Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Electro Shock Therapy

Well, I've crossed the threshold from casual animal abuse (breakfast was an hour late the other morning; on Saturday the dogs didn't even get walked once) into the serious, professional kind. Yesterday we got a bark collar: those lovely things that stick two prongs into your dogs neck and shock him when he barks. Immediately after A went to get the bark collar, UPS showed up with the scat mats: thin plastic electrified mats that shock you and/or your dog when touched. I set all these scary things on the lowest possible setting (quaintly, for the scat mat, that setting is referred to as "Kitten") and can attest to the fact that they hurt. Although it's hard to get the collar to work - even when you strap it around your thigh and hold your leg up by your head and bark at it hard. So now we have technological firepower. It's working very well, as is evident from the fact that this morning I came into the living room to find Jackson sitting up on one arm of the couch, barking at the scat mat on the couch proper, while his collar, which had fallen off, languished by the fireplace.

There are several problems with the bark collar. The first and most obvious one is that A and I are softhearted wimps and feel bad about putting it on Jackson. Note, however, that when he started barking up the chimney this morning at 6:45 I was able to put it on him with no moral qualms whatsoever and in fact did it without my glasses on. Unfortunately, there's another, real problem: Theo barking sets it off. This was not entirely unforeseen but proves to be worse in every way than I thought it would. Theo doesn't get stuck barking the way Jackson does, but if any animal comes near the house and he notices it, he barks for a long time. Meanwhile, Jackson next to him is freaking out in undeserved pain. That's pretty bad. It is, in fact, really bad. It's the kind of thing that sends me into an emotional, moral and even physical tailspin. So I rush to take off the collar and I feel horribly guilty and I give Jackson some cheese, which doesn't really assuage my guilt, but does sort of.

Interestingly enough, the collar has proven that Jackson is not stupid. He had one on him when I found him 6 months ago. I got rid of it immediately (well, actually, I just took it off him and M promptly sold gave it to a friend of his since shock collars are one of those things that 14 year old boys like, best not to ask) but Jackson very clearly remembers it. He shuts up when it goes on and looks at us with horror. More guilt. A is all upset. So am I - but then I'm also upset about trying to clean an inch and a half of soot off every fucking surface in the living room because of that insane, obsessive-compulsive dog. I'm wondering now if there are drugs I can give him - and also thinking, whoa, I am really a child of 21st century America. Faced with a problem? Try technology! Not satisfactory? Try medication! Yeah.

No comments: