Monday, March 29, 2004

Absolute Power

Respect my authority!
-Cartman on South Park

My poor dog Emma's life is going to change this week. We bought a (ahem) "Gun Dog Training Device," un-euphemistically known as a shock collar. I know, I know, we hate it too but we have no choice. The other morning when my husband was putting the dogs into the truck for their run Emma took off. She had seen two bunnies and just started running. My husband yelled at her to whoa but she was too focused on the rabbits to listen. She ran as fast as she could after them as they darted in and out of the neighbor's yards, crisscrossing the street several times. My husband tried to catch her but she disappeared out of sight very quickly. He then drove around trying to find her and after circling several blocks found her trotting along the street that leads to our house heading home. When he called her she came reluctantly because she knew she was in big trouble. We have had this happen many times before but this time it could have ended badly. She just has to stop this behavior before she get herself killed.

Emma is a strange mixture of both obstinate and sensitive and I realized it would not take to many tries before she understands that she could no longer run off when ever she felt like it. I agreed to get the collar with the understanding that we would shock her the least number of times possible. Then as the day passed my husband and I thought of other times we could use the collar to correct her behavior. We could use it to stop her from digging holes in the yard. We could use it to stop her from eating out of Kate's dish. We could use it to stop her from barking all the time. We could use it to make her sit when traveling in the cab of the pickup truck.

Later that afternoon I was in the basement when I head Emma barking upstairs. It was the same bark she would use as a puppy when her ball rolled under the couch. It was her, "Hey, get out from under there," bark. When I went up to see what was going on I found her standing over her food dish. She looked at me, looked back at her dish and barked, "Hey, get out from under there." I walked over and looked in the dish and saw a spider crawling around. I got a piece of tissue, removed the spider, killed it and threw it away. Emma watched me and when I finished I said to her, "Ok, all done." She looked in her dish and then satisfied that the spider was gone went outside.

That night as I lay in bed thinking about this I smiled. One thing I like about Emma is her spirit. Then I thought about the shock collar and was horrified to see that I was thinking of shocking my dog so my life would run a little smoother. I was willing to break my dog's spirit just to make my life easier. In less than 24 hours I had turned into Mussolini, willing to suppress my subjects in order for the trains to run on time.

My husband and I went back to our original agreement. We would only shock Emma to keep her out of danger. We would wait for her to outgrow the other things.
She will. Kate did.

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