Ricky, the beagle/husky mix I adopted in June ’06, is just about the perfect dog. He’s quiet in the house, well mannered, doesn’t beg, and doesn’t chew on things that aren’t his toys. He does, however, chase my two cats. Constantly. And because the cats run, instead of turning and scratching him, he figures that chasing is what they’re for. So for the past 8 months, the dog has lived upstairs and the cats have lived in the basement.
In an effort to secure my own peaceable kingdom, I purchased a spray training collar for Ricky. This collar, which has a remote control, sprays harmless citronella* in the dog’s face when he performs unwanted behaviors. So for the past month, whenever Ricky has so much as looked at one of the cats, I’ve sprayed him. The cats have become much more brave about coming out of the basement, and Ricky’s cat chasing episodes are down by about 85% (sometimes Astrid asks to be chased. She sits and stares until Ricky goes after her. Heck, I’d chase her. Bitch).
This evening, as I sat on the sofa watching the final episodes of Buffy season 3, Ricky snoozed on the cushion beside me. Zeke the parrot was on my knee. And then Astrid jumped up on the arm of the couch (with me between her and Ricky). Ricky tensed, looked at me, but put his head back down. Still tense, but holding. Astrid stayed for a few pets and then took off, no doubt feeling the tension. But hey, we had multi-species couch occupation with no barking and no chasing.
Peaceable kingdom, here we come.
*Plus, my house smells really good.