The Enforcer

We have three dogs at home.

Hondo the police dog, Storm the Chesapeake Bay Retriever, and Rigsy the German Wirehaired Pointer.

Both Storm and Rigsy are spayed females, and all three dogs get along wonderfully, despite the fact their personalities are so very different.

I’m sure by now you’ve got a feel for what Hondo is like – big, strong, loyal, occasionally goofy and often pig-headed.

Storm is sweet and affectionate, with a killer drive that has proven her worth in the duck blind.  She would spend the day in your lap or in your pocket if she were small enough, but her 60 lb frame does not allow for such frivolity.

Rigsy is another story.  She is as high strung as pointers come, and even though she is an excellent game bird dog, she has been likened to a dog on crack cocaine.  She is in constant motion, she has a nervous twitch, and she emits singular barks at weird moments for seemingly no reason.

It is her habit of barking at the end of the day that has caused Hondo to switch into work mode at home.

For starters, I cannot stand a barking dog, unless of course, the dog is barking for a very good reason.  Such reasons include:

  • an intruder breaking into the house
  • an intruder in the back yard
  • a threat to safety
  • or because the dog is thrilled to bits to see you (and even then, only a couple of barks, please)

The mailman depositing letters through the mail slot does not constitute a life and death situation.  Nor does when a neighbour knocks at the door.  There is a time for barking, and a time for being quiet.

Rigsy has only begun to figure this out.  In our home routine, all three dogs spend the later part of the day underfoot inside the house. They are an integral part of the family and are treated as such.  When it is time for bed, all three dogs are ushered to the door to be put up in their insulated dog houses.

About a year ago, whenever the back door opened, the three dogs would race outside. Rigsy was the worst.  Her lean frame would be the first out the door, and as she streaked across the backyard she would let loose with a volley of barks at who-knows-what. It drove me crazy, particularly because it was a new behaviour ( to take a step back here – our vet thinks poor Rigsy may be going senile).

If I told her, “No barking, Rigsy,” right before I opened the door she would listen.  But on a few occasions she would tear out of the door and bark her fool head off.

That’s when Hondo figured it out.  If Mom said, “No barking,” that meant no barking (if he listened as well all the time…).  He started cutting Rigsy off at the pass and pushing her into the railing with a warning growl if she so much as let out a yip.

Go figure.

Now our routine is far more calm.  We walk to the back door.  All the dogs sit.  When we open the door, Storm is let out first and she saunters out to the grass.  Rigsy is second.  She still darts through the threshold, but now it’s with a backwards glance at Hondo before she silently bee-lines it for the dog house. 

And then Hondo.  He makes sure Rigsy the trouble maker is tucked in for the night before sniffing noses and sharing a tail-wag with Storm.  Then he makes a couple of laps around the yard before waiting at his kennel door.

The peace and quiet is wonderful.

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