06-1234MACK

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My dog has a cellphone. Well sort of.

Mighty” Mack, son of champion bullmastiff, “Mickey Good and Gentle” of Heck Tree had morphed into the scary dog of the neighborhood and become quite the millstone around my neck. He obviously didn’t inherit his sire’s on-street disposition. Around the house, Mack is a sweet, goofy dawg, whose biggest crimes are badly timed farts and snoring. Once out the front door, he morphs into a Jersey Shore type macho, growling, lurching at other dogs and giving almighty woofs, attempting to dislocate my shoulder on a regular basis by pulling me through the street, acting for all intents and purposes deaf to any and all commands to behave and frightening the neighbors.

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 Mack’s dad– (image found on Google)

The flu benched me from dog training class a few weeks ago, so I phoned the trainer to organize an individual class for us so we didn’t fall too far behind. Mack also behaves well in the pack at dog training and while I had Kim, the trainer on the phone, I outlined my concerns about the on-street situation.

Kim said, “Veronica, it is time to admit your dog is stronger than you are. Let’s talk about the electric collar.”

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I have been resisting the electric collar for 18 months. I should be able to control my dog with the sheer force of my personality, right? Besides, growing up in (then) rural Bucks County, I’d grabbed an electric fence wire on a dare and walked around a bit googly for a few hours afterward. There was no way I was going to use something like that to train my dawg. I told Kim I’d consider it.

When we got to the training center, Kim pulled out a tiny black box on a collar and told me to hold out my hand. He showed me the transmitter in his other hand, and pushed a button when I’d closed my fist around the black box. The black box I was holding vibrated like a cellphone. “We call that “the pager”. This is what you use when Mack ignores your commands.” He pressed another button on the transmitter, which he calls the “naughty” button and I felt a tingly static shock much like I experienced in electro-muscular therapy at the physio last year, when I’d injured my knee. Weird, but not painful or too unpleasant. Nothing like the electric fence incident. “That is what you use if he doesn’t listen after two commands.”

We spent an hour re-training the basic commands of “here”, “sit”, “stay” and “down” with the collar and with minimal use of the pager, he was performing his tasks with alacrity. I was convinced.

It’s been 5 days now, and I’ve only had to use the “naughty” button once: to disrupt a brewing altercation between Mack and another large dog (who’d started it) at yesterday’s training session. More importantly, we can walk our neighborhood streets and the country lanes without fear of confrontation with other dogs and without me carping at him to “behave” the whole time. Walking is fun again. On Friday we ran into neighbor and her Rottweiler, Bink. Normally we’d give each other a wide berth but Friday morning we had a neighborly chat and the dogs (both machos) sat quietly at our feet. My neighbor was amazed at how well Mack behaved. I pulled the transmitter out of my pocket and told her, “We communicate by cellphone these days.”

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Excellent Walking Tune!

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