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Is Your Dog a Social Disaster?

Zippy was an embarrassment – a cute Jack Russell with attack-dog instincts.

Zippy: Her ankle-nipping days are finally behind her.

Zippy: Her ankle-nipping days are finally behind her.

We are all more popular when walking with our dogs in tow. People smile at us and sometimes stop to chat.  While it can be delightful to take a stroll with your furry best friend, some of our pint-sized darlings lunge and bark like crazed banshees when they see an unfamiliar face or, heaven forbid, an interloping dog in their neighborhood. I recently addressed this problem with a pretty 18-month-old Jack Russell terrier appropriately named Zippy. Zippy’s habit is to intimidate visitors to her opulent home by barking and leaping with all the menace that her 12-pound body can muster. She has, when the spirit moved her, nipped several visitors and workmen.

As I approach the side door, I can see Zippy through the small window, short legs hurling her body into the door as she raises the alarm. Her owner looks at me through the window, pointing to the dog with a “see what I have to put up with?” look. She then grabs two handfuls of her own hair and pretends to tear it out. I smile my understanding, and try for some verbal communication through the door, placing my mouth close to the windowpane and enunciating over the din: “PUT HER LEASH ON, AND HAND IT TO ME WHEN YOU OPEN THE DOOR.”

The owner’s eyes widen, but then she shrugs and wrestles Zippy into a corner to put her leash on. The owner’s movements are quick, but Zippy is quicker, and I know this dance is a daily event. Eventually the leash finds the collar.

Zippy’s owner yanks open the door and hands me the leash, saying, “Good luck!”

Read the entire article in the January 2012 issue