Success Lessons from Parker the Drama Dog

By Piper Bayard

Meet Parker.

We got Parker from the Humane Society a couple months back when I had a feeling there was a dog waiting that would be a perfect fit for our family. Parker had been taken back twice because he doesn’t play well with others. He almost completely ignored us during our initial visit, and he was about twenty pounds overweight. Perfect, right? Yes. We saw it that way, too.

Once we got him home, we also discovered he was terrified of everything from the vacuum sweeper to the guinea pig to the staircase. But after three days and two pounds of ham to coax him up the stairs, he relaxed into a self-contained, happy pup that blended well with the family. And the best part? He didn’t seem to shed much at all.

Then came the bait and switch. We got back from Vancouver Island to find Parker had started to shed while we were away. In fact, it seemed to be his new mission in life.

In a heartbeat I had dog brush in hand and was calling our little fluff factory to the back door. But he would have none of it. Every time I stroked him gently with the dog brush, he yelped and snapped. I couldn’t even pluck away the loose tufts of hair without him acting like I was ripping off appendages.

So I had a bit of a dilemma on my hands. Traumatize the dog, or allow him to coat us and all of our belongings in his tresses?

DD and I decided to take Parker for a walk and contemplate the situation. While I glared at the dog and DD laughed about the matter, she started flipping the rope leash up and down along his hind end, coaxing off chunks of fluff and leaving his tuchus looking like a topographical map of the Rocky Mountains. Parker was so distracted by all of the sights and smells around him that he didn’t notice.

That made me bold. Every time he stopped to sniff some marvelous delight, I ran forward and started grabbing out handfuls of hair. By the time we finished the walk, it looked like we’d shaved a bear on the path, and Parker didn’t notice or object once. Clearly, when it came to helping him shed, Parker was a drama queen.

The next day, I took the brush with me on our walk and encouraged Parker to sniff every rock, plant, or animal trace we crossed as I left a trail of dog hair tumbleweeds to mystify joggers through the day.

I decided to push it and took him out on the porch at home and continued my work. Without a walk to distract him, he began yelping and snapping again, but this time, I knew I wasn’t hurting him so I gave him a firm ‘no’ and ignored his fussing. He soon settled down.

Now, Parker still hates brushing, but he tolerates it, and I don’t have to feel like a tribble every time I lie down on the couch. And the best part? After I took charge and told him to knock off the drama, he trusts me more than ever, and the new problem is not tripping as he  walks on my heels all day.

Success lessons? Some fears are nothing but bad habits, and discipline will save the day when indulgence fails.

What does your pet teach you about success?

All the best to all of you for knowing when to take charge.

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56 comments on “Success Lessons from Parker the Drama Dog

  1. shawna88 says:

    Love this story. We can apply this to teenagers.

  2. Stacy Green says:

    I know those fluff balls! He’s got Golden Retriever in him. That’s exactly what Toby’s gigantic tufts of fluff look like. He doesn’t like the brush either. We have to ply him with treats to get him to let us (and by us, I mean me) brush his butt and back legs. More than anything, my dogs teach me patience. And that a good pair of pathetic eyes can go a long way in getting you what you want;)

  3. Britta the Bulldog is by my side every single day. Bulldogs are tenacious and stubborn, and she’s no exception. I think it rubs off on me and pushes me to meet my writing goals. I don’t know if she helped me overcome a fear, but she’s been a sound ear to listen and drooling cheerleader when I needed a swift kick in the backside.

  4. What a sweet pooch! He looks like he has so much to say on the matter, I wonder what he’s really thinking. We’ve got two dogs that I am almost certain plan their sheds on off weeks just to keep me vacuuming constantly. Then there’s my daughter who will gently de-shed them inside the house. Yes, inside! Ugh. She thinks it’s hilarious. Me? Not so much. My dogs have taught me that the bed isn’t really mine, it’s theirs. The dog across the street who is walking with their human might be a masked gun man trying to break into the house and therefore should be barked at until they have reached the next county. Just because it’s made of chocolate and deadly for me, doesn’t mean I can’t eat it if it’s within range. And finally, they’ve taught me that no matter how hard my day was, they love me and are willing to cuddle with me for hours if that’s what I need. Dogs totally rock.

  5. sirsamuelzeusclemons says:

    left a comment here the other day and it didn’t show up. so i am suspicious now. the therapist has her phone off da hook. she’s got my M.O. if not my check……

    pet humans can learn a lot from their owners. even if they are just dog owners. mostly dogs is good for chasin’ oranges around da house, only to discover they are bitter. i don’t play tricks on them purposefully. but they are such easy targets.

    i have to go train two interns on the finer arts of walking around in deep thought.. usually hold a pencil in one’s lips and squint a bit, as if life has taken them off into some far place – this way nobody stops to ask any stupid questions in the hall – and in this fashion, they can avoid any real work. it’s best they learn from a Master.

    i tweet at @Samuel_Clemons

    • Piper Bayard says:

      Oh, no, Sammy! WordPress must have messed up because I never saw your comment.

      You remind me of a cat I used to have, Jocko. Jocko would pretend to be asleep until the dog walked by, and then he would smack the dog on the butt just to watch her jump. He thought dogs were easy targets, too.

      Good luck with those interns. The pencil trick is a good one. Be sure to teach them to set up their cubicles so that their backs are to the door when they are at their desks. That way, they can pull up complicated things on their computer screens and no one walking by will notice that they are napping in their chairs.

  6. Julie Farrar says:

    I knew there would be a lesson in there somewhere. And it was a good one. I can think of many ways to apply it to myself.

  7. amyshojai says:

    LOL! The Magical-Dawg and Seren-Kitty are champion shedders (say that carefully when in public *eg*). Drifts of black wool on the white carpet, and a sheen of white fuzz-icity on dark clothes…cain’t win. And good for you for calling Parker’s doggy bluff–so glad you’re learning about each other, and you’re absolutely right that dogs gain confidence and trust when they know YOU are in charge. Sort of like whiny kids, so I’m told, that may grumble a bit but then do the right thing because it’s expected. Pets to Parker–lovely fellow and how fortunate you found each other!

    • Piper Bayard says:

      Everything I know about raising children I’ve learned from dogs and horses. I haven’t turned out perfect kids yet, but I haven’t screwed them up too badly, either, so I think you’re right about dogs being like kids and gaining confidence from knowing we’re in charge.

      Sounds like you’ve got the hair covered (or covering) on all fronts. :)

      • amyshojai says:

        The first vet I worked for use to say he thought it should be a requirement to keep a cat or dog BEFORE you were allowed to have kids, because it was such good training. *s* I’ve never had kids so don’t know about that, but it’s true that many of the same principles seem to apply. :)

  8. Glad you found such a win win solution. I should apply that to my kids lol.

  9. Rob Mahan says:

    It’s really great that you guys went to the Humane Society and became Parker’s Savior and Guardian. Nonetheless, someone still has be be the Alpha Dog in the relationship, and it sounds like you’ve taken on that mantle, too.

    During daylight hours, life around here would be awfully quiet without my constant writing companions, Bandit and Murphy. They’ve taught me that the path to eternal puppyhood is sleeping twenty-two hours a day! I wrote a bit about them recently:

    http://robmahanbooks.com/2012/06/05/my-writing-companions/

    You’re going to have to get new, bigger business cards printed:

    Piper Bayard
    Pale Writer of the Apocalypse, Savior and Guardian of Parker, Alpha Dog

    • Piper Bayard says:

      LOL. I would need business placards. . . . Actually, I’ve come to the conclusion that my dogs save me so perhaps I should get Parker the business card. :)

      Thanks for the link. Bandit and Murphy are adorable!

  10. EllieAnn says:

    He’s so cute! I love his big dark eyes. I can see why you chose him. But that bait and switch was a doozy, aye? LoL.
    I guess what I’ve learned from pets recently was when my daughter fell off a horse (she didn’t get hurt) and the first thing she said was “Can I get back on?” This teaches me that even if something scared your or makes you uncomfortable, if you love it enough it won’t matter.

  11. KM Huber says:

    I, too,live with a drama dog, Cooper James, somewhat of a beagle of a certain age. He came to live with me a year and a half ago after his elderly owner went to an assisted living facility that would not allow his presence. Cooper is talkative and quite easy-going but he has a considerable reserve of stubbornness. We have “conversations” frequently, and like to think that I am able to discern from a legitimate point but I am only human.

    He has always been sensitive along his spine and back legs so brushing has been a challenge. Although he has not snapped at me, he has a howl that would make a banshee proud. I find that taking my fingers gently across his spine–essentially making his hair stand on end–is quite soothing for him and effective for me. He enjoys this ritual every night after I removed his harness. This did take about a year before we settled on the solution. If I do this in the apartment, I am forced to vacuum, which is another issue entirely.

    So glad you and Parker found each other.

    Karen

    • Piper Bayard says:

      That sounds like a great suggestion. Perhaps if I give him a nice back rub, he will be a bit more relaxed with the brushing. Cooper sounds like a wonderful companion, and I’m sure it was a great comfort to his elderly owner that you took him in.

      As for the vacuuming, when I was a girl, we used to just vacuum the dog. She tolerated it, though it wasn’t her favorite thing. I can’t imagine Parker holding still for that one, though. I wish!

  12. Aw, Piper! I’ve been wondering how it was going. He looks like he knows he landed in clover, despite the drama. ;-) And I think I’m going to print that last bit of profundity and put it where I can see it every day. “Some fears are nothing but bad habits….”

    What did my dog teach me? Never stop trying. Don’t get mad, or sulk, just wait a while and try again, because you never know, this might just be the time it works.

  13. Awwww love Parker!!
    My dog can be a pretty high flying drama queen herself. From refusing to let you brush her to not coming when called to spiteful peeing. Ah yes. She’s a joy. LOL! But it’s taught me that our dogs aren’t our babies and they shouldn’t be treated like little babies. They need discipline and they need an owner who isn’t afraid to step up and be the Alpha. Once I took my rightful place, issues with Tess minimized greatly and our relationship flourished.
    Brushing, walking, and listening all improved when it became clear that I was boss and no push over. She’s taught me to assert myself, great patience and the beauty of true unconditional love and devotion.

    • Piper Bayard says:

      Great lessons to learn! We definitely have to get over any authority issues–as in issues taking authority–if we’re going to keep our dogs from running us out of our own houses. Sounds like your Tess is secure in you and her home. :)

  14. Go Jules Go says:

    Oh, Parker – he’s gorgeous! I’m glad he respects the woman in charge now, and is becoming so well-adjusted so quickly! Uncle Jesse (the dog, LOL, my dog) has taught me that I’m okay with putting someone else’s needs before my own, something I wasn’t sure would ever happen!

    • Piper Bayard says:

      That’s a great lesson, Jules. I know that it helps me to be a better person to take care of another living creature, as well. Good practice for children and critique partners. :)

  15. tomwisk says:

    Parker is a handsome pooch. That being said, I am owned by Sophie the Mouser who has taught me that an unplanned nap in the afternoon is essential to sound mental health. I contributes to my sleeplessness but I’ve got some good ideas in the dark listening to oldies stations. Try a water hose set on a fine mist to dislodge any errant fur. The dog might even like it and it’s got a kid friendly feel to it so you can con, I mean suggest, an available youth to take up the hose and water the dog.

  16. Catie Rhodes says:

    Good for you on sticking with it! I don’t know if I would have panache.

    Cosmo the Pomeranian gets brushed every day and has since he came to live with me at 9 weeks old. I think if I ever let it slide, he would turn into a cute little tyrant who hated the hairbrush.

    What Cosmo teaches me is kind of odd, but I’m kind of odd. Cosmo teaches me love and trust and faith. I talk to Cosmo all the time, and he can’t understand a word I say. But he trusts me to do nice things to him and for him. We get up every day, and I’m who he depends on. But he’s not worried. He has faith that I’m going to do right by him. And I will until my dying breath. Cosmo loves me even though I’m not very lovable. He doesn’t care about the complexities that are Catie. All he cares about is that I feed him and treat him with love.

    • Piper Bayard says:

      That’s a beautiful lesson, Catie. Reminds me of that prayer, “God, help me be the person my dog thinks I am.” I doubt your Cosmo has to try hard to adore you, but I know that I, too, am grateful that the dogs I’ve had don’t judge me.

  17. susielindau says:

    Congrats on your new “baby!” I am glad you got things sorted out. Dogs are funny. I think that my dog Roxy reminds me that there is nothing quite like unconditional love. Awwwww! I guess I already knew that!

  18. Susan Spann says:

    Congratulations on your new addition!! He looks like a great dog, despite the shedding. (With the shedding, he’s more like two dogs….)

    Your story reminded me of my husband’s cat (ironically, NAMED “Tribble”). She’s a white Persian and she gets horrific mats. My husband can’t stand cutting them off because she bites and scratches so badly, so guess who gets to take the cat to the bathroom with the electric shaver once a month? Yeah.

    What I learned, though, is that it’s easier to shave the entire cat than to fight over mats here and there. Or, more properly…to shave HALF the cat because that’s all she will tolerate at one time. ironically, we both leave the bathroom feeling better now – her, because she’s at least half-free of mats after each occurrence and me because … well, it does remarkably good things for your psyche to shave HALF of a recalcitrant feline.

    • Piper Bayard says:

      LOL. I’ve seen those things about how to give a cat a pill. Perhaps you should write something about the bonding experience of shaving a cat. Or at least half a cat. How funny!

      I used to have a Maine coon cat mix of some sort. He was huge, and he got terrible mats. I’d heard that peanut butter would help get the mats out. So in my exploratory fashion, I smeared the cat all over with peanut butter to see what the result would be. The result was that the dog promptly held down the cat and licked off all of the peanut butter. I was laughing too hard at the indignant look on his face to make it stop. Besides, the dog cleaned him up much better than I could have. And yes, the cat still had mats. So much for that experiment.

  19. Kathleen says:

    You could save his fur and spin it into yarn. I have friends who have done that with their dog’s fur and knitted something. :-)

  20. Glad you got another dog. Despite the bait and switch, I’m sure he’s found a good home :)

    Cheers

  21. Jenny Hansen says:

    “The Drama Dog.” How freaking funny is it that the creator of the Spooky Dance got the Drama Dog??!

  22. What cutie Parker is! Nice work establishing yourself as top dog, it will definitely help his confidence in you. I have two dogs and three cats. Except for the Lab, they all have long hair and the shedding, oh my! The fur balls have killed two vacuums already.

    • Piper Bayard says:

      We have a Royal vacuum that we got in 1995, and we’ve been brutal with it where the hair is concerned. It’s outlived four dogs, two long-haired cats and a guinea pig. My heart goes out to you on the hair thing.

  23. Great story Piper! I giggled at the pictures of the hair.

    And I am giggling at our own pet stories, because they would be pretty weird. The only pet we have is an anole lizard (my daughter is allergic to any furry creatures). And for the life of me, I cannot think of what we’ve learned from our latest lizard, King Henry (my daughter is addicted to the English monarchy–go figure) or his predecessors, Lizzie (Queen Elizabeth I) or Big Ed (some Brit king from some century).

  24. Jane Sadek says:

    The success tip my dog demonstrates most eloquently is don’t hold grudges. If I ignore her, it’s OK. If I’m late getting around to feeding her, that’s OK. If don’t realize she’s under my feet and I step on her paw, it’s still OK. She’ll give me a little yelp to recover her paw, but when I bend down to apologize, she’s all wagging tail and happy face. Keeps me humble.

  25. I hate shedding! Flea sheds all the time and it drives me crazy. Only, it’s little black hairs that I find in everything: food, clothes, etc. And I was promised that he wouldn’t when we got him..hmmm. LMAO…also, the vision of joggers coming down the sidewalk and seeing a huge trail of fur cracks me up. I’m sure someone thought a dog exploded on its way to wherever it was going..hahaha

    • Piper Bayard says:

      I love it that your dog is named Flea. And I, too, thought about what joggers might imagine seeing all of the fluff. Around here, someone will make a sweater out of it. :)

  26. brennagrimes says:

    Love this story, Parker is such a cutie pie. We’re about to get a cat (first time) & I have a feeling that we’re embarking on a very interesting journey…

    • Piper Bayard says:

      Oh, how fun! Cats are wonderful. They can make you laugh at times when you think you will never even smile again. All the best to you as you become the pet human of a cat. :)

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