by Christine Kling
Like the Beatles said:
Help, I need somebody,
Help, not just anybody,
Help, you know I need someone, help!
Back in May, feeling desperately sad over the loss of my dear geriatric partner, Chip, the Intrepid Seadog, I began searching the doggie rescue sites, and I found that little face in the photo above. Doesn’t he look cute? Yeah, he is adorable, and he works his way into your heart with his warm sleepy puppy act in the morning. You decide that he is absolutely the sweetest little guy in the world. Then, guess what? The next thing you know he is chewing up the boat’s woodwork and foam cushions, and he is walking across the galley countertops headed for the dinner on the stove. There are days when I think of the movie The Exorcist and I expect his little puppy head to spin on his neck. I have adopted Barney, the Yorkshire Terror!
Where is Cesar Milan when you need him?
This little guy is 11 pounds of alpha, bow-legged, leader-of-the-pack machismo one minute, and the next minute he’s rolling over on his back playing like the most submissive little doggie in the world.
I can’t figure him out.
When I found out the rescue foster mom had given him the name Barney, I thought it fit. I thought of Barney Rubble from the Flintstones. Now I know his name should be Barney Trouble.
Yeah, I know, I’ve left him several times in the first 8 months we’ve been together. But my son and I have this deal we call “shared custody.” Tim often texts me and askes if Barney can sleep over. He is a family dog. Granted, Tim is not the least bit interested in discipline, and when I returned from my trip to SE Asia, I found that “my boys” had been living the “No Rules” life.
Silly me, I figured I could whip my little guy back into shape in no time.
Last spring when I took Barney to a vet in Marsh Harbor in the Abacos, the vet there remarked that the little guy, then only 9 months old, was very stubborn. I said something like, “Yeah, but hopefully he will grow out of that.” The Bahamian vet laughed, then said something that continues to haunt me. He said if he is this stubborn at this age, it will probably be his character for the rest of his life. At the time, I was skeptical, but I’m becoming a believer.
Lately, at night, as soon as I turn out all the lights and climb into the V-berth, Barney goes nuts. There are lots of outside lights here from the dock lights to the neighboring boats to the moon. As the boat moves around in the slip, the lights move. Barney goes on full alert and starts digging at the woodwork trying to get at what is moving. For the last week, the only way I could get him to go to sleep was by leaving the overhead lights on in the main salon to drown out the outside lights.
I know I should be taking Barney to some kind of puppy obedience school, but I have a book to write! I have a deadline, and boat work, and I need to do a hundred other things with my money and my time. And besides, I am a DIY kind of gal. Surely there must be something I can do on my own?
So, right now, I am taking him on a super long walk in the mornings down to the beach. I am trying to establish, à la Cesar, that I am the pack leader. And I find that as a writer, I do some of my best daydreaming and plot scheming while staring at the west end of an east-bound dog. But these are particularly breezy days here in Fort Lauderdale and I am walking a barely one-year-old terrier puppy who has not yet figured out that all things that move are not alive. He leaps in avid pursuit of every blowing leaf, paper and twig. I often imagine that some of the older labs and golden retrievers we pass on the street must be shaking their heads at his silliness. And worse yet, he is just as likely to chase a leaf as a garbage truck. He has no clue that one of the two might hurt him. I’m terrified that one day his leash or harness might break as he lunges toward a fast-moving vehicle.
And then, every time we meet a jogger or a mom pushing a stroller, Barney either strains at his leash to intercept that person or he stops, hunkers down belly to the pavement and eyes them trying to calculate their petting potential. It’s funny how the people always say, “Look, the little puppy’s tired!” Boy, has he got them fooled. He’s not tired – it’s just part of his act to get them to stop and pay attention to him! If they don’t, he barks at them as if he’s yelling at them!
But the thing that makes me craziest right now is the fact that he barks at everyone, human or canine, if they don’t pay attention to him in a way that pleases him. I worry that he is going to incite some bigger dog to react like a normal dog – and tear his head off. Around here, there are way more big dogs than little dogs. So, the last few days, I’ve been taking him to the local dog park to try to socialize him. In the little dog area, he is fine and he just rolls over like a submissive sweetie and tries to make friends, letting everyone smell him. Okay, so then I took him into the big dog area and he wound up in the center of about six giant dogs, all of them barking, and I was afraid he was about to become a snack for them.
Help me if you can, I’m feeling down
And I do appreciate you being round.
Help me, get my feet back on the ground,
Won’t you please, please help me.
I know there are lots of you out there who have dogs and can offer me some advice. What should I be doing to turn Barney, the Yorkshire Terror, into the good little boat dog I want him to be?
ChristineShare on Facebook