Wednesday, May 12, 2010
(From the spot the photo was taken just past the mailbox was the route Abby took when she was chasing a squirrel as described in this passage.)
“This is going to hurt me more than it hurts you.” Was there ever a trite overused expression more annoying than that especially when said by your parents right before they were about to administer a spanking to you? In the times one of my parents said this to me, one of the first things to cross my mind was “Sure, let me have the switch, and I’ll beat your ass instead.” Of course this cliché was a hollow meaningless expression to me until I had to dole out discipline to Abby when she was a puppy. I should say now that I am single and have no children. Abby and Andy are the closest things to children I have. Yes, I know they are dogs, and in the end, children count for a whole lot more than a dog does, but nonetheless, I love the babies.
One day I was doing some yard work in the front. The front yard is not fenced in. The part of the yard I was working in was around 100 feet from the street, maybe more. Even though the yard was not enclosed and Abby was not leashed, I thought it would not be a problem for her to hang around me while I piddled around the front doing a few chores. While I was removing some steps in the front at the top of the hill, I caught Abby in the corner of my eye making a bee-line straight towards the street chasing a squirrel trying to make an escape from me and Abby. Immediately, I yelled at the top of my lungs “Abby, Abby, stop, stop.” She halted and made a U-turn but not until she had actually made it to the pavement. I kept yelling at her. She was so scared that she ran from me around the house and to the back yard. Before I made my way to her, my mom knew something wasn’t right with her. She could tell by Abby’s demeanor that something wasn’t right. Also, Abby had gone on the stoop by the patio. Whenever Abby sat on the stoop like that, something was wrong. It meant she was either scared or mad. For example, when she was young, I put her in the pool one time in an attempt to make her swim. My effort failed and only made her mad at me. She almost instaneously jumped out of the pool and ran straight to the stoop. I can’t begin to describe the ugly look she gave me that day, but suffice it to say that if looks could kill, I would have been dead that day. And so there she was on that stoop waiting for me to get her.
As I rounded the corner, my mom quickly asked me what was wrong. She could tell Abby was scared. I would explain to her what Abby had done. In the mean time, I had to whip Abby’s ass. My mom hated it when I did that which I found this odd. In my childhood days, she was quick to meet out punishments, deserved or not. On this day, she would not talk me out of spanking Abby. My spanks involved hitting Abby on the base of her tail or on her rump and was accompanied by a harsh reprimand. I hated doing it, but I could not have Abby running unfettered into the street. She had to know her boundaries. One thing I’ve noticed about disciplining a dog is that the most effective way to teach them is to catch them red-handed. The more closely associated the negative feedback was to the infraction the more likely the dog would learn from its bad behavior.
Some can say that I was at fault for letting Abby unleashed in an unenclosed area like that. True, I do take some blame for that. Had a car hit Abby that day, I would have felt awfully and had considerable guilt on my shoulders ever since. However, Abby made it through that unscathed, but I had to teach her about where it was acceptable for her to go. Abby learned her lesson. For a dozen years after, Abby spent many days playing in the front yard and without a leash on her. Never again would she run in the street. She had a few close calls, but she learned her lesson. I hated being the ‘bad guy’ but had I not spanked her on that day for her running in the street, she may have ended up killed by passing car. She wouldn’t hate me for my disciplining her. She didn’t hold grudges like that, fortunately for me.