Frankly, a morning where all I eat for breakfast is a thin cookie is not one for the record books.
To ease some of my pain, I thought it would be fun to come up with my own sunrise song. I haven’t filmed a video – I am too much of a perfectionist for that – but maybe a company will hear my cry and give me the cash to do it right.
It’s worth a shot.
Here is my idea of a morning win:
I had a shower, ran the dog, took some photos for my blog, didn’t get hit on during my commute.
Bought a muffin, scored free coffee, pet a kitten, lamented hockey, impressed the boss with an argument she could not refute.
Deadlines chased, projects aced, dressed with taste, mistakes erased, and I even wrote this song!
What do you think? Sure, my version doesn’t have a fluffy poodle but it is a morning that would make me proud.
I know, I think far too much about commercials. These things are not meant to be analyzed with half as much effort as I put in. But humour me, will you? What is your idea of a morning win?
*Please note, I describe only myself with this sentence. Most dog bloggers I know have active social lives and are not even slightly strange. In fact, they are so normal, it’s creepy.
Shiva and I make for the most awkward team in history. We must rank up there with any movie starring Michael Cera. I wonder if the combination of over-anxious dog and over-imaginative human is a smart idea. Maybe Shiva and I should never be left to our own devices. It only leads to trouble or utter embarrassment. It looks like I am at a two for two on the mortification scale this weekend.
Do any of you remember this post? If not, I will give a rapid summation: Shiva and I were walking in the ravine, pre-dawn. I couldn’t see very far ahead due to the lack of light. All of a sudden Shiva stopped and refused to move forward, a very weird action on her part. Staring straight ahead she barked several times, seemingly at nothing. Freaking out and thinking it was either a pack of coyotes or a serial killer hiding in the trees, I swung around and booted it out of there as fast as my rubber soled feet could carry me through the snow.
Well, in the light of day we have now uncovered the source of all the commotion, the reason for Shiva’s unaccountable behaviour. I brought her back to the same area and she had the exact same reaction only this time I could see what was causing her so much consternation. The closer we walked to the evil doer, the more tense she became. Until she too realized her mistake. The crazy thing is, she didn’t even look that ashamed.
Can you guess based on the picture below?
Any thoughts? How about if I make it easier?
That’s right, Shiva was flipping out over a garbage can. A large garbage can that had been moved closer to the path, but nonetheless, the same metal container containing rubbish Shiva has encountered millions of times before. Garbage cans have apparently been added to her long list of enemies, a list which also includes rocks, garden gnomes, plastic bags, fire hydrants, snowmen, and lake monsters.
So much for the canine instinct. Perhaps I just need to invest in a good headlamp. Sheesh.
A dog who was known for her eagerness, though some may have called it plain meddlesomeness, spent a great deal of time in search of fresh smells and adventure. Intrusive she may have been but she was also a friendly sort. While sniffing and traveling she came across many fellow wanderers and meeting others was one of her greatest pleasures. No matter how startling the appearance of a fellow wanderer she always approached like an old friend. In other words, the dog had little use for manners and never understood when others were not so keen to converse.
On one of such journeys, the dog found herself trotting down a narrow path. She closed her eyes, touched her nose to the ground, and picked up an unfamiliar smell. Delighted by the prospect of a new encounter, the dog kept her nose in the dirt and allowed the scent trail to guide her. It wasn’t long before she found herself eye to an eye and nose to nose with a strange looking creature indeed.
The dog had never seen such an odd little face in her life. It had two eyes and what looked like a nose but the stubby legs and the wide body were covered in a mysterious sort of fur. The astonishing mammal blinked once and the dog blinked back. Ever curious, the dog continued to sniff, putting her face right into the neck of the other animal.
“What are you doing?” squeaked the smaller being. “Don’t you know I could hurt you?”
This made the dog giggle. “How could you hurt me? I am a dog with big teeth and you are a rodent-smelling thing. Do you want to play?”
The odd creature, being a quill-covered porcupine, had no desire to interact further with such a silly beast. He had twigs to eat and clover to find and had no time for leisure. Besides, he was a slow-moving animal and knew the dog’s kind of games were not games he liked to play.
“Certainly not,” said the porcupine and with that last he circled around to furrow back in the bush. As he turned his tail swished and hit the dog in her interfering black nose.
“Ouch!” cried the dog and she sprung back. She would have jumped forward again to give chase to the spiny animal but she was stopped by the leash attached to her collar. The dog did not understand why the porcupine had been so rude as to cause her pain. Rubbing her nose with a paw, she wandered away.
It wasn’t too long before the dog met the porcupine again. This time there was no leash to restrain her. When she spotted a pointy tail wagging out of a thicket, she bounced over to say hello, wagging her tail in response.
“Hello, you odd creature!” The dog shoved her nose under the belly of the smaller animal. “Would you like to play today?”
The porcupine was quite startled. He had been enjoying an early breakfast of bark and willow leaves and did not appreciate the nosey dog interrupting his meal.
“Eep!” the porcupine shouted. Abandoning his food, he shuffled as quick as he could over to a nearby tree. Much to his dismay, the dog followed right behind.
“But why?” asked the dog, leaning forward to sniff his neck. As she leaned with her tonque flicking out a quill caught her just below her eye. “Eieeeeeee!” The dog cried out, shaking her head in pain.
“I warned you!” squeaked the porcupine. He seized the moment of the dog’s surprise to shimmy up the tree. “Leave me alone!”
“But why?” The dog persisted. Even though her eye watered from the spiney jab, she placed her front paws on the trunk of the tree. Her tail wagged vigorously behind her. “I just want to taste you!”
“Don’t you learn?” asked the porcupine from his spot on a branch above the dog’s head. “I have already hurt you twice. I will hurt you again.”
The dog started up at the strange-looking animal, tilting her head. She couldn’t understand why she had been hurt but didn’t think it had anything to do with the creature in the tree. He was so small and so slow. She was so big and so fast. It must have been a mistake.
Eventually the dog was called away from the tree with the promise of dinner and the porcupine was left to his own devices. He hoped it was the last he would see of the ignorant beast. But it was not to be so.
A few days later, just as the porcupine was meandering off to bed, the dog appeared at the rise of a hill in the meadow. The sun had yet to rise and the porcupine hoped he would not be seen. Alas, the dog took a big sniff of the air and then started to wag her tail in his direction. With nowhere to hide, the porcupine crouched his stubby legs and curled up into as much of a ball as he could.
“Hello again!” The dog bounded over. “Would you like to play?”
The porcupine did not answer. Instead, he curled up tighter. The dog jumped in a circle around him, barking and laughing. When he didn’t respond, she shoved her face underneath him to get a good whiff.
“Ow!” cried the dog. “Ow! Ow! Ow! Ow!”
The porcupine lifted his head, expecting to see the dog running away. He was surprised when she continued to stand in front of him, tail still high in the hair. The porcupine immediately lost his patience.
“I don’t understand you,” he declared. “Three times we have met and three times I have hurt you. How many times will it take you to learn? What kind of animal are you?”
The dog puzzled over this question, thinking the spikey fellow even stranger than ever. What kind of animal did she look like? After much deep thought the dog answered as honestly as she could.
“I am a Shiva.”
The porcupine’s shoulders hunched and he let out a sigh. All of a sudden he understand. If a Shiva had infiltrated the forest, there was no hope for solitary creatures like him. It was time to find a new home.
Fool you once, shame on me. Fool you twice, shame on you. Fool you three times… You must be a Shiva.
Before anyone worries, no Shivas were seriously injured in the telling of this story. Shiva has encountered several porcupines and has once chased one into a tree, but any wounds were strictly to her pride.
Top Ten Reasons to Bring Your Cat With You on an Airplane
1. You are deaf.
2. You are moving across the country for the second time and the last time your cat’s screeching during the drive nearly caused you to be arrested for animal cruelty.
3. Your practically husband threatened to put the cat in the box of the truck if he had to endure another five-day road trip with His Yowliness.
4. You have a pet blog and think it would be a fun experience to write about.
5. You are insane.
6. Your cat already spends his days plotting your death and may as well have one more reason to hate you.
7. You are seeking revenge on your cat for chewing the cord of your $300 flat-iron.
8. Your cat is deaf and/or dead and/or actually a stuffed animal.
9. You want to discover if the pitch of your cat’s cries is louder than that of a newborn baby.
10. You have a loving relationship with your cat and he or she travels well, ie. you live in a magical fantasy land, ie. your veterinarian is kind enough to give you drugs.
Top Ten Reasons Not to Bring Your Cat With You on an Airplane
1. You have healthy hearing abilities.
2. You are moving across the country for the first time and naïvely think your cat will do well on a road trip for five days even though he despises the car and even though you have never leash or kennel trained him before.
3. Your cat’s yowls are easily drowned out by the radio.
4. You decide to put your cat’s comfort first and turn down the job promotion.
5. You haven’t lost your mind.
6. You are pretty sure the pilot will make an emergency landing just to get away from your cat’s screeching.
7. You have a loving relationship with your cat and have spent many years training him so he travels well in the car, ie. you are a far better person than I am.
8. Your cat has healthy hearing abilities and/or is alive and/or is not a stuffed animal.
9. Your veterinarian only gives you a small cloth soaked in feline hormones, an item which is essentially useless when your cat is already stressed from being shoved into a bag, hauled out of said bag when going through security, and then shoved back in for six hours straight without being able to empty his bladder.
10. You are smart and decide to ship him cargo.
Blog statistics aren’t something I delve into very often. They usually make me feel icky inside. Numbers have always had that effect on me, really. Ever since I entered ninth grade and encountered trigonometry. And graphs.
Naaaasty. Wasn’t math so much nicer before all that crap? When all one had to do was find the value of x?
Because it’s been a self-esteem-kicking week, I decided I may as well pummel myself down further and dust off the ol’ Google Analytics. Maybe I just needed an excuse to pour myself another glass of wine, I am not sure. Regardless, I logged in and immediately became immersed. It wasn’t the statistics themselves that grabbed my attention, though. I really still could care less about those. It was the common search terms.
Hilarious stuff, truly. If you haven’t checked out yours lately, I highly recommend it for a giggle.
Most of the top ten items on the list made sense. A lot of “rescued insanitys”, “heart dogs”, and “what to buy before getting a dogs.” It stunned me that according to Google the top search term for my website is actually “Rottweilers” and by an enourmous margin. It is something like thirty percent! To this day my most popular post ever written was the one in which I admitted to an instinctive, yet embarrassing fear, of the breed. I hope this means my shame-faced confessions have helped other people conquer their own demons.
Yep, focusing on the positive today.
Many of the other search terms were not nearly so logical. I thought I would share some of the ones that had me raising an eyebrow. The title of this post being number one, here are some of the others on the list:
“Empty bread bag” – This makes me a little sad, actually. I hope these people were able to find some cheer through my silly stories, despite their lack of bread.
“Pimp outfit” – I am sure most of these people were sorely disappointed.
“Cats are evil” – Egads! No! Cats are AWESOME! Awesome, I tell you! Pay no attention to the cat plotting my demise in the shadows…
“Name a breed of dog a man would be embarrassed to admit he’s afraid of” – This is a judgment-free zone. You will not be mocked for your fear of Yorkies here. I promise.
“Picture of elephant’s front feet” – Did you find what you came for? If you didn’t here you go:
“Tim Flach poster” – I am sorry to say I didn’t know who this was until I looked up his name. I am so glad I do now.
“Fort Needham Memorial Park” – Ugh. Worst. Dog Park. Ever.
“Don’t say you ever loved me you always loved yourself” – Yikes. Good luck with that. Sounds like you are better off without.
“Absurd looking dog handlers” – You came to the right place?
Why, yes. I would rather stick a slobbery pouch in my back pocket than wear a fanny pack.
“Breed of dogs with crook at the end of tail” – I believe you are thinking of the Briard.
“If my dog shits in the woods do I have to pick it up” – Yes.
“I fostered kitten now its gone and I miss it” – Awww, that’s sweet. There is an easy solution to that problem, though. Why not foster another?
“Just Say Nana Na Nan Anananaaaana” – You know what? I couldn’t have said it better myself.
Have you come across any interesting search terms for your website? Do share. I always appreciate a reason to laugh.
As I am writing this and you are reading it, I think it is safe to say we have all survived the latest Apocalypse. While the Mayans may or may not have been wrong, a part of me is disappointed. It would be cool to live in a bus shelter. That and I was hoping to get out of the credit card bills I’ve accumulated. It’s really too bad.
I got the idea for this post from one of my blogging heroes, Karen Walrond. Last week on 12/12/12 she live photoblogged her day, showing bits and pieces of her experiences throughout a typical day in her life. I instantly wanted to do something like that myself, though my photographs aren’t going to be nearly as gorgeous as Karen’s. I may have missed 12 12 12 but what better day to record for posterity than the End of the World? In the future, it will be fun to come back to this one day of my life to remember what the little details looked like.
I will start with the first pictures I took after waking up this morning. As the day progresses, I’ll keep updating with more shots from my thrilling part of the world. Prepare to be stunned with just how glamorous things are at Shiva’s House of Deluded Dreamers. It’s just like something out of old Hollywood.
Welcome to the Advent Calendar for Dog Lovers hosted by Kol’s Notes, PupLove, Rescued Insanity, Woof Woof Mama & I Still Want More Puppies!
Today’s giveaway is sponsored by the Real Meat Company. Click here to enter to win a prize package of their new freeze-dried real meat dog food and be entered to win our Grand Prize package worth more than $1000!
The first time I heard about the book Things Your Dog Doesn’t Want You To Know was in a review written on The Poodle (And Dog) Blog. It sounded so delightful and I was tickled a few days later when I received an email offering me a free copy to review on my own website. While product reviews hold little interest for me, I am always up for a chance to check out a new dog book. Especially one as pretty as this.
If you haven’t heard of the book before or read any of the other reviews on the tour, essentially it is broken up into eleven separate stories as told by eleven different dogs. Each tale is broken into different parts throughout the book and written as a series of letters. You can either flip through the book reading each story in its entirety before moving onto the next one, or – like I did – you can start at page one and read straight through to the end. Either way you are sure to find a giggle at every turn.
Authors Hy Conrad and Jeff Johnson are obviously big-time dog lovers and based on their understanding of the canine brain I assume they have lived with many dogs in their lifetimes. From his website I learned Mr. Conrad was one of the writers of the popular television show Monk and this creative background definitely shows in his latest work.
While most of the dogs’ stories made me laugh out loud, there were a few that depicted a different, more dramatic tone. The life of Sarge the German Shepherd, for instance, seemed anything but happy. I think my PH is still a little miffed the working dog was given such a bad lot.
With so many dogs, it was hard for me to choose a favourite. Would it be the consummate lab, Axelrod? Or the OCD Border Collie, Bandana? Naturally, my love for mixed breeds held out and it was Moonbeam the scraggly rescue who retained my strongest affection. I loved her version of humour so much that I was inspired to write a little “Shiva” tale based on one of Moonbeam’s letters:
Things Shiva Doesn’t Want You To Know, or “Why I’ll Never Be A Champion”
I know you are frustrated with me when I run around on the agility course like I don’t know what I am doing. You are worried I am stressed out or that I don’t like to play the game anymore. Neither of those are true in the least. I love jumping over obstacles! Even more I love running through those wooshy tunnels! Can’t you tell by the way I pass up treats in order to zoom through just one more time?
It’s not that I don’t know my job either. Please don’t insult me that way. We have been practicing for three years! I’m not stupid and I am way, way faster than every other dog. If I wanted, I could show everyone up, even those snobby Shelties, and be a world champion by now!
Here’s the thing: I don’t want to.
There is something about me you don’t know. Something that happened long before I ever met you. I’d tell you but I’d have to kill you. No joke! It’s a secret so big I had to be put in the Witness Protection Program for Dogs. Seriously! It’s a real thing! That’s how I ended up at the shelter and why they tried so hard to get you to take me home. They knew I’d live a life of obscurity in your care. No offence. This is why I was so anxious all the time that first year. I kept thinking I saw the guy who was after me. I had to bark and bark and bark to keep everyone away, just in case.
Then we started doing the agility thing and it was so much fun! For a while I almost forgot all about my past and how I had to remain unknown. When I learned from the other dogs how famous I would get if I kept at it, I realized I had no choice. I had to throw the match. And every other match. It’s the only way I can stay safe.
It’s not easy! Sometimes I still forget I have to be careful and I find myself actually following directions and flying over the obstacles like the superstar I am. But then the videos get aired and I get worried my cover will be blown. So next time I have to pretend I am crazy again. You have no idea how much it hurts to see those slow dogs win all the ribbons and all I get is a sad expression from you. My soul! It bleeds!
So now you know. Don’t tell anyone okay? It will be our little secret.
Okay, I am totally making this up. I can’t lie! The reason I run around so much is because it’s just so much fun! You should try it! Maybe then you wouldn’t be so frustrated all the time. Take it from me, life is too short.
Shiva (the Dog)
If you think that was amusing, you’ll want to read the eleven better accounts in the actual published book. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and you’ll probably never look at your own dogs the same way again. Don’t believe me? Find out what the other bloggers on the tour have to say!
One of these days I will quit forgetting that Shiva is a wackadoodle dog and actually jump in before she does something really stupid. I don’t know when, exactly. But it’s gonna happen. One would think after three and a half years I’d have very low expectations and just assume Shiva will choose the most insane path. She has no common sense, not even doggy common sense. She is predictable in her unpredictability. You’d think a gal would learn.
When walking with said wingnut canine, I like to find different ways to challenge her. There are only so many directions to go and after a while I think both of us get bored. Many things in the environment can be used like agility equipment. Rocks, trees, stone walls, and lamp posts are just some of the things I get Shiva to jump on or turn tightly around. It’s great practice. It also distracts her from scarfing whatever garbage she can find.
One of the items I’ve used a lot are park gates. Not the big fancy ones obviously but the lower ones set up to block cars from driving on the path. Kind of like this, only without the cattle grating in front of it:
Some of them are even lower than the one above and Shiva can jump without effort. Most of them are more like chains than actual metal gates. They are perfect for working on simple lead-outs or crosses. Since my jumps at home are too heavy to carry with me, they also serve as a way to get Shiva used to working in distracting environments. For all the good that does us.
ANYway, there is a gate at the end of a local nature trail that is much taller than the others. It must reach over five feet. When I stand next to it, the central bar comes up to about eye level. I am around 5’7″. There is also another bar underneath this one that is more typical Shiva jumping height.
The other day Shiva and I were walking down this nature trail and at the last minute, I decided to direct her to jump between the two bars and over the lower one. Nothing we haven’t done before. Unshockingly, she did it again this time without a problem. Easy peasy. I rewarded her and then turned to get her to jump it again in the opposite direction.
Well, she definitely jumped!
Over the top bar. The one that stands over five feet. She would have cleared it without issue too. That’s the crazy thing. But once she was up there she decided to try to land on the bar itself. Don’t ask me why. Shiva delights in defying logic and giving me weekly heart attacks.
Of course a bar is not a thing easily stood upon. Her feet slipped on contact and I watched my dog spill over the other side of the gate, legs splayed. It would have been hilarious. If she was someone else’s dog and I was watching the action on Youtube.
Shiva was fine. I type that a lot, don’t I? I mean, I am sure she has done irreparable damage that will give her chronic pain later in life but even after she awkwardly hung over the lower bar and scrambled for safety on the ground, she looked at me like she wanted to try it again.
What does one do with a dog like Shiva? Sometimes I am tempted to cover her in bubble wrap and plonk a helmet on her head before I ever let her out the door again. Then I realize she will probably just get the bubble wrap snagged on a tree branch as she decides to climb after a delicious-looking food wrapper that blew up on a gust of wind.
You have to laugh or you will cry.
Once upon a time…
Let’s travel back to September, 2009. Shiva had been living with us for about six months and nothing was going right. She had fears. She had destructive tendencies. She got into fights with the cat. She terrified anyone who came within 20 metres. Everyone looked at her like she was a monster. This was not the dog I dreamed of when I spent all those months before her adoption planning and researching and cooing at puppies. This was also not the dog the shelter assured me she was.
But the biggest stress of all was not the collection of shoes she ruined or our fear Shiva would one day bite someone. The most worrying issue was Shiva’s unrelenting separation anxiety.
Thankfully our neighbours were saints and had a very vocal Yorkie…
At this point we were essentially living as shut-ins. Aside from the unavoidable – and panic-filled – trips to work, I rarely left the house. We couldn’t take her anywhere with us due to her reactivity and I couldn’t leave her alone any more than absolutely necessary.
We had tried multiple things to help Shiva deal with being alone just a little better. She had her crate and her frozen-stuffed Kong. I also usually hid treats in different parts of her blanket to keep her occupied. I took her for an active hour-long walk every morning before I left and another hour-long adventure when I got home. We tried leaving for brief periods; I tried leaving from alternate exits; I tried leaving the television on. If there was a tip on the Internet, I tried it.
None of them seemed to help and our neighbours were growing even more concerned about the length of time she would spend crying. I worried we’d come home to find an SPCA vehicle in our driveway.
I felt like the worst dog owner in the world…
One day at work I received an email from my best friend. She knew our problems and had just listened to a radio interview with a dog trainer in her community. This trainer had mentioned separation problems and had several good suggestions that my friend shared with me. Many we had already attempted but there was one that was new.
Dogs need to feel safe, the trainer said. Create a space for them similar to a cave. This can be done by purchasing a soft-sided crate out of which the dog cannot see. The idea behind this was if the dog can’t see anything that causes anxiety, such as a bird through a window, then she will be able to relax and sleep.
It seemed like a good idea at the time…
A few days later we were invited out by some co-workers of my PH. They had tickets to a local dinner theatre and wanted us to come along. We hadn’t been out for pure entertainment’s sake for six months and we both really wanted to go. The night in question was a Saturday. I thought if we spent all day working to tire Shiva out, we might be able to enjoy a few hours stress-free while she slept at home.
As we made our preparations to leave I remembered the advice about creating a cave. We only had Shiva’s wire crate and didn’t have time to get another. In a moment of what I though was brilliance, I grabbed a large blanket and arranged it over the top. The sides fell straight to the floor. The only part Shiva could see through was the bottom of the door.
Crossing my fingers that this would be the trick, I held my breath and closed the front door of the house. It seemed too much to hope but when we met up with our friends I tried to think about anything but our poor dog at home.
Three hours later…
We returned home after a fun evening with our hearts in our throats. As I unlocked the door I am pretty sure my heart stopped beating completely. Unable to look, my PH was the first one brave enough to step inside. The sight was not a pretty one.
There was our sad, sad, sad little dog, standing in the middle of the living room with the wire crate cover over her head. The crate bottom was exactly where we had left it, several feet away. The blanket I had used to give Shiva comfort?
Inside the crate top, bunched up on the floor.
The look on Shiva’s face would have been funny if the situation wasn’t so gut-wrenching.
We still debate the possibilities…
How exactly Shiva was able to pull off this maneuver we still don’t know. The conclusion is that Shiva tried to pull the blanket through the bars of the crate. Since it was thick it wouldn’t have been easy so she would have had to brace herself and yank fairly hard. Somehow this violent jerking must have caused the latches to break, detaching the bottom from the top.
The same night the neighbours reported that Shiva had been much louder than usual and there had been quite a racket of clanging for several hours. They had been worried she was injured and knocked on our door to make sure everything was okay.
Clearly the concept of a cave was not going to make our dog feel any safer when alone. The advice I am sure was sound. It just wasn’t what our dog needed.
Three years later…
Shiva’s anxiety is not cured. But it is better than I ever thought it could be. There was no one method that worked. The only thing that did was time, which is not really what I had wanted to hear back then. We were lucky in that Shiva never got hurt during any of her more interesting bouts of anxiety. Not during the crate blanket fiasco described above, nor during the time she flung fish tank charcoal all over the living room.
It could have been a lot worse.
This post was inspired by a question posed on Something Wagging This Way Comes. Have you ever taken good dog training advice only to have it backfire?