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Guinness, Master of Destruction

By Gay Published: October 22, 2009

Guinness is my granddog. He is so cute, you can not help but love him. He is a fascinating blend of many breeds, and he got a bit of naughtiness from most of those, I suspect. But he is so cute, and so loving. My daughter-in-law got him from a Humane Society, and there had obviously been trauma in his former life. He was a young dog, when they got him, but he was nervous, and he fretted when they were at work. I went to visit the three of them about six years ago, when he was still relatively new to them. Guinness quickly exhibited his boundless energy. He would play fetch till he dropped. He would hike the Appalachian Trail. And he missed his people. My son is a surgeon, and my daughter-in-law is a Physician’s Assistant, so their hours are long. Guinness, however, was the center of attention when they got home. While I was there, I was determined to harness his penchant for chewing, running away, and yanking arms out of socket while walking. He was a pup still; he weighed about twenty five pounds. Who was clearly going to be the winner, I, right?

Wrong. Very wrong. When his people left for work, I would snap on Guinness’ leash and nose halter. He didn’t bite, but this kept him from tugging—somewhat. He loved the leash, he fought the halter. Once it was all in place, with me feeling as though I had dragged a thousand pound carcass through deep snow, we’d begin our walk. He was anxious to pee. I thought maybe he wasn’t getting out enough, which might have contributed to his anxiety, but after five minutes and as many markings, I gave up that idea. He barked constantly. If it moved, he barked. If it didn’t move, he barked. I would tell him “sshhh” and pet him when he stopped barking give him a treat. He learned that if he barked a lot and I hushed him enough, he’d get a lot of treats. We’d walk about forty minutes. I took him through the McDonald’s drive through, and the girl said, “You’re not supposed to walk through the drive through.” I groaned.
“Aw, come on,” I pleaded, “I deserve a break today,” so she handed over two ice cream cones. Guinness was ecstatic. Although he was small, he was quick, and he consumed his cone and mine, lickety split. He had a number of evacuations on the way home, and we climbed the steps to their apartment. He barked at everyone he saw. He saw people who weren’t there. He was a barking fool. We did a lot of “No Bark” on our walks, and he got a bit better.
Inside, he was ready for more fun. I gave him a Kong, and he figured it out quickly. He loved to play ball, and he brought his favorite ball over to me. I would stand at the end of the apartment and throw the ball down the length of the apartment, which culminated in my son’s study. Guinness fetched, but he made a circuitous route bringing it back to be thrown again. He bounded down to the study, retrieved the ball brought it back, but feinted as I reached for it and jumped from one couch to another. Then we were ready again. After about twenty minutes of this, I was pretty bored, so I suggested we have one last throw. He seemed to understand. I threw the ball, he disappeared, and I thought he was taking a much needed nap.

But he wasn’t. he was eating the venetian blinds. This was, and has continued to be, a favored entertainment for him. I am sure a dog psychologist would say he associated something bad with venetian blinds, but however friendly I tried to make them, he would chew when no one was around.

I felt an utter failure, but we would walk three or four times a day, play ball, and I would stop him from biting the blinds. I shouted really loud, he put his tail between his legs and went to his pillow. We did this a lot, and I thought he was cured. But it’s six years later, the apartments turned into houses, and the blinds became increasingly expensive and desirable.

My son is in the Navy, and they were stationed at camp LeJeune with all kinds of booming. By this time , Guinness had acquired a pal, Holly, who is a sweet, gentle, well-behaved girl. They hoped she’d have a calming effect on Guinness. My son went to Iraq as a Marine Battalion Surgeon, and the separation anxiety, despite my daughter-in-law’s ministrations, hit a fever pitch. No Dad. Loud booms.
When my son returned, Guinness had already eaten through several blinds, but he heard his person’s voice, and went bounding into the room and up into my son’s arms. He was pretty good for awhile.

He was put on tranquilizers which did have a calming effect. They live in New Orleans, and Guinness catches snakes, a worry, because there are poisonous ones. He has chewed a blind or two, but he has got better, although he does run away if given half a chance.

Here are some things that may help if you have a Dog From H*ll like Guinness:

  • Get a companion (check. Not much use)

  • Stop the behavior as soon as you see it, yelling loudly and shaking something or blowing a whistle to distract him

  • Remove the object of his destructive obsession. In Guinness’ case, it meant closing the doors.

  • Confine him

  • Try a motion detecting alarm. If Guinness is sneaking towards the blinds, the alarm should go off, and then you step in with a firm no while removing him from the blinds.

  • Punish him with a firm “NO!” as soon as you see the offensive behaviour.

  • You might try giving him a slight electric shock if you catch him making a snack of the blinds. No one wants to do that, but no one wants to replace blinds weekly.

Now that he is older and on tranquilizers, his people give him and his friend as much attention as possible. A new baby is on the way, so that will be a challenge. I, personally, feel that Guinness does it on purpose, as he misses his people and his early life was probably trauma-filled. But enough is enough.

If he doesn’t behave, we have offered to take him. Our dog is 110# of lean gentle dog. And we don’t have any blinds.

Submitted by Gay Fifer, Parsley Hollow, Inc.

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