Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Dog Whisperer

One of our neighbors has a vicious little Jack Russell terrier. I know what you're thinking: "I can imagine a bad-tempered Jack Russell. But vicious? Nope. They're too cute and wee to be vicious."

Pooch is vicious. The first time we looked at our new house Pooch's owner L. invited us in. She had to put Pooch into a kennel because the dog got livid, and began snarling and clawing at the floor in an effort to leap up and eat my nose. Because the cacaphony was preventing conversation, L. turned the kennel to face a blank wall. It shook and occasionally bounced as Pooch flung herself back and forth in fury. Cha asked if the Tasmanian Devil was inside.

L. bought blinds for her front windows because Pooch becomes insensate with incandescent rage when she sees passersby. The blinds, a day later, were still hanging in the windows, but Pooch had clawed gigantic holes in them. When you walk past L.'s house you see a trail torn in her blind, and suddenly a demonic batlike face will leap up into the gap, biting at the glass and yowling. I was talking to J. Sunday evening out front and Pooch was frantically jumping and nibbling. L. had locked herself out of the house and the Pop-a-Lock guy was refusing to open the door. "That muthafuckin' piranha is going to tear out my eye!" J. was appalled by the dog's face each time it leapt up and bit furiously at the glass: "That is some vampire looking beast!" When L. drives her car you can see Pooch leaping crazily at pedestrians, bouncing off the interior of the car's windows.

A couple days ago L. was on her stoop and I stopped to chat. Pooch was wagging her tail and leaning against her harness and leash to get at me. I thought: perhaps doggie is making nice? I cautiously approached. I put my hand low down and slowly went forward. I spoke endearing doggie talk. Pooch wagged furiously and got into a playful bowing stance. And once I was within reach she lunged at my neck in rage.

Last night L. dropped by to chat. Yo! Adrienne was over. We all went outside and L. was trying to figure out what to do with Pooch while she travels to North Carolina for four days. No kennel will take her. Nobody will dogsit her. Yo! Adrienne was convinced she could turn Pooch, and despite my warnings about Pooch's deceitful conduct, I watched as she went through the entire tail-wagging, bowing routine, only to snap at Yo! Adrienne's juggler at the last second.

And then I got out some chips. And I fed Pooch a chip. And then I let her climb on me to get a chip. And then I let her walk past me on the leash into the house. She sniffed around. Cha had already offered my services as dog watcher for L., without my knowledge. Cha will be away the next two weeks mentoring teachers. She's fearless about leaving me home with killer dogs. But we decided to do an experiment, and L. went to the store, leaving Pooch behind. Yo! Adrienne and I played with Pooch. I made a chew toy out of an old dish rag, and Pooch went crazy for tug of war. Turns out Pooch is just neurotic and lonely. Within minutes we had belly rubbing and all was well.

So: four months into the new place, and we've already rescued one stray and have babysat two dogs. Looks like I'll have Pooch from Thursday until Sunday.


ellen cherry said...

do *not* be fooled. Pooch will lick your face and wag her tail. She will make silly noises while you scratch her belly. You will sit together watching a Netflix video. She will pretend to close her eyes and "sleep." Then, late Friday night, as you lie in bed descending through the 2nd and 3rd phases of sleep, you will feel a strange sensation. Much like a deja vu experience. Something isn't right in the air and you sense it and wake up slightly. You will open your eyes and lift your head just enough to see Pooch near the edge of your bed, standing with her paws lightly on the edge of the sheet: grinning and staring at you as if you're a juicy rat she found behind Mick O'Shea's. Trust me--I haven't slept in 8 years. (she says, as she timidly pets Zoey and whispers "happy birthday [july 9] darling!!")

great party on Sat. your house is SO lovely. i know you will be happy there!

geoff said...

Eeek! I plan to let Pooch kill all the rat she desires. That's how I'll exhaust her and prevent her developing a taste for human flesh. There are plenty of rats in our back alley.

We toured a friend's house one block up from us last night. They bought a shell that had collapsed and totally refurbished it, and it is FANTASTIC. Those houses are more than twice as big as ours, and they have a three-level spiral stair with four skylights at the top--it's like a grand museum or government building. Insane.

But we are very happy with our place--thanks! And thanks for coming and for our awesome Calaca Hon doll.

alicia said...

At the risk of sounding trendy, I am an avid fan of Ceasar (the dog whisperer). His rules are exercise, discipline and affection. It sounds like little Pooch doesn't get a lot of exercise or discipline but probably a lot of affection. And when the dog it that aggressive you can see why she probably doesn't get out that much. But I think if she did get her exercise and if she did get corrected she would be much happier....I know that Chalupa is far from perfect, but I do try to get her over her fear of other dogs. Good luck with Pooch. And watch out for ticks, Chalupa came home with a body full of them from the long weekend (from Sparks, to Abingdon, to Towson, to Federal Hill) she had plenty of chances to pick them up.