We all have that one ex. The one that no matter how much time has passed, we can't help but cringe at the thought. The ex that if we saw them drop their ice cream cone or get pooped on by a pigeon, we would feel just a tiny bit satisfied.
With that one ex always comes that one story. It is the story that perfectly illustrates it all. At every retelling, your friends and family shake their heads and cluck their tongues in disapproval.
My one ex, we'll call him Greg*, was arrogant, lazy and all around maddening. As if that weren't bad enough, he didn't even like animals. I know, I know. What was I thinking?
In fact, he once chastised me for my apparently dreadful habit of pointing out dogs walking down the sidewalk while ignoring all the people. I won't bore you with all the myriad of red flags that my teenage brain happily ignored, but I do have my one story to tell.
If you've read any of my past posts you'll know my husky, Portia. When Greg and I began seeing each other, Portia was a mere 4 months old. Just a wee puppy. She was, like all puppies, naughty (at least by human standards).
I was in college and living at home at the time. Greg was over for a visit and we were surveying the kitchen for snacks. At that moment, Portia hopped up and put her little puppy paws on the cabinet to get a better look.
Greg, completely disgusted by her behavior, sneered “you should get a shock collar.”
Immediately, my heart leapt into my throat and my blood pressure increased. So appalled by his statement about my precious puppy I immediately replied, “Don't you ever say anything like that ever again. We are not having this conversation.”
He was cowed and tensions cooled. Once back in my bedroom he reiterated, “I really think you should get a shock collar for her.”
I would like to preface this by saying that I am, for the most part, rather shy and not prone to confrontation. But this, this was simply unacceptable.
Upon hearing Greg repeat his remark, I felt anger well up inside my chest. My face was red hot. "Get out," I spat.
Looking perplexed, Greg replied “Wait, what?” At which point I repeated, “Get out. Right now. Get out of my house.”
He fled the room, was out the door and gone. I emerged, prompting my dad to ask what had happened. At the same time my mom returned from a walk and asked, “What happened to Greg? He sped past me in his car looking angry.”
I explained what happened and was met with enthusiastic approval. My folks were not exactly card carrying members of the Greg Fan Club.
I wish I could say that that was the last I ever saw of Greg. Afterward he managed a weak apology and our relationship, if one could call it that, continued on for several more months. I didn't break up with Greg so much as cut off all contact. He returned my belongings by throwing them in our front yard in the middle of the night.
Why am I telling you all this? Because, sadly, using electric shock to train dogs is still legal in the US. It is not just promoted by crappy ex-boyfriends either. It's promoted by people who claim to be professionals. People who take someone's hard earned money to shock their dogs into lifeless “non-doers.”
Shock jocks are not after behavior modification so much as they are after no behavior at all. Dogs, like children, are best seen and not heard. Or anything at all, really. They should be made to lie on a mat in the corner until the human in the room deems it appropriate for them to engage in some predetermined activity.
I'm sure that had baby Portia remained in a corner of the room, quiet and unmoving, Greg would've approved of her at least to some degree. He may have even claimed she was a good dog.
I just can't help but feel that we shouldn't be letting the Gregs of the world tell us what constitutes a good dog, do you?
*My apologies to all the kind-hearted Gregs of the world. No hard feelings!