I may be adjusting well to living in Chicago, but my dog is having a tough time. If there were a poster dog for separation anxiety, my shepherd-mix would be it. Ashby is normally calm and quiet when I’m near her. But when I step out to run errands without her, she turns into a bundle of nerves and begins to bark incessantly.
First, I tried a Thundershirt at Jameson Loves Danger in Andersonville. A tight-fitting shirt that wraps around a dog’s torso, the Thundershirt essentially swaddles canines, calming them and making them feel more safe and secure. The employees at Jameson Loves Danger were very nice and helpful; they were gentle and kind with Ashby, who stood quietly while one employee wrapped the Thundershirt around her chest. The Thundershirt was somewhat successful; it made Ashby a bit more reserved. However, when I was gone for two hours later that night for a community meeting, Ashby again barked continuously.
I needed a quick and effective solution. It came in a barking collar that I bought at PetCo Animal Supplies, in Lakeview. For about $99, my super alert and intelligent shelter dog learned rather quickly that what was allowed in my house in Southern Indiana is far from acceptable in a Chicago condo complex.
After just one bark, the collar emits a warning sound. Two barks, and Ashby gets a mild shock. Three barks in a row, and she gets an even bigger shock. While this method isn’t ideal — I don’t want Ashby to be hurt in any way — it’s effective. What’s more, Ashby is now essentially monitoring herself. By following me around closely, she’s still able to communicate that she’s hungry or needs to go out. And she’s still able to get off one or two barks when she hears something she thinks is odd or threatening. But all in all, Ashby is a much better condo citizen now.
Victoria Marty has written for newspapers and magazines for more than 15 years and recently moved to the Lincoln Square, Chicago area. A frequent runner who loves learning and exploring new places, she has perfected the art of getting lost while simultaneously finding unique landmarks, boutiques and out-of-the-way nooks worth writing about. Her blogs are geared toward the newly transplanted who want to learn as much about Chicago as they can, as quickly as possible.