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Shock Therapy

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When I started my journey one day last summer, I knew it would be a long day, but I didn’t realize it would take me seven hours to go one mile. In my defense though, I did that all on my hands and knees.

Our oldest dog, Zach, is fourteen years old now. He is a very docile animal, unless you happen to be riding a bike on the road in front of our home.  Then he turns into a ferocious tiger until the time when he catches you, at which time he turns back into the mild-mannered dog we love again. He is a very passive-aggressive dog.

Zach lives outside in a forty-by-sixty-foot pen and passes easily through a hole into his castle in the barn, complete with an automatic feeder, a heated water dish, and straw from wall to wall.  He has decided he doesn’t have to listen to us anymore when he is out, wandering aimlessly and ignoring our commands completely. I know he can hear because he still reacts to the sound of a potato chip hitting the floor from a hundred feet. So to keep him safe, we began looking into an “invisible fence” for the yard. I should have known I would lose this battle. He has never been one to let fences stop him before.

We had a salesman out to the house, and he assured us his fence would work if Zach had proper training. When the estimate for the fence came in, though, I got sticker shock and decided to install the fence myself. We (my wife) read all the directions, and started the project on a sunny Saturday morning. I fired up the lawn edger, thinking I could cut a groove in the earth while my wife dropped the wire in along the perimeter of our yard.

After thirty minutes, I looked back at my progress. I had managed to throw the belt off the edger twice and kill the engine ten times, netting a whopping twenty feet of ditch. At this point, I abandoned the edger and dropped to my knees and dug the remaining ditch by hand. After seven hours and three trips around the yard, we had the wire buried and it was time to put the collar on Zach.

I turned the fence on low and walked the dog around. He strolled back and forth over the wire like it wasn’t there. I went to the barn and set the fence to medium, with the same results. The machine came with a “tester,” but I didn’t want to read the directions, so I grabbed the collar and held it in my hand while I crossed the fence. You can imagine what happened. Needless to say, the fence was working fine.

So I turned the fence to high, and put the collar back on Zach, walking him across the fence one more time. When he got to the fence, he looked up at me and began convulsing from head to toe, laying down in his passive-aggressive way. I drug him away from the fence, convulsing right along with him until we both cleared the fence. At this point, my vision had blurred, but I think I saw Zach wagging his tail at me.

My wife came out of the house– tears in her eyes– with the instructions, highlighting the part about the hours of training that would be involved, even before turning the fence on, to which I explained, “If I wanted to spend hours training Zach, I wouldn’t have needed the fence.”

In retrospect, I spent $300, crawled on my knees for a mile, had to drag a dog twenty feet, got shocked several times, and I still had to train my dog not to go out of the yard. It wasn’t a very productive day, but the shock therapy seemed to do me some good.

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