Tuesday, March 4, 2008

29. Shocking Confession

It doesn't sound as though Matt will be getting to work from home afterall. Apparently they're thinking of moving him to another building to support the executives, for which he would need to be present.

This possibility could destroy my summer. I find I am left with very few options in regards to Frank.

Dayboarding. As my boarding kennel is no longer accepting clients, and doesn't sound like they ever will be again, I would have to take him somewhere else. I've checked into boarding facilities all of the city, and all of them run $25-30 a day. A DAY! The low end of the scale would cost about $500 a month. Matt would not be able to quit his pizza delivery job because my dog's boarding would cost almost as much as it would for me to own a horse and board it. Not quite...but almost. Worse, the only ones who allow early morning drop off before 7am charge an extra fee. So boarding can either cost me more than $500 a month, or I can alter my work schedule to rush hour times, costing me just as much or more in parking, and adding an additional 2 hours commute to my day.

Debark my dog, so he can finally be crated at home. I find this option to be neither humane nor nor pleasant for either of us. But it would stop his barking immediately. It might even be cheaper than boarding him all summer, I don't know. It's a risky procedure in which a dog may regain the use of his bark after several years, or could choke to death on scar tissue that builds up over time. While it stops the sound of the bark, the dog still tries, making a sound much like Jabba the Hut would if he contracted emphyzema.

Hire a trainer. This is the weakest of my options. Expensive, at around $100-120 an hour. Not guaranteed to work. Time consuming. Further, I've done extensive research on techniques, and have tried to desensitive Frank myself. My dog is a stubborn and disrespectful little beastie. My attempts to correct the issue myself, using the same techniques that an overpriced trainer would have failed. I feel that I am an experienced dog owner, and while a trainer would certainly be more efficient, I sincerely doubt they'll be trying anything I haven't already. I don't have time for this.

Find Frank a new home. I am clearly in possession of an animal who needs a lifestyle I cannot provide to be happy. The best situation for him would be one in which he had a large yard or property to run and chase things on, and an owner who was home most of the time.
I love my dog, and I'll die before I give him up.

Purchase a corrective training device, such as a shock collar. I have tried these before on Ein, and found them to be inhumane and traumatizing. But Frank is strong willed, and I have run out of options. So I did, on Friday. The shock scares him to pieces, and I feel terrible because it looks like it hurts. But it's working. He started to get the idea after a few shocks. I have never seen him so quiet in the car. He is panic-stricken and confused, but he's quiet.
This could be the answer...

The first collar of the weekend was working perfectly, until it quit correcting him at all on the second day. After looking up reviews, Matt determined I bought a bad brand/model/whatever, and that other people complained of the same. Sunday we went back to Petsmart and exchanged for a cheaper, but supposedly better quality collar. It's battery operated rather than rechargeable, and the battery life is supposed to be 3-6 months. It has a harder plastic band instead of flexible mesh, which I doubt is terribly comfortable, but appears to keep the collar from sliding around to the side where it can't read his vocal vibrations.

It's been 2 really successful days, and I'm starting to hope. I bought a tape recorder and plan to test him crated at home alone for short periods, leading up to a few hours over the weekend. If this works, I could be crating Frank at home while I go to work as early as next week.
Like a regular person, with a regular dog...

I didn't believe this was a valid option before, but it turns out I may have been wrong. He's responding to the corrections, he's learning to keep calm, and I for the first time in 2 years, I may be able to leave my house and not have to worry what I'm going to do with Frank.

I don't dare hold my breath for fear of disappointment, but it's working...


Janieac said...

It's the most humane, logical, and reasonable of all the options. I'll keep my fingers crossed that the little Frank-dog continues to do well.

meg's thoughts return said...

I hope this works! When Steve and I were talking about getting a bulldog (which has been delayed a year) he bought about 5 books on dog owning in apartments/condos. Almost all of them suggested the shock collar for barking issues. I've also heard, but will have to do some digging for specifics, of devices you can install in your home that produce a shrill high pitched noise when dogs bark. This may prove less effective than the more direct approach you're taking.

Good luck my dear!