This true short story is sure to get a chuckle out of anyone who reads it! Over the years, it has been recounted many times and each and every time this story is told, the people who hear it end up laughing their guts out. Not many stories are able to stir up laughter over and over again like this one does. Read it and enjoy but let me warn you ahead of time, you shouldn’t be drinking anything while you’re reading this story or you may just spit a mouthful onto your computer or tablet and we wouldn’t want that.
Let me begin by making one thing perfectly clear. I DO NOT in any way condone the things that you will hear that my husband did in this story. I’m not proud of him for doing them and I definitely don’t recommend anyone doing what he did under any circumstances. That being said, this story recounts a time when he learned a very painful lesson and I don’t mind sharing his “shocking” experience with you in the spirit of putting a smile on your face and brightening your day just a little.
Now that the formalities are out of the way, enjoy the story but before you read any further, please understand that no animals were hurt in any way during the course of my husband’s craziness.
You should also understand that it was my husband who wrote this story as a way of preserving this story for his future grand children. So, as you read it, keep in mind that it was written from his perspective.
How It All Began
Over the years, I have learned many of life’s lessons. Some were learned the easy way and some, well, not so easy. The younger “me” was similar to most young men. I tackled life head on and with reckless abandon. I had a very clear view of the way things were or at least the way they “should” be. This is the story of a time when my youthful inflated ego led me down the path that resulted in me learning a very PAINFUL lesson.
The year was 1995 and I was 25 years wise. It was the year that the insurance companies decided that I had finally matured enough to be a “responsible driver” and they rewarded me by lowering my monthly premiums. I was also finally old enough to rent a car. This was the same year that I was promoted into my first managerial job as well. I was on fire! Young, confident, virile, and “always right”.
I’m not exactly sure how anyone could have determined that turning 25 meant that a young man had reached a milestone in his level of maturity. Whoever came up with that number probably should have read this story first.
This was also the year that I first experienced the joy of being the not so proud owner of a dog that REALLY liked to bark. Bailey was an energetic two year old yellow Labrador Retriever who had always been a bit nervous when it came to loud noises but for some reason her fear was becoming worse and worse.
If she even got the slightest sniff of a thunder cloud, she would start barking. As fire trucks raced down the street with their sirens blaring, she would bark. If loud cars drove by her, she barked. Don’t even get me started about how bad she barked on the Fourth of July! I think this dog truly relished any good opportunity to start barking. She must have really loved the sound of her own voice!
I’m sure you can see how this “talent” of hers could become a bit of a problem for me and my neighbors. Bringing her inside when she felt the need to sing to the neighbors may have seemed like a viable solution but I didn’t have that luxury. At the time, my wife and I were living in an apartment and you all know the story there; no dogs allowed!
Since Bailey couldn’t live with us, my parents were nice enough to let her stay at their place. They had a nice big back yard that was fully equipped with a six foot wooden fence and a custom built dog house; courtesy of my Grandpa Peterson.
Herein lies the problem. If she barked, she disturbed my parents and their neighbors. This in turn embarrassed my parents and if you knew them, you would know that they REALLY don’t like to be embarrassed. They are the type of people who are perfectly happy living their lives as far under the radar as they can possibly be. They don’t typically do anything that might draw attention to themselves. Good attention, bad attention, it doesn’t matter. They really don’t like the spotlight pointed on them!
You can imagine how a big dog with an even bigger voice might draw a little attention after a long night of howling at the moon. Being annoyed, irritated, enraged, or embarrassed were small inconveniences compared to the possibility of having Animal Control involved. At the time, Animal Control officers had begun the practice of issuing citations to people who owned nuisance barking dogs. If this were to happen, both Bailey and myself would be looking for new families.
Since this little annoyance had developed into such a huge problem, it left me with only two options. One, figure out a way to get her to stop barking or two, find her a new home. Despite the barking issue, I was quite fond of that dog so naturally I chose option number one. Watching Bailey leave to go live with another family would have just been too painful to bear. Little did I know how terribly painful it would be to try and convince her to stop her incessant barking habit.
Initially I didn’t have any idea as to how I was going to break her of this bad habit so I went to the library and numerous book stores to stock up on anything I could find that might contain the “holy grail” of secrets to quieting a barking pooch. After reading through all of these books I was armed with all sorts of clever tricks that were sure to fix our little problem.
I tried, scolding her the very second she started barking. I even spent many nights sleeping in a hammock by my parent’s back door so I could scold her at just the right moment after she started barking. I tried waiting until she stopped barking and then lavishly rewarding her for being silent. I tried teaching her to bark on command and then when she would start barking, I would shout, “NO BARK”. That one never made much sense to me but it was in the books so it was worth a try. I even tried attaching a high powered nozzle to the garden hose which was strategically fastened to her dog house. The idea was to suddenly turn the water on and spray her in the face when she started barking and quickly turn it off after she stopped. Unfortunately, all this did was leave me with a barking dog that was soaking wet.
Desperate Times Sometimes Call For Desperate Measures
The next thing we tried was a gadget we saw advertised on television. This product was advertised as a humane way to stop barking that was sure to work. It was a special “training collar” that she was supposed to wear. It had a small plastic container on it that automatically sprayed a mist of a chemical called citronella into her mouth every time she barked. Supposedly it tasted so bad that she wouldn’t want to bark because if she did she would instantly be maced with a noxious anti-barking potion.
I thought for sure that this would do the trick. It wouldn’t be an inexpensive solution but I was ready to try anything. I can tell you that this so called anti-barking collar functioned flawlessly. I waited to try it until one night when a thunder storm was rolling in. As expected, not long after buckling it around her neck, she started warming up her singing voice and I could instantly see that the collar was working. She would bark and a puff of the citronella mist would shoot into her nose and mouth.
I remember anxiously awaiting for the barking to stop and to my surprise it didn’t take long. She was really startled by the way this mist magically appeared every time she barked. Even though it seemed to be working, deep down inside, I knew that it was too good to last. The next thing I knew out came her tongue for a quick taste which was followed by another bark and more licking.
If you can believe it, she actually seemed to like the stuff. I felt defeated; not only was she still barking, I had just spent over a hundred dollars on a bark activated PEZ dispenser for my dog. Every time she barked, a mouth full of candy magically appeared.
I was rapidly reaching the end of my rope with this dog and this was the last straw! I’m not proud of this but by this time the once unpleasant thought of finding a new home for her was starting to sound better and better. I was so frustrated and angry that I couldn’t get her to stop her obnoxious barking. Actually, if I’m going to be completely honest, I was bordering on full out rage.
The Search Began To Find Her a New Home
At this point, we didn’t have any more options. We finally agreed that we would have to find a suitable home for what had become a barking monster. We looked and looked and looked but wouldn’t you know it, no one seemed to want to adopt a dog with a barking problem.
Having exhausted every possible trick that I could find to put an end to this nightmare, I didn’t know what else to do and then I saw an ad in a dog training magazine for an electric anti-bark collar. It worked on the same principle as the chemical anti-bark collar except that instead of rewarding her with a tasty treat, it would deliver a mild electrical jolt promptly after she barked. The dog training books that I had read referred to this as “aversion therapy”. The idea was that these collars would instantly apply just the right amount of punishment to her at the precise time that she started to bark.
According to the literature, these perfectly timed jolts would teach her that if she barked, something bad would happen. If she didn’t bark, nothing bad would happen. I wasn’t crazy about this idea but the logic behind it seemed sound. I rationalized making this decision by telling myself that getting a few shocks is a much better alternative than her being taken to the dog pound.
Initially I had mixed feelings about using such a device. The thought of zapping her with an electrical shock just seemed too cruel. I remember thinking that although it seemed cruel, if it worked, it could potentially save her life. If I couldn’t find a home for her and she couldn’t stay at my parent’s house, the only option would be to take her to the pound. There, she could bark to her hearts content but no one in their right mind would ever adopt her. Her ultimate fate would be euthanization if I couldn’t figure out a way to solve this problem.
Although the shock collar would certainly cause some pain, the punishment would be instantaneous and severe enough to finally, once and for all, put an end to this terrible vice of hers and hopefully save her from the fate of being exiled to the dog pound.
The Quest to Find a Solution Continues
I shopped around for an electric anti-bark collar and ultimately settled on a top of the line unit that would surely do the trick. I ordered it from an advertisement that was in one of my dog training magazines and an agonizingly long two weeks passed before it arrived. Although the wait was long, the timing was perfect when it finally did arrive. We were expecting to have a big thunder storm which surely would mean a night full of Bailey’s singing her greatest hits.
Excited, my wife and I made our way to my parent’s house for the inauguration of the peaceful quiet nights that were soon to come. Before we even arrived, I had the collar out of the box and ready to go. I quickly skimmed through the instructions so as to not make any mistakes because this had to work!
Armed with the feeling that nothing could go wrong, I fastened the collar around her neck making sure to adjust it just right. Now came the true test; all that was left for us to do was wait. We wanted her to think she was all alone so that our presence wouldn’t discourage her from barking.
The collar would only work if she didn’t associate the punishment that the collar delivered with people. She had to think that when she barked, some magical force gave her a jolt from out of nowhere. We quietly made our way into the kitchen and hid ourselves behind the drapes. We waited there patiently; then we waited some more. We waited, and waited, and waited but nothing happened. I could see the storm rolling in and this was usually enough to set her off.
Even though the conditions were perfect, she wouldn’t bark. I couldn’t believe it! After all I had gone through up to this point, my emotions were literally overflowing. I was full of excitement because I was sure that this gadget would work and I was full of anticipation for it to start working. Now, as I sat crouched down behind the drapes, peeking through the window like a young child trying to catch Santa sneaking down the chimney, nothing was happening. How was I possibly going to train her to stop barking if she wouldn’t bark with the collar on. She would never get the chance for the collar to do its job!
Little Did I Know That a Different Kind of Storm Was Brewing
My wife could definitely see that I was starting to get irritated. She had been with me through all of this and had seen how angry it was making me. Being such a sweet and supportive wife, she was trying her best to keep me calm but I could feel my blood starting to boil and my face was beginning to flush. I knew the signs and so did she. I was getting ready to blow my top!
Just then I remembered that I had some firecrackers left over from the fourth of July. This was GENIUS! Pure genius! My clever plan was to hide under the carport behind the wood fence and light off a couple of firecrackers so that she couldn’t see where the noise was coming from.
We were far enough away from her that the bang wouldn’t hurt her ears but it would surely elicit an onslaught of barking, or so I thought. I could feel my anticipation brewing. I lit the fuse and dropped the firecracker on the ground on my side of the fence. Three, two, one, BOOM! It worked perfectly. The next thing I heard was BARK! BARK! BARK! BARK! BARK! BARK! I had done it! She was barking. Strangely enough, it took me a second or two before it dawned on me that I shouldn’t be excited that she was barking. If this “miracle cure” was actually working, she should have stopped barking shortly after the first or second bark.
Things were definitely not going as I had planned. She was supposed to bark, get shocked, and stop barking. That would be it. Problem solved, but instead, I had awoken the barking beast within her. If you knew me back then, you wouldn’t have a hard time imagining what happened next. I had a nuclear meltdown. I mean I literally blew my stack. I threw a tantrum that would surely make two year olds from all around the world envious.
Sometimes Saying the Right Thing Makes Things Worse
Seeing that things were beginning to get out of hand, my sweet wife did her best to settle me down. If you’ve ever seen the movie Pollyanna, you’ll know my wife. No matter what happens, she always has the “everything will be alright” attitude. When I’m really angry, this is like throwing a cat in the middle of a pack of fighting dogs. Nothing good can come from it and nothing good ever does.
What she did next, set off a series of chain reactions that no one could have possibly predicted. She innocently suggested that we look at the instructions again to see if we might have overlooked something. Of course I was too busy having a world class temper tantrum to agree to this so she took a moment to look the instructions over herself. She then very cautiously implied that we should try what the instructions suggested and shave a small portion of the hair on her neck to enable the electric probes to make good contact and deliver the shock correctly. Somehow I had missed reading this step when I recklessly skimmed through the instruction manual earlier.
Now, it’s a very well-known fact that guys don’t ask for directions when they are lost and they certainly don’t need to read instructions to figure out how to put a shock collar on a dog. Even so, she persisted and in keeping with the mood of the moment, I hastily grabbed my Dad’s electric razor and started hacking away a patch of hair on the underside of her neck before putting the collar back on her. I don’t imagine that my Dad got many close shaves with that razor again.
I was ready to try again so with the stealth of a ninja, I made my way around the house and crouched behind the fence in preparation to light off another fire cracker. A couple of flicks on a BIC lighter and the fuse was sizzling. Here we were again. Three, two, one, BANG and like before, an onslaught of barking ensued. I’m not talking about yelping from the shocks of the collar either. She was simply barking like she always did. She wasn’t even flinching when she barked which made it very apparent that for some reason, the shock collar wasn’t working at all.
By now you’re probably beginning to see a theme forming in this story so I’ll bet that it’s no surprise to you that it didn’t work! Let me say that again. IT DIDN’T WORK! I had just spent $250 on the latest and greatest technology in anti-bark collars and it didn’t work!
Maybe you can guess what happened next. My lovely little wife searched for the right words to calm me down and after a minute of awkward silence she suggested that we call the company to find out what we might be doing wrong. At the time I couldn’t think of a more inappropriate thing that she could have possibly said. I was absolutely positive that they had sent me a defective unit. I just knew it and if my wife had any sense at all, she would have known it too!
Of course it was Friday afternoon when no one would be available at the company to call and yell at so in keeping with the spirit of the moment, I continued to throw my tantrum while making my way into the house. With my wife in tow, I ranted and raved until we made it to the family room. My poor wife was still trying to calm me down but at this point she would have had better luck flapping her arms and flying to the moon. She knew that there wasn’t a chance in hell of calming me down but I honestly believe that she thought I was going to have a heart attack. Even though she persisted, I wasn’t going to have any part of her sweet talking positive attitude so in one final gesture to prove that I WAS RIGHT and that she was wrong, “it happened”.
Just When I Thought It Couldn’t Get Any Worse
I’m not sure why but for some reason I felt that the best way for me to prove my point to my wife was for me to put the collar on myself. I know that sounds ridiculous but at the time it seemed like the most appropriate way for me to show her that I had to be right and prove that the stupid collar just didn’t work.
Just wait, that’s not the least of my idiotic behavior. I’m not sure what prompted me to do this but nonetheless, I did it. Believe it or not, I BARKED! That’s right, I barked and believe me when I say that God himself could not have delivered a more violent bolt of lightning to my bare skinned throat.
The shock from this supposedly “defective” anti-bark collar instantly incapacitated me. The thundering jolt to my neck dropped me to my knees in less time than it took to blink an eye. My wife was also shocked but for a different reason altogether. She couldn’t believe that I would do such a foolish thing and although she was dumbfounded by my stupidity, she quickly burst into an uncontrollable fit of laughter. I’m not talking about the kind of laughing you do when your weird uncle tells a bad joke either. I’m talking about the kind of laughing that will make tears roll down both of your legs.
No sooner after I hit the ground from the searing jolt, I screamed from the pain. Apparently, a bark and a scream sound remarkably similar to this little device because it subsequently delivered a second jolt that seemed so much worse than the first. Since the pain was so much worse this time, it makes sense that my wife would think it was proportionately more funny.
My Mother was upstairs and couldn’t resist the temptation to join in on the fun so she quickly made her way downstairs just in time to catch the third round of this crazy dance that I was doing with this “broken” shock collar strapped to my neck.
In retrospect it’s really quite disturbing to me that both my wife and my mother were enjoying themselves so immensely while I was learning such an agonizing life lesson. One might wonder why I didn’t just take the collar off and end my suffering. After all, that would seem to be the most logical and prudent thing that I could have done at the time. All I can say is that I think you might be surprised to know how hard it is to think logically when you’re being struck repeatedly in the Adams apple by a lightning jolt.
I’m not exactly sure how many shock-scream jolts I endured that day. That part of my memory isn’t really that clear. I’m also not quite clear on why neither my wife nor my mother thought to help me to get that blasted collar off of my neck. Perhaps they were having such a good time laughing at me or maybe they were simply enjoying watching me get my just rewards for being such a jerk throughout this whole ordeal.
I did eventually get the collar off and my wife and mother did eventually stop laughing. After the pain went away, I was even able to find a little humor in it.
The following Monday, my wife called the company and got authorization to return the collar. She quite enjoyed telling the lady on the other end of the line about my stupidity. Come to think of it, I’ve noticed that she seems to enjoy sharing this story every chance she gets. You’d be surprised how easily she can slip this story into almost any conversation.
I never did get that dog to stop barking. I actually ended up giving her to my brother and his new wife. The funny thing is that I like my brother quite a lot but apparently not enough to keep me from giving him that dog. Fortunately, they had a home of their own and were able to simply put her in the basement when she started barking.
To this day, when I hear a dog bark, I get that feeling that you get just after you realize that a police officer is pulling you over to give you a ticket. It seems that I may have been slightly traumatized by this whole experience.
What’s The Moral of This Story?
The moral of the story is that some lessons in life are easily learned, some are learned the hard way, and some are tremendously painful to learn. I’ve learned a lot of painful lessons over the years. I probably should have learned to control my emotions and not throw so many temper tantrums but truth be told, I’ve been known to have my moments. Not so much anymore though and not because I’ve gotten wiser as I’ve aged. I’m just plain worn out from learning so many lessons the hard way.