Archive for January, 2012

My newest, don’t-leave-home-without-it, dog-walking equipment consists of a small, pocket-sized weapon of great strength – a little canister of pepper spray.

I acquired it after a stray pit bull attacked my own dog while we walked through a nearby neighborhood (“Neighborhood heroes save the day,” Sept. 2011). It was purchased at a flea market in a booth that also stocked more exotic wares like throwing stars, daggers and swords.

This little gizmo has a safety catch that can be unlatched in a nanosecond, and it fits into any pocket. Fortunately, I haven’t had to use it, so can’t testify to its effectiveness. Some of them come disguised as lipsticks, some come on keychains and some come with pouches to carry them in.

It certainly has a positive impact on my confidence. I carry it whenever I take a walk through the national park and when I enter a client’s house. It’s reassuring to feel my hand gripped around that tiny but mighty weapon, waiting in a pocket, when I return to an empty house with a dog that might be too shy or too small to fend off an intruder.

The clerk who sold it to me offered one piece of good advice, although it might be hard to follow in a moment of panic: Make sure you aren’t downwind when you spray.

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My sister has fought  a constant and mostly losing battle against the destructive urges of her husband’s dog, Buddy.

He happily tore chunks out of their expensive, leather-covered massaging chair soon after it appeared in the living room. After the Christmas tree went up, he attacked the wrapped gifts underneath it. Some escaped with only teeth marks, but a box with flashlights in it didn’t survive. Fortunately for Buddy, he didn’t get around to the box containing a set of silk pajamas.

The only solution they’ve found so far is to keep Buddy crated while they’re at work. For another problem, however, my sister stumbled on a technique that works without confining Buddy.

Naturally, he loves lounging on the couch. When his people are home and Buddy is let out of his crate, he likes to jump up on the couch whenever someone isn’t in the room to stop him. My sister got tired of covering the couch with old throws or sheets, of having to quickly strip them off and hide them when company came, to say nothing of the extra laundry chores.

Finally, in a moment of I’ll-try-anything desperation, she laid a sheet of heavy-duty aluminum foil across the seat cushions of the couch.

Buddy hasn’t been up there since.  Who knows, it might even discourage cats from clawing furniture if tin foil is taped or pinned over the favored scratching site. If anyone tries this, please let me know whether it worked.

It’s easy to fold up and stash under a cushion and never needs laundering. Next Christmas, she just might try wrapping all the gifts in it.

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