Saturday, July 28, 2007

UPDATED: Am I the Only One...

... who hates their dog? I do love Mabel. But there are times, like tonight, when I hate her. I really hate her. And I can actually see my life without her.

And I hate myself for feeling this way. It brings up so many bad memories of her first year with me. Her pounding the back doors in the middle of the night, startling me awake from a dead sleep, to go chase a critter; her insistence of sleeping with me; her running off and leaving me while hiking; the way she turns to acknowledge my "NO," squints, turns her head in the direction she wants to go and bolts.

What has me feeling this way is not one but two kitty incidents. Mabel has a high prey drive. And she wants to eat cats. I keep waiting for her to have an encounter with a cat that will beat her up a bit.... no such luck.

This is an overview of where we hike daily. The purple arrow is where we park (it got a little fuzzy when sizing). The main creek is below that long line that runs across the top of the photo... the line is the levy. As the creek is dry this time of year, we settle for the urban runoff. You can see the channel from dead center bottom. It curves up and left. There is an area full of eucalyptus and poplar trees where the water forms a pond before moving on.

Normally, we park and turn left behind the big overbuilt Mcmansions. Shortly before the white arrow is a house / dog I love to visit with. A gorgeous yellow lab I call Summer Sunshine. This dog seems very lonely and I know she looks forward to my visits with her.

We then circle behind the houses, head back toward the big creek and end up in the runoff to let Mabel cool down before going home. We often do variations depending on how good my feet feel but these are the highlights.

A few weeks back, Mabel discovered the house with the white arrow has kittens in their back yard - actually the side of their house. As their yard is well fenced, I would visit with Summer Sunshine while Mabel whined and scratched outside the kitty fence. I would call her and we would be on our way.

Two days ago, Mabel discovered a ditch that runs behind their yard. She shimmied under the fence over the ditch - it doesn't go all the way down to allow for flooding. Again as there was a fence around their yard, I wasn't really worried. She got bored and came to me eventually.

Yesterday, we ran into a fellow rottie owner and one of her dogs we haven't seen in months as he was nursing a snakebite. We played with him for a bit and ran into our regular pack.
The four dogs played and ran. It was hot and we thought they were all exhausted. We hiked with the Ridgies back to our cars and Mabel bolted. I was shocked she left her friends.

They left, I got her leash and hiked over to the house. She had shimmied under the fenced ditch and was sizing up their back fence... which had fallen and was replaced with deer fencing. Within a heartbeat, she was in their yard!

I couldn't get over the side fence or under the ditch fence. I raced back to the car and drove around. I didn't realize at the time that there were two additional cul-de-sacs. I went to the first one and tried to get in the back yard before realizing I was in the wrong place... repeated that in a second cul-de-sac before finding the right one.

The homeowner was a little afraid of Mabel and was in the side yard watching the fiasco. I asked him to turn on his hose. The kittens had taken refuge on top of a grape arbor over a barbeque. Mabel was on top of their grill, leaping at the kittens!

I chased her with a hose for a good 10 minutes before she came to me. I couldn't believe how laid back the guy was..."It's OK. Don't worry about it." I would have read the riot act to someone if those had been my kittens!

Tonight we have our regular hike with our pack. I kept her on leash well past the kitten house, much to the dismay of our friends. I let her go as we were heading into open land... right near Melvin's house. Turns out, Melvin's parents have a cat!

I heard Mabel jumping and scratching on their door. I ran as fast as my pitiful feet would carry me. I squirted her with my water bottle and finally got her leashed up, knocking over a ton of patio furniture in the process. It still took me a good five minutes to drag her off their porch and back into the creek.

By the time we got back to the pack, I was limping... my foot had just started to feel better. My back was aching and I was furious. The whole reason I take Mabel to the creek is to allow her to roam at her own pace and not be pulling me and my terrible feet / back. I'm starting to feel too old for my dog. And after two days of this crap, I don't care if I ever walk her again.

Just when I thought she was maturing and listening, she pulls this. Do I have to wait til she's a senior citizen to enjoy my walks with her?

UPDATE: I called Kat... I had given her a shock collar for her dog. It was one I bought for Mabel and she mysteriously turned into the best good girl before I even took the thing out of the box! Kat found the collar and brought it over. Mabel wore it out with the pack tonight. I only used the buzzer (noise only) three times. I used it to correct her running away once and rough housing Sue twice. She was amazingly well behaved and disliked the noise very much.

And... Mabel had another breakthrough tonight. We've been trying for months to teach her to drink from a water bottle like Hank & Sue and tonight she finally got it! She even came up to me and tapped my bottle with her nose! So, she's back in the nook for now.

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Anonymous said...

That's frustrating. I can't offer suggestions because I always have Spot on a leash, and worry that one day something will startle or scare him and he'll yank the leash off my wrist-taking my wrist with it.

If you're really desperate, get one of those shock collars used for training. Keep her on leash and when you go past the houses that have cats (that you know of)and Mabel starts to go after a cat or runs away from you, you can zap her. It sounds cruel, but I don't think the shocks are too strong, and it's for her own good and yours.

Anonymous said...

Having a dog with a high prey drive *is* hard. We had one greyhound like that and I don't know how many times he nearly jerked my shoulder out of its socket trying to bolt after a rabbit or cat. After he died, we made sure we only adopted greyhounds who had been cat tested. Plus, we have a cat who would probably eat Mabel alive! I also had a little mutt years ago who would kill anything smaller than him. I wish I had some suggestions, the only thing I ever heard of was a shock collar and I just couldn't go that route. Carmon

CreekHiker / HollysFolly said...

Janet & Carmon, I too felt that way about electric shock collars until I realized Mabel's prey drive also included snakes. It was obvious I needed to have her snake trained. They do this with electric shock. It was very effective! Within minutes she knew to leave a snake alone.

After that, I bought one for to train her to come when I call her... and didn't have the heart to use it.

I gave the thing to a my friend Kat to kitty train her dog... it worked! Two zaps and she's great with the cats now. Maybe I need to get it back.... Either that or send her for a visit with Carmon and left Fionna show her a few things!

Annie said...

Mabel might be happy at a dog park - and you might be happy with her there, all fenced in and playing with the other dogs, no cats anywhere.

CreekHiker / HollysFolly said...

Annie, The only dog park is a 1/2 hour away... I don't have a 2 hour chunk of time to walk her every day. The creek is practically our backyard.

Anonymous said...

I didn't know they made those collars with noise only! That's very cool that she is responding to it. I had only seen a shock collar used by a hunting dog trainer and he basically took the dog to the ground wetting himself so I had a really bad feel about them. Hope it continues to work well. Carmon

CreekHiker / HollysFolly said...

Carmon, they make them with noise and ten levels of intensity, all control by remote.

That hunting dog trainer sounds cruel. I was really opposed to them until I realized a rattlesnake bite would be worse. The trainer we used didn't even have the collars turned up that high but the message was clear. That training will have up to six shocks applied to the dog. Mabel got three. After seeing that, I was a fan.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad Mabel gets the message without getting zapped. It sounds like she's enchanted with her new talent at drinking from a water bottle! Hope you can get a photo of her doing it. That would be cool.

Becky said...


We miss Mabel. You know how Curt just loves to get his shoes wet! Since we had to put Daisy down, I love your Mabel stories even more. Animals are so precious! I'd love to get one here in Korea but Curt would kill me and it is hard to get them from here to the US. Oh well.

Annie said...

Thursday - I hope you've been able to reach your Minneapolis friend, Creekhiker.