Dogs 101 for Twits | September 2007


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Chili Dog—my, ahem, “lovable” little rat terrier who I’ve featured in this space before—is a “hardheaded, disobedient little mutt.”

That’s just one of the choice terms of endearment I’ve given her.

You see, like a recalcitrant teenager, she won’t listen to me when I tell her—over, and over, and over, and…—not to do something.

Recent example: It was early morning and I was getting ready for work. I try my best to keep the noise level down as my new wife—a teacher with the summer off—is still sleeping and I don’t want to wake her up unnecessarily.

Chili Dog had it in that thick little skull of hers to find a baby lizard in an area of the house she knows is off limits to her.

I caught her in the act and stage-whispered an emphatic “NO!”

She slinked away for, oh, all of about five seconds. Then she went back immediately to her favorite activity, which is annoying me (her second favorite activity is annoying our other dog, Gladys).

Again, I stage-whispered (remember, I’m trying to keep the noise level down) “NO!” Again, Chili Dog would slink away and then return to what I had “No’d” her about within seconds.

After the third time this happened, I escalated things a bit: I gave her a “timeout,” which consists of putting her in her crate for a few minutes immediately after telling her “NO” when I catch her doing something she shouldn’t be doing.

But as soon as I opened the crate door to let her out after her timeout was over, she went back.

If you’re the parent of a teenager, I’m sure you’ve seen this type of behavior. I only wish they had a “nuclear” device that would do the trick for teens the way it did for Chili Dog.

The “nuclear” device I’m talking about is not anything that would be cruel to animals, so don’t worry. Much as she can be stubborn, I’d never do anything to hurt her (although sometimes, the temptation…).

The device I’m talking about is called (SHAMELESS PLUG ALERT: Yes, you can buy this off, and yes, if you do buy it off this website, I make a small commission) the Scraminal Deterrent Device.

What it is, is a device about the size of a TV remote control, which you set up either on furniture you’d like to keep hair-free, or in an area you want your dogs and/or cats to stay out of. The device has a motion and heat sensor built into it, and it can tell when your pet approaches. And when he or she does… look out! It lets out an ear-piercing blast that scares the daylights out of Fluffy or Fido, teaching him or her NOT to go there ever again.

Well, I set the Scraminal up. Then I made the mistake of getting into the shower. Fortunately, the Scraminal has low- and high-volume settings, and I had set it to the former. Even so, I had to jump out of the shower, dripping wet, to shut it off.

At least the hardheaded, disobedient little mutt doesn’t go into that particular area of our condo anymore (at least not that I’m aware of). But I have to wonder if it’s because of the Scraminal, or because later that same day, my wife caught the baby lizard and released it outside.

Another annoying habit of Chili Dog’s is her preference for drinking water out of Gladys’ bowl. You see, Gladys has allergies, for which she takes medication (actually, I try to convince her to swallow the medication, usually to no avail). A side effect of her medication is that she’s very thirsty. So I have to make sure her water bowl is constantly filled.

It’s bad enough having to keep on top of this little issue because of Gladys’ own medically induced excessive thirst. What makes it worse is when the hardheaded, disobedient little mutt decides to lift her nose at her own water bowl (never mind that I’m constantly changing the water so both dogs have fresh water at all times) and drink out of Gladys’. When—which is rare, as she keeps getting smarter about this—I manage to catch Chili Dog in the act, she automatically gets a five-minute timeout. Not to mention, the opportunity to learn a variety of curse words I can’t print here. Good thing she’s a dog and not a parrot.

If only they could make a selective Scraminal device that would only work on her and not on Gladys.

If you’ve never owned a dog before, you’re probably wondering why in the heck I put up with this and I don’t just get rid of the hardheaded, disobedient little mutt.

Well, the “hardheaded, disobedient little mutt” is very affectionate, playful, loyal and cute. She has taken very well to my wife, who constantly lavishes her with affection. We enjoy ourselves by indulging Chili Dog with an indoor game of fetch, using her favorite squeaky toy. Watching her rat terrier instincts kick in as she barks at the toy and then shakes it violently in her mouth, is a hoot.

Plus, Gladys probably wouldn’t let us get rid of Chili Dog.