He acts like a fur-covered giant toddler although various vets have told me that he’s anywhere between three and six years old. Despite or because of his age and obvious brilliance, he refuses to learn key things about living harmoniously with us, mostly things related to his obvious food issues. This is a dog who is always hungry, and any substance he can sink his considerable teeth into (wooden blocks, Ken’s pants, candles) is food to him.
Our trainer, an excellent dog whisperer who probably only weighs as much as Shay, can merely look at our dog, and he’ll behave. That is, he’ll stay out of the kitchen, which is often the scene of the crime. If he’s out of the kitchen, he can’t: a) Eat the compost, and do his voodoo arranging of banana peels across various floors to trip us; b) Climb up to the fruit bowl, and inhale whole apples in seconds; c) Lick out the sides of the kitchen sink, even if I just washed them with bleach; d) Nudge open the dishwasher and try to lick all he can reach; and e) Get into the pantry and devour boxes of cereal (including the boxes).
Reasonable people might simply put a little gate between other rooms and the kitchen, but since we have an open floorplan, blending kitchen, dining area and living room, our option is to make a hand gesture (I snap my fingers angrily), then say “No” firmly, and then yell “No!” more firmly, like Lady Gaga might yell “No!” to homophobic forces in the world. While it’s a good plan, as soon as we get to the loud “No!” and turn our backs, he walks right back into the kitchen. “Are we going to have to do this hundreds of times until he gets it?” I asked our trainer. “Probably,” she answered.
I’m now thinking we’ll have to do it thousands of times, or tens of thousands of
times. Then I found myself washing a vase when he wandered into the kitchen, and I reflexively turned and threw the soapy water in the vase at him. Shay shot out of the kitchen and stayed out…..for 10 minutes at least.
This is why I just bought six small water guns to place around the house. Water pistol in hand, I went to the kitchen and waited for a few seconds until he trotted in. I pushed the trigger, amazed how far a stream of water traveled. Shay skedaddled out right away. So now, life with a big, naughty means tucking a pink, plastic gun in my pants and taking lead not just as leader of the pack, but sheriff of the kitchen.