(Or… Don’t Do This to Your “High Strung” Dog.)
Jacques has had Rocky’s company for the three years that he has been with us. Now that Rocky is gone, Jacques is home alone for a few hours a day and occasionally for a little while on the weekend when my husband and I venture out without him. I have noticed that some of his behaviors have changed.
Jacques doesn’t bark when I come home. He and Rocky used to have a bark-fest that would inevitably end with Jacques howling/yodeling and me laughing hysterically. (One of my regrets is not getting a recording of that. It always made me so happy.) He only occasionally greets me at the door now. Most of the time he doesn’t get up off his perch on the back of the couch. While he doesn’t seem depressed, he does seem a little pouty about being home alone.
One Saturday afternoon, he seemed particularly pouty after my husband and I were gone for a good portion of the day. I decided that I needed to look into some sort of entertainment for him while we’re gone.
A quick Google search yielded numerous ideas and suggestions. (Did you know that there’s a TV channel for dogs?? DogTV. Hilarious!) One of the suggestions was a DVD made for dogs that are home alone. I thought, “Hey! This could be good.” I started playing video clips from a “dog sitter” website which immediately got Jacques’ attention. His squeaks, howls, and generally confused looks were priceless. We thought it was all fun and games… until the video ended. Jacques started circling the laptop, staring at it anxiously. He even jumped up and put his paws on it. I closed the laptop, told him to leave it, and attempted to distract him buy squeaking one of his toys. He wouldn’t move. He wouldn’t stop staring at the laptop. My husband and I started playing catch with a squeaky ball (something he can’t resist)… The only movement Jacques made was to circle the laptop while grumbling. He was in full blown “gotta find the source of that sound neurotic mode” and there was no breaking that spell. Huh. Okay. So, maybe this wasn’t such a good idea after all.
He eventually got settled down – though he never took his eyes off the laptop. We decided to see if his behavior was a fluke, or if that was how he responded to those videos. (And, let’s be honest – we thought it was pretty funny. I know it was mean, but… it was hilarious.) My husband found another dog-related video that quickly got Jacques’ attention. His reaction was the same – grumbling and circling the laptop and squeaks, howls, and head tilts of confusion. Eventually, Jacques laid down on the couch across from where the laptop was. We thought the fun (for us) was over and figured he was bored of it, so we turned it off. Oh no, no, no! Jacques was having none of that! He jumped off the couch and immediately hopped up to look at the laptop. He circled it a couple of times while whining and grumbling. He was obviously not happy with us ending the video. At that point, we decided we shouldn’t send him back into “super spaz” mode, so we put the laptop away. Jacques walked around looking for it for a little bit, but eventually gave up and decided to practice his gold medal sport – napping.
Now when I pull out the laptop or iPad, his ears perk up and he runs up to me to see what’s going on. In retrospect, I should have heeded the words of one “dog sitter” DVD reviewer – “If you have a high strung dog, this isn’t the video for you.” Yes, our dog is high strung. And, no, it is definitely not the DVD for him.