Remember Misha The Formerly Shy Dog? She continues to become ever more the quintessential family pet. But she is still very skittish about anyone other than Smokey or I, and she demonstrates that skittishness by barking. And barking. And barking some more.
She does not bark indiscriminately, exactly, only when she perceives an intruder. Sadly, such intruder often seems to be an errant leaf that had the temerity to be blown across the driveway or a squirrel running up a tree in a neighboring county, but if it moves she is On.The.Case.
Bark! Bark! Stranger danger, bark!
The Fed Ex man and the UPS driver and the mail carrier give her fits when they have to deliver a parcel.
Bark! Stranger danger! Bark!
The behavior is certainly due to the terrier part of her genetic makeup, so we do not punish her for it, but Smokey can generally get her to stop by using The Daddy Voice.
If you are not familiar with this concept, let me enlighten you: The Daddy Voice is louder than usual, deeper than usual, sounds very serious, and its auditory quality makes it clear that Daddy will brook no more of [whatever behavior it was that provoked it]. I think I first heard The Daddy Voice when one of our kids was small. Smoke says he developed it working as a nurse in the inpatient teen psych unit, where the typical patient was not so much actively *crazy* but rather overly rebellious, actively antisocial, possibly suicidal, and prone to acting out. He eschews repeated escalating warnings and finds that using The Daddy Voice to say Stop! just once works much better. Being an estrogenically inclined human rather than the deeper-voiced testosterone-producing kind, my vocal skills are unable to achieve a successful Daddy Voice despite repeated attempts.
I was sound asleep one morning last week when Misha woke me up with prolonged barking. Apparently Smokey and his helper were towing a van out of the pole barn to a spot where Lennie* could hitch it to his tow truck and take it away.
Bark! Stranger danger, bark! Bark!
I came out to see what was going on and to attempt to quiet her. Because I was not really awake yet, any attempt at rational discipline was not within my abilities at that moment. I said Misha… in that disappointed voice that one uses when the title of this post is being invoked.
She came slinking up the stairs, tail down, looking completely ashamed of herself.
Picture the expression of the dog on the left on Misha’s face, right.
Score one for me!
Will this new approach work again? I doubt it, but stay tuned…
* Henceforth to be known as Lennie The Saint[ly Mechanic]. Besides the incredibly low-cost auto repairs that his business does, he has saved my personal bacon more than once. There was the time when I had a flat tire twice within a week. Smokey was gone the second time, and a Lennie sent one of his mechanics to change it for me. (Yes, I am officially a wimp about changing a tire. Never changed one in my life, and I intend to keep it that was. Lots of things I will attack, but changing a tire ain’t one of them. Tire-changing virgin, that’s me.) And there was the time my friend Colleen backed up and got the fender of her Jeep hooked over a low stone wall , completely invisible from the driver’s seat because it was so low, and he came personally to tow the car off its unfortunate perch… and didn’t even charge her. He said later that it looked like she had already had a bad enough day that he didn’t have the heart to make it worse. I could on, but I won’t. Just know that there is an honest and saintly mechanic in my neck of the woods.