The other day, my family’s dog, Bear, was “playing” outside in our fenced-in backyard. Our gardener was scheduled to come by at any moment, and he’s petrified of dogs (pathetic, I know). His truck pulled up into our driveway, and Bear, to nobody’s surprise, started barking at him. The gardener refused to get out of his truck, as long as Bear was barking at him.
I’ve tried telling the gardener in the past that Bear is not interested in eating humans, and that he’s only trying to say hello but he never believes me. I vaguely remember him telling me that his brother was eaten by a dog when he was younger. That explains a lot.
Anyway, there was obviously a problem. The gardener needed to open the gate to the backyard so he could garden, but his deep-seeded fear of my dog prevented him from doing so.
I needed to get Bear into the house.
Phase 1: This is Obvious
I opened the door to the backyard, and called Bear’s name. He didn’t even turn his head, just continued barking at the gardener. I called his name with a more “enthusiastic” tone, one that I’m sure is very familiar to all dog-owners. It’s sort of that same tone girls use when they talk to babys, but with a little more “oomph.” Still nothing.
Bear is a stubborn dog. At nine years old he pretty much just does what he wants. For all I know, he’s forgotten his name, because he never seems to give a damn when I call it. I’d have to be a lot more clever.
Phase 2: The Biscuit Trick
There are many “tricks” involving biscuits. For example, there’s this one:
And then there’s mine, which is basically tricking my dog into doing what I want it to do by offering it a biscuit.
“Bear, do you want a Biscuit?”
My other dog, Ralph, who was upstairs at the time of my announcement, of course came racing down the stairs to claim a biscuit of his own. But not Bear. He looked at me for a second, and then I’m pretty sure he shook his head in disgust before focussing his attention back to the gardener.
Phase 3: W-A-L-K
Alright, so Bear wasn’t buying the biscuit trick. But if there was one thing I knew Bear loved, it was walks. In the past, you could say the word “walk” at any time of the day, and Bear would pop up next to you wagging his tail, ready to go. Even if Bear were already on a walk at the time of your announcement, he would be down to leave his current walk and begin a new one.
It had been a few years since I used this particular tactic, but I decided to give it a go. I retrieved his leash from the closet, and headed over to him outside.
“Who wants to go for a WALK??” I asked, standing between the back door and Bear.
He was finally intrigued. The barking paused as he considered my offer. His tail was wagging. I slowly approached him, holding out the leash in front of me. I even decided that I would actually take him for a walk once he came inside. The gardener, noticing that Bear had stopped barking and was walking towards me, decided it was safe to come out of his car.
As soon as the gardener stepped foot onto our driveway, Bear changed his mind, and went right back to barking, jumping up and down with more intensity than before.
I had one more idea.
Phase Four: Give Up
I opened the gate, and Bear ate the gardener.