Sunday, December 6, 2009


It began with a fight.  Boo lunged at Bear and the comically horrible sound of two 20 pound dogs in full fight mode filled the house.  I say comically horrible because well they're little and horrible is the sound they make in sends shivers up and down my spine.  This is not a regular occurance, but still it happens with no clue what sets them off.  However this time was different.  When we pulled them apart there was blood.  Blood was dripping down from Bear's right eye.  Boo had taken a divet out of the lower lid.  The vet was closed and so we rushed him to the ER vet.  Thankfully no damage to they eye itself, just the lid.  He'd have a scar to match the other one he got from Boo when a stupid vet technican put the two of them together in a cage when they were puppies.  Bear had to wear the cone of shame for 2 weeks and take antibiotics.  I was out a couple hundred dollars.  But he was safe and sound...this time.

So the agonizing decisions began.  What to do with Boo.  Bear wasn't the instigator, Boo was.  We couldn't have this anymore.  For 3 years since I moved back in with my parents the boys have barked at anyone that came in the door.  Lhasas were bred to be guard dogs in palaces and lamasaries in Tibet, but I'm sure the royals and the monks had visitors.

We were down to our last chance...Boo was down to his last chance..if we didn't find something he'd have to go to a new home and it was tearing my heart up to think of it.  A friend at work had told me of a company called Bark Busters.  They come to the home, work with your dogs, and they will do it for the life of the dog.  It wasn't cheap, but I wanted to give Boo this shot.

I contacted Bark busters and got an e-mail from Jenny - the behaviorist for the Vancouver area.  She said she thought she knew what the problem was and could I call her.  No obligation.  I did.  She began to ask questions no trainer (and I'd been to several) had ever asked.  I started to think that maybe, just maybe she could help.

She came over yesterday.  The doorbell rang.  The dogs went ballistic.  While holding on to Boo Mom was able to open the door and let Jenny in.  I held on to Bear.  She watched as two grown women tried to get control over two 20 pound fur balls.  Then she placed her metal brief case on the floor, took her keys from her pocket and dropped them onto the briefcase exclaiming "BAH!"  The boys shut up.  Bear jumped behind me, Boo wasn't going to take this lying down so he barked again.  Again the keys, again the bang, again the BAH.  He was done.  "Good dog." she said sweetly.  And so began our day.

The problem was we didn't speak dog. She explained to us.  And we needed to learn it.  Boo thought he had to be head of the pack.  Everything he was doing was because he thought he had to do it.  The  nips and the fights with Bear, he was thinking Bear was out of line.  Not following the pack.  Once we showed Boo that WE were in fact Pack leaders he seemed to change before our eyes.  Jenny went outside for about 10 minutes and then rang the doorbell.  No bark!  Nothing!  In fact the mean little furballs were letting her pet them and give them treats!  We went for a walk.  A man on his roof (don't ask) shouted down Hi.  Old Boo would have lunged and barked.  New Boo...not a pip.

I had seen dog training shows before - Me or the Dog, The dog whisperer (which I loath) and I always scoffed at how the dogs reacted with the hosts.  It couldn't be that fast, it couldn't be that easy.  That fast, yes.  That  We're going to need to work with Boo and Bear daily to instill into them that we are the pack leaders.  We can't let up.  But today we have two different dogs.  We rang the door bell.  Boo started to Bark - Mom Bah'd.  Boo stopped and went back into the family room and sat down.  I rang the doorbell again.  A little bark, BAH. bark.

We have two very sweet and lovable puppies and it looks like we're going to be able to keep both our sweet and lovable puppies.  Jenny will be coming back out in a few weeks to check on things.  If we ever have an issue we call her and she'll be right there. 

The training lasted well into the time for the Vancouver Writer's Mixer though so I was forced to miss it and the, no doubt, wonderful talk by Carolyn Rose  my beloved writing teacher.  But I think she'd understand.  I missed her talk, but I saved Boo from having to go to a new family...well Jenny did... but I'll keep at it so that Boo can heave a sigh of relief and let the burden of leading the pack fall to the furless two leggers now.


  1. Hi Ax. Thanks for stopping by my blog, Vox Capita. Who are you on Twitter. Tweet me and let me know @barbaramaller. Your dogs sound very much like mine except mine are toy poodles.

  2. Congrats on a successful result with your two dogs. I struggled with a seriously aggressive 70 lb dog (lab mix)who bit two different people, but was the love of my life. After consulting a trainer, 2 vets, and a dog behaviorist, I eventually had her put down. It was one of the top three most painful experiences of my life.
    I joke about my 20 lb terrier Harley, but he is really a pretty well-behaved dog. So glad to know these training techniques worked for you and yours.

  3. Fabulous story. I cannot believe it worked, and like *snap* that. Great.

    Missed you at the Writer's Mixer, though. Carolyn asked about you.

  4. It worked that fast?! Hmm... My Akita goes insane every time a delivery or mail truck drives by (funny thing is they stop she never says a word). If the doorbell rings, she barks like a maniac and is on edge for hours afterwards.

    Contrastly, we can take her out for a walk and she'll never woof at anyone or anything, unless someone violates her bubble.


  5. I just took the quiz on the website for my pup...she scored a 62 out of 200. C+? :)

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