A true story of dogs who behave badly
Elwood Clark, as told to April E. Clark
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Editor’s note: Following is a previously published story that ran in the Glenwood Springs Post Independent on July 27, 2005, featuring the author’s dog, Jake, who died Thursday at his home. He was 11 1⁄2 years old.
My problems started with a traumatic early childhood.
I was dumped along an Indiana country road with my brother, who, like me at the time, was nameless. We found shelter in a ditch until a nice guy named Joe scooped us up and took us to his house in the bed of his green pickup truck. That’s where I met my foster mom. At first she was going to separate me from my brother, but she decided we would keep each other company while she went to work. And she didn’t have the heart to break us up.
I remember crying myself to sleep every night back then and constantly seeking attention from people.
The whimpering soon turned to barking. More and more. I admit it. … I was out of control. I couldn’t help myself. I wanted to stop. I really did. But I couldn’t.
And then, at last, I got help. I got therapy.
Let me tell you about it.
My name is Elwood, a shepherd mix with issues. My psychoanalyst is Ann Goodyear, a behavioral therapist for Bark Busters Home Dog Training. She opened a Bark Busters franchise in Glenwood Springs last month. Goodyear said that before training dogs, she trained people as a project management consultant in Denver.
“I’ve always been a dog lover,” said Goodyear, who adopted her own pooch, Gwendolyn, three weeks ago from Colorado Animal Rescue. “I asked myself, ‘Do I want to be with people and dogs all day or do I want to sit in front of a computer?'”
During my holistic therapy session, Goodyear helped me confront issues with barking, separation anxiety and sibling rivalry. I learned the canine psycho-baggage I carried from Indiana to Colorado was not just about my abandonment issues that date back eight years. Like countless others who have taken to the couch, I also found out my problems can be traced to one cause – my mother (and not the bitch that gave birth to me).
“Often pet owners have tolerated bad behavior for years,” Goodyear explained to my inadequate mom, April. “Most of the time I find that dogs are in complete control of the house because they’re confused about their role. Dogs instinctively follow a pack mentality.”
She’s right. Every pack needs an alpha dog and in my house, the alpha role is shared three ways, between me, my brother, Jake, and my mom. In nature, that’s not the case. In a true dog pack, Goodyear said, there is only one alpha – usually a female – who commands total leadership. My mom needs to take control.
“When you leave the house, you are breaking up the pack and they’re not sure if you are safe when you leave or if you are coming back,” Goodyear advised my mom. “In nature, in a true pack, an alpha dog can come and go while the subordinates can’t. By training owners to use voice control and body language to establish authority, we teach them how to gain control so their dogs can become obedient, enjoyable family members.”
Because we’re on the same level, I bark when my mom leaves the house. Who knows if she’ll ever come home? If she’s walking me and I don’t want to move, I stop and we play tug-of-war with my leash. When I see a cat or, just the other day, a skunk, I run straight for it and ignore her pleas to stop. Why should I? She’s not the boss of me. Until today.
Goodyear said therapy will require at least 10 to 15 minutes of conditioning a day for five weeks. From now on, my mom will take charge. When I bark, she will shut me up with an authoritative command. And I’ll be walking to heel, every day. No more annoying behavior that could get me sent off to the “farm” – the doggie death sentence.
“In a single visit, we can demonstrate to owners how they can control the situation immediately, saving some dogs from being unnecessarily euthanized,” Goodyear said.
The thought scared the bark out of me.
April E. Clark will never forget her lovable red dog named Jake. She can be reached at aclark@ postindependent.com.
Support Local Journalism
Support Local Journalism
Readers around Glenwood Springs and Garfield County make the Post Independent’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.
Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.
Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.
Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.
User Legend: Moderator Trusted User