If you aren't keeping up with my hard-hitting interviews with my dog, Bailey, then I am afraid that your life is most likely kinda sucky. I could be wrong about that, but I'm probably not.
Today, Bailey and I are going to talk about her little issue with barking. Let's begin:
Me: Bailey, you're becoming something of a regular here at The Dailies. I know that there are a lot of people that really enjoy hearing your thoughts on life, so I really appreciate your candor and willingness to go deep.
Bailey: Thank you so much, Katie. If I could blush, that is exactly what I would be doing right now; instead, I will be panting for a few minutes. People have no idea how hard it is to be a dog, so I really appreciate your giving us a voice.
Me: You agreed to talk with me today about something that has been a struggle for you all your life. I know it's not easy to talk about. Today, we are going to talk about your issue with barking.
Bailey: It's time that I talk about it. It's the secret struggle of it all that keeps it coming back no matter how many time you spray me with a squirt gun or send me to the garage. At first those things were a deterrent, but my need to bark is just so strong that I would rather be soaked with the water hose or spend the night in the garage than stop. It's just engrained in me from puppyhood. I saw other dogs doing it, and the rest is history.
Me: But why barking? What is the appeal?
Bailey: It took many years of analysis to get to a place where I could understand it all, but now I know that my barking is just a symptom of my fear and need for control. I bark because I fear.
Me: That's really insightful, Bailey. How exactly does the barking help you feel more in control and less fearful?
Bailey: Well, I'm very aware of the fact that I am just a little dog. I don't have power over much. I can't feed myself. I can't let myself out to pee. I can't clean myself in the bathtub. Honestly, I pretty much depend on you all for everything. That....makes me nervous. I figure the one thing I can do, when I sense danger, is to bark as loud as I can, look mean, and raise the hair up on my back. Sometimes I even throw in some preemptive barks just in case there is danger there that I can't see or hear.
Me: Is that why you run out of the house barking?
Bailey: Yep. Pretty much. I figure if there was anyone or anything out there thinking about doing me harm, the best way to scare them off is to come out with all guns firing, if you know what I mean.
Me: Okay, I can see your reasoning, but it makes me think that you bark because you don't trust that we are protecting you. It makes me think that you feel like it's your job to protect us? Would that be an accurate assessment?
Bailey: Yeppers. That is an affirmative. So, here's the deal. I don't want to hurt your feelings or anything, but you all don't always seem to have to together. You will literally open the back door and walk into the back yard without barking or freaking out AT ALL!!!?? You just walk right out there. You also just let people walk by our house without frantically barking or trying your best to scare them away!!!! Honestly, what the heck is wrong with you people? Do I have to protect EVERYONE!??
|Bailey, at her post as the self appointed back yard guard dog. Look out squirrels!|
Me: Well, the reason that we don't freak out when people walk by our house is because they aren't posing any real threat to us. I think you might be "overbarking" because you feel insecure. Maybe you should not only trust that we are protecting you, but also trust that the outside world isn't out to hurt you. And for all things good and Holy, please stop barking like you are going to eat the mailman. Haven't you realized after all these years that he isn't here to hurt you?
Bailey: That guy is most DEFINITELY not be trusted!!! I hate his mailman outfit. I hate his mailman bag. I hate his mailman car with the steering wheel on the wrong side. Do you want to know what I dream about? I dream about one day, you all leave the front door wide open right as that coy dude comes cruisin' up the sidewalk. I wait until he is almost to the door and then I launch all 75 pounds of doggy anger at him teeth first and grab on to whatever meets my mouth first. That dream is what keeps me going.
Me: ( sitting slack jawed with a look of shock on my face) Um. Wow. I just. I don't. I really just don't even know what to say. I had no idea you had so much anger towards the mailman. Do you think you may be projecting your anger about something else onto the mailman!?
Bailey: Yeah, some dude in ill-fitting navy khaki's takes me back to a time in my puppyhood that I was once erroneously spanked with a newspaper by a man wearing similar clothes whilst carrying a pile of mail. NOT!!! Come on, Katie! Pah-leez!!! Save the psycho babble for someone who thinks that crap actually works. I just freakin' hate mailmen. Plain and simple. All of them. Everywhere. No matter what. I was born with this hatred and their slick smugness they display while approaching my home only stokes the flames.
Me: Well, I hope that one day you will be able to work past this innate hate that you carry and work towards some kind of middle ground where you see that God created mailmen and puppies both, and He loves you both the same.
Bailey: If God can somehow show me how in the world He could ever love a mailman, then I promise I will give it a shot. Until then, I am going to stick to my modus operandi.
|Bailey likes to watch out of the front window for the mailman and/or anyone else that dare walk down the sidewalk.|
Me: I appreciate your willingness to keep an open mind. Let's get back to your fears for a minute. Aren't you worried that you might be missing out on some great relationships with other dogs and people because of your barking issue? People stay away from you because they are afraid you will bite them and therefore you don't get to meet them. How does that make you feel?
Bailey: Man, you are super touchy-feely today. I'll tell you how it makes me "feel". It makes me feel safe and in control. If they don't get close enough then I won't have to worry about them hurting me or my family. It's easier for me to be lonely than it is to let people get close and have them do something to me I can't control.
Me: Now who's the touchy-feely one!? That's pretty deep stuff, Bailes. It sounds to me like you keep people away out of a fear that they will hurt you or us and that you won't be able to control it because you realize how small and out-of-control you are.
Bailey: Well, that makes me sound like a mega-wuss, but yes, that would be a fairly accurate assessment.
Me: Well, I don't want to call you names or anything, but if you don't allow people to get close to you out of fear, then you kinda are acting like a mega-wuss.
Bailey: YOU'RE A MEGA WUSS!!!
Me: Okay, okay....just calm down. Here, have a treat....
Bailey: Okay. I'm calm now. I suppose I see what you are saying. I need to trust that I am protected by you all and not feel like I have to carry all of this by myself. It is a pretty big job for such a small dog. I can't make any promises today, but I am going to try and not bark to scare people away and try to be more friendly and trusting of the outside world. If God loves freakin' mailmen, then He must be able to take care of me and my family as well. Thank you for talking to me about all of this today.
Me: That's great, Bailey! This is a huge step in the right direction. God doesn't just loves doggies and mailmen, He loves all of creation. He is going to protect us so that you don't have to, okay!? Since you're willing to try, I guess I will also try and not push people away because of fear. It's not just little doggies that feel out of control. Sometimes I feel out of control too. I think you and I are going to be just fine as long as we keep trusting in God and believing in His love for us.
Bailey: That's a lovely sentiment. Now let me back in the house so I can hide in the closet. There's a storm coming.
Me: I think I know which topic we'll tackle next time....
Thank you all for joining Bailey and I again and taking another look into A Dog's Life!
Our Bark is Bigger Than Our Bite,
Katie and Bailey