Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Frustration Station

It happened.  Last night I hit my "I can't deal with this anymore" moment.  Hurley, as is usually the case these days, was a complete jerk at the shop for most of the day.  As he gets older, he is sleeping less.  This means more time during the day when he is completely and utterly bored at behaving in the store and decides to bark at me.  All. The. Time.  As you can imagine, this is not a behavior that is either appealing to my customers nor one that I can ignore when I have a customer in the store.  I attempt to shush the first two barks; by the third he's delegated to the slammer (aka, the store kennel).  I know. It's all sorts of bad to punish your dog by putting him in a kennel but I am out of options.  Other than a new rule.  Coming to the store is a privilege, not a puppy right.  We are going to scale down his presence in the store until his attention barking is a thing of the past and he gets 2 days at the shop per week instead of 4.  And the first bark, not the 3rd, prompts a timeout.

But Hurley wasn't the only straw to break my back.  I got home to sofa pillows on the floor and an accident on the couch (thanks, Maggie) and puke in one of the kennels (we're going to assume this is Sadie just to spread the blame around).  These two things normally wouldn't frustrate me in and of themselves - it's not Maggie's fault she has accidents nor is it Sadie's fault that dogs occasionally puke.

But then I get to cooking some fabulous Bacon Mac n Cheese for dinner and ALL THREE dogs decide that this is the perfect time to disregard staying out of the kitchen when Mom's cooking and do their best to lick the floor of any errant bacon grease, trip me, demand attention while I'm attempting to do a bazillion things at once cooking-wise, get in the trash (OK only Hurley), get in the recycling (again only Hurley) and I LOST IT.  I yelled.  Loudly. And for once, it wasn't just at Hurley.  It was at all 3 of them.  Repeatedly.  I don't yell that much and extremely rarely at the girls.  But I had had enough - enough not listening to me, enough of Hurley being a complete and utter dick, enough of cleaning up doggie accidents, enough of not being able to cook in my own kitchen in peace.  And I let them know it.

By the time the Hubster got home, all 3 were pretty cowed by Mom's rant and were doing their best to avoid me by hanging out in their kennels.  So cowed that they were barely excited to see Dad (I felt pretty bad about that).

And I hate to say it but Hurley being cowed/remorseful is progress.  This is the puppy who just doesn't give a sh**.  He will jump on the counter in front of me, get in the garbage in front of me, steal food from my plate while I am holding it.  And whether we redirect or reprimand, he is never ever dissuaded from attempting the same thing 5 seconds later.  I hate to yell at him but whatever tone I had in my voice last night finally prompted him to show a little hesitancy about being bad.

And while I felt OK about Hurley and I coming to some sort of an understanding, I feel awful about yelling at the girls.  After we ate and settled down in front of the TV, I discovered some discharge from Maggie's woman parts (read:  Urinary Tract Infection) and a hot spot on Sadie's belly.  Poor girls.  They weren't feeling well and I took out what was mostly frustration at Hurley on them. 

Raising a puppy is hard work.  I'm glad this blog will be here next time we think about getting a new dog.  Future Sarah: Adopt an Elderdog!


  1. I can tell you that we all have those days- patience is not my thing. Hence the name of my blog. Not sure what your budget looks like, but the miracle cure for Hurley would be a Manners Minder. It really is incredible how quickly you see problem behaviors fade away.

    I can't afford one, so I used my own version when Skye was still insane. Any time a customer came in, she got a puzzle toy with her kibble in it. I'd put her whole day's worth of food in a couple puzzle toys. I found it increased her focus and respect, and she started taking a customer as her cue to earn some food. Either way, I'd start making Hurley earn his food during the day- it helps a whole lot!

  2. I like Of Pit Bulls idea. Never really thought of that.

    Was just going to say, been there.

    My dog Zappa, barks non-stop about everything. A whiny, high pitched, sharp bark that I haven't figured out yet how to stop when I always somewhere on the other side of the house. I've learned to ignore it (OK, not the best technique) but when there's a huge uproar, I yell. It seems to be the only thing that shuts him up.

    For a few minutes, anyways.

    Hope you have a better day tomorrow! :)

  3. Ohhh, the barking. I feel you on that. There are times when I just want to strangle Bilbo for his attention barking. Sigh.

  4. Take comfort in knowing that you are not the only one who has "melt down days". I would be ashamed to let people see the way I react sometimes. Hope the girls feel better soon.

  5. Thanks everyone for your supportive words. It helps knowing I am not alone at having these kinds of moments/day. Thanks Of Pitbulls for your great suggestion - we are putting it into practice today!

  6. definitely been there myself--particularly in the car, where desmond whines and goes nuts every time we hit the brake pedal or turn on the blinkers. fun stuff!

  7. Agree about the Manners Minder suggestion. I can't afford one either but I have been witness to how they work miracles. The timing is just so much better than I could ever achieve. I wish they would develop a collar version that is more portable.

    We've all been there. Cut yourself some slack. It may not have been your best moment but you'll rally and the dogs have probably already forgotten all about it!