Monday, August 16, 2010

Doggie Addictions

Hello. My name is Captain Monkeypants and I'm the mother of two addicts.

My children are not your classic children. They have four legs, long black bodies with a soft coat, black and tan faces and the biggest brownest eyes you ever saw. They also have tails.

Their addiction is not a classic one either. They're not after heroin, cocaine, crystal meth or even alcohol.

Their addiction is something far harder to control. It's bunnies.

Yes, my two darling little dachshunds, Ms. Rory Wrigglebottom and Ms. Sookie Stackhouse have gone and got themselves addicted to bunnies.

It may sound like an exaggeration but, trust me, they are as addicted and hardcore as any a drug addict when a rabbit is around.

I realized how bad it was this morning when, unlike most mornings, my puppies did not run outside, do their business and then come back to look for me while I was getting ready for work. Our usual routine is that I get dressed then they go outside. While they're outside, I get some biscuits ready for them and then I brush my teeth. While I'm brushing they usually come inside, ready for their morning breakfast biscuit treat.

This morning, they didn't come inside. I gave them a few minutes. I had time to put on my makeup. That doesn't take long since I tend to apply makeup so it doesn't look like I'm wearing makeup. That might not make sense to some readers but to most low-maintenance women, that makes sense. The goal is to look good without trying to look good.

I digress. I finally went to find out where my little puppies were. They were in the brush at the back of the garden. Since I didn't hear yips, the squeal of a captured bunny or anything else worrisome, I went back inside and continued my morning routine. Halfway through doing my hair, I heard excited yips.

The sound of excited yips means a couple of things. It means either Rory has found a hole to dig and though she's made quite a dent in the ground, she can't get any further. She's angry. Or it means she's found a bunny and is hunting it.

Since it was still partially dark and Rory prefers to dig in daylight, my heart sank. I went outside. Sure enough, my dachshunds were prancing and dancing around the tool shed, clearly having scented something alive, yummy and ripe for the capture. Sookie began to yip too. Worried about getting complaints from the neighbours- having heard what they have to say about the Dog Whisperer- I tried to get my puppies to come inside.

It didn't work. My usual commands fell upon oblivious ears. They were on the hunt. Nothing else mattered.

Ironically, in the half twilight, I managed to glimpse something small, furry and decidedly bunny-like streak out from under the tool shed to the brush area. The puppies didn't notice. They still attempted to get under the shed.

After getting angrier because I didn't really have time to deal with this, my tone got sharper. Normally, it's the tone that has an effect on both puppies and though they don't like it, they normally obey. Not today. The bunny was more important.

Since Rory was already halfway under the tool shed, I was worried she might actually get underneath so I picked her up. She wriggled and squirmed, completely focused on getting free, on hunting that bunny. She had time to throw me a, "What do you think you are DOING?" look before she squirmed again. I carried the wriggling pup inside. Sookie, always the more obedient one, followed. I shut the door.

I resumed my morning routine. Then I heard angry yips coming from the family room which contains the backdoor that leads out to the garden. Rory wanted to go back out. Sookie sat innocently by, acting like she didn't want to go out but I knew full well that as soon as the door opened, she'd fly out with her sister.

I told Rory "No" quite firmly and she came inside to sulk. Rather than their usual morning habit of tossing all the toys in their toy box on the floor, having a chomp on a couple, making a couple of others squeak, today they just lay there, sullenly watching me finish up.

Finally, it was time to move into the kitchen. I usually make my travel mug of tea, make the girls go out to do some last minute bathroom business during which time, I ready their crate. Then they usually come in, hop into their crate and then chomp their crate treat- a Waggin' Train chicken breast jerky piece- while I make my quiet and smooth exit out of the back door.

"Usually" is the key word here. Today was not a "usually" kind of day.

Today I reluctantly let my pups out, hoping that my scolding from earlier would get them back on track.

Silly Captain Monkeypants. I'm such an optimist.

They went back on the hunt. I don’t even know if they managed to stop long enough to go to the bathroom. All I know is when I heard excited yips, I was angry. I went out and I know that the real Dog Whisperer would have told me off but I shouted at my puppies. You're not supposed to yell at dogs when they do something bad. You're supposed to practice positive reinforcement.

Well, let me tell you, when two dachshunds decide they want to hunt a rabbit, you can say, "want a biscuit?" all you want and they don't hear you. "Want a biscuit," is usually Rory's favourite phrase. She knows what that means. Today, I might have been speaking Swahili. My temper rose. I'm the Alpha in our house and usually they know it.

It's a natural human reaction when you're angry to yell. I'm not proud but I yelled at my puppies. Sookie, thankfully, understood and she slunk inside, knowing she was in trouble. Rory, my little spunky pile of naughtiness, paid me no mind. I went to get her.

And she'd disappeared.

Yes, Rory W. Gilmore had managed to wriggle under the shed. I was alarmed. What if something bigger than a bunny was under there? What if she couldn't get out? What if….?

Then she emerged, covered with a selection of cobwebs. If she could have smiled, she would have been grinning like a loon, triumphant in her attempts to hunt down that smell. I'm not so sure she can't smile, actually. It certainly looked like it.

I'm guessing she didn't find the actual rabbit, only its scent. She finally succumbed to my command and came inside.

At lunchtime, both puppies managed to get under the shed while my back was turned. I covered up all the entrances I could find but they still kept searching. I sprayed them with the hose and they finally stopped. Tonight, I plan on getting some wood to block all the entrances to underneath the shed.

I did some reading online about my dogs' addiction to rabbits. Apparently, it really is likened to a drug addiction. When certain dogs that were bred to hunt like, say, dachshunds, catch the scent of prey, an endorphin kicks in and they basically get a natural high. Trying to stop them from hunting by offering treats was compared to trying to get a heroin addict to drink a Coke instead of shooting up. It's just not going to happen.

The only thing I can do is try to deter the hunting instinct by distracting them. However, even those that were offering this advice were pretty much saying, "good luck with that!" as they wrote it. Pretty much, I have two hunters on my hands.

My only worry is that they will get so frenzied that they'll find a way out to get to the bunnies that are always so close by. I don't want to have to resort to keeping them on a leash in the garden but that was one of the suggestions. As long as I can't see them finding an escape route, I think I'll just try to prevent any more tool shed burrowing and making sure they don't have any squealing, squirming bunnies in their jaws.

On the plus side, as the weather cools and the leaves fall, it might not be so easy for my little crackheads to scent their prey. At least, that's what I keep telling myself.

Is there a rehab for dogs?

Happy Tuesday!

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