The Harlan Chronicles 3


The Doggie-Shrink
A few months into our “dog-parent” relationship and after wearing a friend out with Harlan stories and exploits, she gave me the name and number of a “Canine Psychiatrist”.

Who would have thought there were actual doggie-shrinks out there and what degree plan do you pursue in order to be one?

The doggie-shrink turned out to be a card carrying “Pet Behavioralist” named Linda who made house calls.

My suspicion was that "Linda" was really a dog trainer with an impressive title and fee structure.

Harlan's therapy would amount to one hundred and seventy dollars for three, one-hour sessions. The unanswerable question, “Have you lost your mind?” was a fairly common one from friends and relatives.

When Linda came into his life, Harlan had been living with me for about six months. His behavior had not changed with the exception of occasionally coming out into the daylight. When he did come out of his garage, he would literally skulk about. His head and tail down, his shoulders prominently raised. It was an odd sight. Remaining bark-less, he continued to hoard food and sit silently in his garage all day and night. Bathing Harlan was so traumatic that I had a sedative prescribed (for him). Anyone who knew Harlan could see clearly that he needed help.

Despite the fact that I had warned Linda that Harlan would be a tough nut to crack, she initiated his “therapy” with vigor and enthusiasm. Perhaps she considered him to be a professional challenge.

Unfortunately, typical dog enticements like dog treats, hamburger, steak and sweet talk did nothing for Harlan. He would not be coerced into coming out of his garage, sitting, shaking or lying down by these obvious ploys. He refused to walk on a leash or follow any command she would give him. In fact, one afternoon an obviously stressed Linda (bless her heart) put a piece of steak on Harlan’s nose. She was certain he would shake it off and eat it. He didn’t. Harlan sat motionless in his garage with steak on his nose until we left him alone.
By his third therapy session, it was apparent that Linda’s enthusiasm had waned. She explained that Harlan was un-socialized and because of that, he was un-trainable.

Puhleeeeese, what kind of a Canine Psychiatrist was she anyway? Give up on Harlan? I don’t think so. I never heard from her again.

All was not lost on Harlan’s therapy, however. I did learn that dragging Harlan out of his garage by the leash might be too aggressive for him. Instead, Linda taught me to position myself at Harlan’s exit door, then toss pennies behind Harlan until he would stand up and come to me. The sound of the pennies falling would be bothersome to him. It worked!

Part 4  He Speaks!

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