So - our barkiest of dogs, it has come to our attention, has taken up the sport of extreme, non-stop barking both when we are at home and away. This was recently confirmed by a number of our neighbors after a couple of lengthy absences from home.
Don't get me wrong - she knows how much we disapprove of her excess barking. She has simply shortcut the punishment process by running and hiding directly in her "I've been bad" place (under the bed in my office) when we let her in, completely eliminating the middle man and rendering us sad, ineffective and powerless in the eyes of the other animals in the house.
Dramatic steps were required. So we purchased - a citronella collar.
Have you seen these? The battery-powered unit on the collar has a built-in microphone and when the dog barks, it emits a fine mist of harmless citronella. It doesn't hurt the dog, but with their keen sense of smell, such a sudden burst of scent is alarming. They soon begin to associate the action with the unpleasant event. thereby curtailing the negative behavior.
This is an add-on to the collar Patsy already wears that delivers a mild shock should she approach too close to the fenced perimeter of the yard, because she was apparently a famous criminal escape artist in a previous life and can find the smallest weakness in a fenced area and can breach it in a matter of seconds in her ongoing quest for freedom.
I can picture her years from now. Wearing 17 different collars providing a wide variety of behavioral modifications.
She will no longer have to walk. She will simply hover around the yard on the cloud of soft, purple radiation cushioning her from the ground as a result of all the batteries and power sources attached to her.
But I digress.
Today, we launched the citronella collar with little fanfare, mostly because I was afraid of setting it off. I'm a little nervous and shaky these days thanks to the recent deployment of a half dozen mousetraps around the kitchen and pantry. I'm a tough enough guy but those things really hurt - and I shriek like a girl and throw them across the room when they snap shut unexpectedly. Not a pretty or dignified sight.
The tally so far is 3 dead mice, one found soaked in dog saliva and very much played with - still in the trap - halfway up the stairs. Two traps were cleverly eaten from by the targets without a capture taking place and Patsy tried to eat the cheese off of a sixth trap, giving her quite the little snackie surprise of her life, I can tell you.
I let the dogs out for the afternoon, having tested the new collar by blowing on the little microphone at a distance of about five inches - causing it to emit a lovely and aromatic cloud of citronella.
I'm actually thinking of getting myself about five of these collars to wear during the summer - one on the neck, and one each on each ankle and wrist. Just imagine - any time I spot a mosquito - all I'd have to do is make a sudden noise, like an elderly person with a Clapper or a Tourettes sufferer. It'd be all like me yelling "F*ck! C*nt!!" and end up surrounded by a fine mist of anti-mosquito protection.
You see - if mosquitoes had little highways and little cars for taking mosquito family car trips, along those little highways would be billboards saying "Eat here- 3 blocks!!" with a picture of me on it. I went camping in Canada once with my family and woke up with a miniature Tim Horton's drive thru on my ass. This is serious.
I am convinced that the only reason I am still standing and not a victim of Malaria, Dengue Fever and West Nile is that I possess a super antibody based on four decades of mosquito attacks fortified with enough residual Russian vodka residue to stun a rhino.
So our little experiment began. I went back to my office, listening for the effects of the collar to be audible.
For hours - I heard nothing. Zip. Nada. Not a single yip.
I looked out occasionally - no dogs or children walking by - it's Spring Break here, after all. Everyone is on vacation.
And then - I heard it.
"Yap, Yap, Yap, Yap, Yap, Yap, Yap, Yap, Yap, Yap, Yap, Yap, Yap, Yap, Yap, Yap, Yap, Yap!!!"
She was barking - without hesitation or interruption.
Damn it! I felt cheated and aggravated. I called the dogs into the house.
I removed the collars and threw the shock collar down on the shelf of the Hoosier in the sun room.
I studied the new citronella collar closely - what the hell had gone wrong?
The module contained an on/off switch - currently switched to "off".
I laughed at my ineptitude and as I turned the switch to "ON"...
Let me tell you something here and now. Between today and somewhere in mid-August - I need never fear a mosquito bite in the region beginning from my chin, moving up my face, into my nostrils and around to my ears, as well as into my hairline and beyond.
Because it will take until then to wash/rinse/wear away the citronella that is EMBEDDED in my face, mouth, nostrils, hair and scalp.
Jesus - I nearly asphyxiated. It took about five minutes, two Diet Pepsis and a leftover cold espresso chaser just to reinstate normal breathing.
And I know Patsy was laughing at me.
As she was punishing herself in her "I've been bad" place upstairs, I could hear a distinct chortling sound.