And by “big bark” I mean “annoyingly loud, never ending yippy bark.”
When we brought Jacques home for good In January 2012, we thought his bark sounded funny. We thought he sounded hoarse or like he had a 4 pack a day smoking habit. Obviously we were able to rule out the smoking habit, but for some reason couldn’t figure out why he would be hoarse. That little piece of information would’ve been incredibly handy to have at that moment… but you live and learn, right? HA!
Initially we thought Jacques’s barking habits were funny. He would bark at the bunnies in the yard, the birds in the trees… people passing by… leaves… clouds… thunder… air. We quickly started calling those habits “endearing” because we didn’t want to admit they were incredibly annoying and that we didn’t have a clue how to make him stop. So, much like a parent becomes immune to their screaming child, we became (somewhat) immune to Jacques’s random and annoying bouts of barking. (Though for our sanity – and his safety – we do make him stop after a brief period of time.)
I have since found myself going through the various stages of how to come to terms with the horrid and yet very real fact that I have a yippy dog.
Denial. I’ll never forget the first time I was made aware that I had a yippy dog. My husband and I took Rocky and Jacques for a road trip and some hiking in the SW part of the state. We stopped at the state park’s info desk to ask where would be a good place to take the dogs hiking. The elderly lady at the desk mentioned a few places. I don’t remember the exact exchange she and I had, but it involved the dogs and ended with her looking over her glasses at me, frowning, and saying, “Oh. You have a yippy dog.” I was literally stunned into silence for a brief moment. I replied, “Well, he does like to bark,” which was met with more frowning and a “hmph” from the lady. I quickly exited the building and tried not to think about what she had said – even a little later when Jacques barked his head off at some Longhorn cattle that were mere feet from our car.
Shame. We dropped Rocky and Jacques off for an overnight stay at Tulsa General Veterinary Hospital. (Seriously – anyone in the Tulsa area, go see Dr. P and his staff. They’re the best!) When my husband and I arrived the next morning to collect our furry crew, we heard this high pitched, incessant, and LOUD barking that echoed throughout the entire building. It was so loud it was disorienting. Once I quickly figured out what was going on, my stomach sank. My face turned red, and I immediately began to apologize to Pat, the front staff guy. The incredibly loud and unbelievably annoying barking? Yeah, that was Jacques. And apparently he’d been doing it ALL morning. Non-stop. All. Morning. According to Pat and Scott (the awesome kennel tech), even Rocky’d had enough. They said that Rocky would just sigh and give them an “I’m sorry; I don’t know what his problem is” look whenever they passed by their boarding room. I was mortified. We paid the bill and exited the building as quickly as possible – partly to hide my embarrassment, partly to make sure Jacques didn’t send anyone over the edge of sanity (namely me) with his yipping.
More shame. Reluctant acceptance. One morning I decided to take Rocky for a walk. Now, I knew Jacques wouldn’t be happy about being left behind, but I really, really didn’t feel up to dealing with a geriatric dog and a super spastic ball of energy. So, I thought I’d be nice and crack the front window so he could look outside (something he loves to do) and enjoy the fresh air. As Rocky and I headed out of the house Jacques started barking. Not just a normal “Hey! There’s a cloud passing by!” sort of bark. He was pissed. (Actually the barking sounded a lot like what we heard when we went to pick him up at the vet’s – loud, annoying, and incessant.) I figured once Rocky and I got down the driveway and out of sight he’d calm down. Well, I was wrong. Really wrong.
Rocky and I kept walking. Jacques kept barking. Every now and then, Rocky’d turn and look back in the direction of the house then look at me like, “What the…??!!” Down the street and around the corner – almost 1000 feet – we could still hear Jacques barking. Rocky and I must’ve been quite the sight with both of our heads down low and sighing frequently. (I don’t know if Rocky’s demeanor was because he’s old or because he was embarrassed by Jacques. My bet is both.) Eventually I couldn’t hear Jacques barking anymore. I don’t know if he stopped barking or if we had finally gotten out of range, but it was then that was slapped in the face by the fact that I do, in fact, have a yippy dog.
As Rocky and I finished our walk, I tried to “remind” myself of the benefits of having a small dog – easily portable, eats less, poops less, easier to manage on a leash (I can just drag him if need be), etc. I listed all these things in my mind but kept coming back to the same thing – “But he’s a yippy dog. Niko (my late German Shepherd) wasn’t yippy. Rocky’s not yippy. Retarded but not yippy. I don’t want a yippy dog. That’s why I never wanted a small dog.” There was a lot of heavy sighing on the way back to the house as I struggled with my emotions.
Then while walking up the driveway and to the front door, I saw a little white face staring at me from the front window. He wasn’t barking, but you could tell he was alert and very happy to see us. I opened the front door and was barely able to make it inside as Jacques body slammed Rocky and danced around me in all his excitement.
Then and there I accepted it. So here it is: Hi, my name is Alyssa, and I have a yippy dog. A wonderfully spastic, goofy, loving, annoying, yippy dog. And I love him.
(But we’re seriously going to keep working on the incessant barking thing.)