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Mush.

Chaos reigns here at the Circus, and although I’d love to blame this on The ‘Rona, rest assured that a quick glance at the archives of this here blog will prove that we’re the family equivalent of the shopping cart with the wonky wheel. We get the job done, but we make it weird.

Two years ago, we brought home two, eight-week-old Native American Indian Dogs that we named Appa and Momo. NAIDs are a mix of Husky, Malamute and German Shepherd, mostly. They are fluffy, sweet, talkative, friendly and generally speaking, not big barkers. Except for Appa. We think Appa is part rooster, because she greets the sun every day with a series of yips and barks, and she keeps it up until we release her from her crate.

Appa (light ears) and Momo (dark ears)

Appa actually seems to have an internal alarm clock that wakes her about an hour before any of us want to be awake, regardless of daylight. Mornings have evolved into a game of chicken, where the hubs and I lie side by side, pretending to be asleep while the dog starts her sun salutation. I’m better at it than he is. I’ve had a lot of practice over the years, ignoring co-sleeping kids. You want to keep it loose – no visible tension in your face or limbs. Finally, one of us will crack, and stomp down the stairs to release the hounds, and start the coffee. The “winner” generally gets another half-hour of pretend sleep before the day starts in earnest.

Appa used to go out into the yard and continue her barking while trying to get her sister to play with her. Momo isn’t a morning dog, and she will often get up and go lay in the yard, while Appa runs at her and barks. Early on, we learned that the only way to get their attention in the middle of this was to say “treats!” loudly and crinkle the treat bag. That would get them back in the house in a hurry. They would accept a treat, hang out for a few, and then back to the yard to bark some more.

I had just about given up, when someone on Next Door mentioned a possible solution. This is the first time Next Door has been useful for anything other than spotting the neighborhood racists and conspiracy theorists. We just got this amazing contraption (and yes, this is an affiliate link):

So, basically, it hears when they start to bark, and then it makes a dog whistle, and then it stops when they stop. Literally took three barks for Appa to decide that barking isn’t so fun any more.

Sorry, neighbors, that it took us almost two years to figure it out. Enjoy the extra sleep!

A side effect of this is that Appa does this weird whisper-bark noise now when they are playing outside. It doesn’t seem to trip the sensor, so now we hear this hoarse, sotto voce yapping when they get going. It sounds like the kind of whispery sibling horseplay that used to happen when I’d tell the kids to stop wrestling and then leave the room.

It just dawned on me that I used to break up rowdy kids by hollering “treats!” at them, too. When it works, it works.

One of the problems I need to work through is the fact that the dogs are really bad on leashes. They are genetically wired to pull heavy loads, so as soon as you put their harnesses on, they are ready to win the Iditarod. Once you wear them out a bit, they settle down, but it is virtually impossible for one person to walk both dogs at the same time – and if you take one, and leave one home, the abandoned dog howls until her sister returns. The neighbors LOVE us, I’m pretty sure. The howls sound like a cow mooing.

Momo mooing

So, basically, walking the dogs means we need two people to take the dogs out, and the first mile is basically an exercise in keeping Balto and Togo from going airborne while dragging our carcasses face down across the pavement. We look ridiculous. The thing is, as soon as we take them to the dog park and let them off their leashes, they will run and play, but are pretty mellow – they don’t jump on people, they love other dogs, they like to cruise around and be friendly. It is ONLY when they are on leash that they have this maniac urge to Pull All The Things, and they can literally pull you right off your feet if you let your guard down for a moment.

This is, incidentally, how walking anywhere with my kids went, too.