so much to be thankful for

We had such a great trip. Tala especially had the time of her life. She loves the car - no, that's not quite it, she's obsessed with the car. This is the only dog I've ever seen who loves to leave the dog park, because it means more car time! This trip included two trips of more than 10 hours each, plus several shorter drives. Tala heaven.

She still barks furiously at every passing car on the highway, but on longer trips, she'll give up and lie down for long stretches of time, before popping up and resuming her game. We have some sedatives - only the second time we've ever used them for her - but even with the drugs, the first hour or three is solid barking. We've done extensive training to try and correct this, but after working for weeks to see a microscopically small improvement on training trips - only to see that gain wiped out in the first 30 seconds of normal car travel - we gave up. Hey, no one's perfect, not even Tala.

In addition to her mega car time, Tala had three trips to a dog park near my mom's place (hooray for the internet), ran after a football being tossed around in a backyard, and soaked up tons of attention as the only dog among a whole lot of dog lovers.

Our mini-vacation was perhaps less exciting than Tala's, but great nonetheless. Because she was with us, we didn't go into New York City at all, so we missed seeing some friends. But my great friend NN came to New Jersey for breakfast, and Allan and I spent much more time relaxing than we usually do, which was very welcome. We had our usual two Thanksgiving celebrations - one at a restaurant with great food and wine, and the other a big casual gathering full of yummy, home-cooked, organic food.

I know I say this every year, but say it I must. When you grow up in not the happiest of families, holidays and family gatherings are nothing to look forward to. As you may know from your own experience, whatever crap your family goes through only gets worse. As a child and young adult, my holidays were occasions of stress, anxiety and fear. But now our family gatherings are pure fun and love and joy. My standard line: "Death and divorce? You say that like it's a bad thing!"

And every year, our US Thanksgiving ends with one great joy: coming home to Canada.

I have two details to share from our drive home - one complaint and one recommendation. Next post.


johngoldfine said...

Some things simply can't be mitigated very much--I can call my guys off most things, but the smell of a fox is far more potent than anything I have ever said or done or ever will.

I've tried a lot of things with barking and have had some success--not with preventing it from starting, but with bringing to a quick end.

This is going to sound ridiculous, but here goes: I walk onto the porch where they've just seen someone walk by or a UPS truck pull up. All five are barking their heads off (number six is deaf and not interested in such stuff anyway.) At first I don't say a word; instead I take a second to look at what they are looking at.

I think they are relieved that they have my attention because they begin to slow down and several of them glance away from the It and look at me. Then I say, very very softly, "Thank you. I appreciate your bringing this problem to my attention, but I don't think we need to pursue it further. Okay? Awright? That's right, good dogs. Thanks again for letting me know."

By now they have all shut up and are looking at me, glad to have the excitement over with. If there's a reflexive stray bark at this point, I'll turn to the evildoer and grunt, still very softly, 'Unh." And the sinner looks guilty and settles down.

laura k said...

That sounds great! Terrific, I love it.

This is only in the car, and generally a trip is no further than the dog park or the vet, 10-15 minutes away. Even a day hike is only an hour or so away. If we adopt another dog (highly likely!), Tala will never come to NJ again.

We worked SO hard on the training - at first just sitting in the car on the driveway, then driving slooowly around the neighbourhood while I gave her quiet command and treats for being quiet. On and on and on. But there I was, crunching myself into the hatchback feeding Tala roast beef, and the dog would rather bark than eat roast beef! The last straw was the trip I ended up with sardines all over me, even in my hair.

Like I said, no one's perfect!

laura k said...

Old post on Tala training. If anyone reads that, note that she is great on-leash now - walks like a dream. Only the car craziness remains.

Amy said...

I cannot imagine listening to the barking for all those hours. How do you tolerate it? Can you talk over it? Hear the radio? Take Advil?

So glad you had a great time with your family! We did also. Yes, the absence of certain family members can make a huge difference!

laura k said...

Well, she's in the hatchback, with the back seat (where Cody used to be :( ) between us. But when she's in full-on bark mode, we can't talk or listen to music.

On the way down to NJ, did listen to lots of music (NOT radio, ever!!) and talk a lot, so I guess she was quiet for more than half the trip. But that was from the sedative. On short drives, no talking, no music - only Tala barking.

I guess we're used to it!

laura k said...

Very glad you had a good Thanksgiving, too. I saw your lovely pics on FB.

Amy said...

Thanks, Laura!

You guys are very tolerant. I cannot stand that kind of noise. Zapper used to bark whenever anyone came to the door for ten minutes, and it drove me crazy!

On a totally unrelated note, retired Justice Stevens from the USSCt was on 60 Minutes and just gave eye witness testimony to seeing Babe Ruth's legendary call of the HR to center field at Wrigley in 1932.

laura k said...

I don't know if we're tolerant so much as resigned. What choice do we have?

While we were lost, first thing in the morning, the barking wasn't helping the stress level. But in general, it's just there.

Amy said...

I am not sure what choice I would make, probably more sedatives! They work for me on planes, so why not for the dog in a car. :) You are right---we all have things we accept and things we just somehow cannot. Noise makes me crazy.

laura k said...

We can only use the sedatives on long trips. As the vet said, it's not a solution, it's a survival technique.

Tala is such a good dog. This is her only flaw, AFAIC. That's partly why it's not too difficult to put up with. Plus she spends most of her life not in a car. :)

Amy said...

Oh, I am not suggesting that Tala isn't worth every second---just feeling for you guys having to listen to all the barking!

laura k said...

I know that. :)

We have dealt with many issues from many dogs. This seems relatively minor to me.