Thursday, December 16, 2010

East Coast Millan (Part 3)

Before we knew it, we were at the house. My GBF had been driving. He turned onto the block and cut the lights a few houses down. We silently rolled up alongside the curb and shut off the engine. We all looked at each other and started to argue about what to do. I was scared. It was all very Pulp Fiction/Seinfeld to me.

While my GBF was arguing with his GBF, I looked out the car window up at the house. It was an older looking house. It was unkept. There were only a few lights on inside. The house was scary. The neighborhood was scary. Gay guys can argue forever so I finally said, “Let’s just go around back. See if there’s a ton of dogs or anything going on back there. If that doesn’t work, you two can knock on the front door, while I hide in the bushes. I’ve got the cops on speed dial, if we need them.” We quietly got out of the car and ran up the side of the house. There was a lock on the fence into the backyard so we had to hop it. I had on high heels. Dog ownership can be brutal. This was turning into a nightmare. The backyard was empty and an overgrown mess.

We walked around the entire backyard and found nothing. We were walking around the side of the house to go back over the fence, when a car pulled up. We threw ourselves up against the broken shingles and ducked down. A tall guy got out of his car along with two puppies. Mutts. He walked right into the house. We listened for barking. Nothing. My dog barks when someone enters a house. Any house. Even if it’s a house on TV. Always. The panic on my face that we didn’t hear anything coming from the house must’ve been obvious because without speaking we all jumped over the fence and ran to the front door. GBF’s GBF ran right into the house, so we followed him.
Not knowing what to expect. Crazy high on adrenaline and fear. Hoping we would find my dog and get her out of there. And then I saw her and screamed her name. She was sitting on some old guy’s lap. She leaped off his lap, and jumped into my arms. East Coast Millan was there. The other guy with the mutts was there and confused. GBF started saying my name. My dog was wagging her tail. I looked over at East Coast Millan and screamed, “What is my dog doing up here in Westchester? Why haven’t you called me back? What the hell is going on?”

East Coast Milan stuttered and stammered from shock and from my demands, but before he explained anything, he introduced me to his father and brother. As I started to calm down, I noticed his father was in a wheelchair. He brought my dog up to see his wheelchair bound father. As it turned out, his father loves Dachshunds, and he thought it’d be a nice thing to do. His brother is also a dog trainer. All of them love Dachshunds. This is what I get for having a pure breed.

I realized I was standing there in front of three grown men and that one was in a wheelchair, and maybe that should’ve been enough of an explanation, but it wasn’t. I yelled at him for not calling me back. For taking my dog out of the city. For worrying me to death. It was very unprofessional. How could he do this? My friends chimed in and backed me up.

East Coast Milan didn’t know what to say, and his father who was in the wheelchair felt bad for me. He apologized and told me how much he’d enjoyed spending a few days with my dog. It reminded him of when he was younger, before his stroke, when he could walk. Then I felt bad. Really bad. As soon as anyone pulls the “when I could walk” card, they could puke on your face and you’d be apologizing to them.

Then GBF, GBF’s GBF, Me, East Coast Milan, and his Dad and brother were all hanging out hearing stories about when East Coast Milan’s Dad was a dog trainer and some of the dogs he trained. He and his sons both had taken such a liking to my dog. They were really nice, and I was happy my dog who had disrupted and barked at everyone for months brought joy to someone else’s life. We ended our visit/kidnap/rescue mission with hugs and directions on how to get back to NYC. East Coast Millan assured me that my dog was now a quiet well-behaved dog.

Driving back to the city nobody spoke. I had really been wrong about East Coast Millan. He was weird, but he was all heart. The best part was that my dog was cured. My friends dropped me off a few blocks from my apartment. I walked my

dog, and she was quiet like a mouse. Wagging her tail. Happy as could be. It had all been worth it. I walked into my building, and I was talking to the doorman. Usually my dog would be going nuts, but she was calm. It was so nice. But then a Doberman walked out of the elevator and my dog barked and barked and barked some more. And then a woman walked out of the elevator without a dog, and she kept barking. All the way up to my apartment, over to her bowl, she stopped to drink some water, and then she barked over to her bed. I started cracking up laughing. After all that, but I was just glad she was back.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

East Coast Millan (Part 2)

East Coast Millan then proceeded to call me every day. I got a full report on her activities and what was going on. She was coming along fine and getting along with the other dogs. He had 7 puppies that she played with all day. She was still scared of the bigger dogs, but that would come in time. I was so happy. World’s Greatest Worker was walking dogs for him now, and she had seen my dog and thought everything looked good.

But then all of a sudden, the calls became less, and then they stopped. No return phone calls. I called World’s Greatest Worker to see if she could find out what was going on, and nothing. She had been walking dogs, but she hadn’t been to his place. I asked her to go over there to see what was going on. What she found? Disturbing.

East Coast Millan was in love with my dog, no doubt, but he was taking things too far. He had her on a leash attached to his belt, and she followed him everywhere all day. He told World’s Greatest Worker it was for trust. We both thought it seemed fishy. World’s Greatest Worker took my dog for a walk with East Coast Millan, and she was seemingly cured. No barking. Nothing. But he said he needed to keep working with her, and then went back to his place and told her he was going to take a nap with my dog.

I’d never seen Cesar Millan sleep with any of the dogs on his show. East Coast Millan finally called me back and left a message saying things were going well, but it’d take a little longer. But I still had this nagging voice inside me saying, “What the hell is this guy doing with my dog?” Why did he need her for a few more days?

Crazy busy with work, it actually helped that he had my dog, but I wanted her back sooner than later. World’s Greatest Worker went by his place. He wasn’t there and neither was my dog. When she inquired where the barkiest dog in Manhattan was, they told her that East Coast Millan had taken her to his house upstate! Dognapping? I furiously started calling. And calling. And calling. I left message after message, but when I came back from my meeting there was still no answer.

I called my GBF and my GBF’s GBF (My Gay Best Friend’s Gay Best Friend) and told them I needed their help. We were going to steal back my dog. Luckily, World’s Greatest Worker was on the inside. She got the address up in Westchester of where East Coast Millan was staying and GBF and GBF’s GBF and I rented a car and took a ride. We figured we’d have to case the joint, and then get my dog. We all wore black, but since we live in NY, that’s all we really own. We went once it was dark.

My GBF thought we should just go up there and tell him that we were taking my dog. But my GBF’s GBF didn't agree. He thought this place up in Westchester might have tons of dogs. We might have to call the cops, animal control, who

knew what we were getting ourselves into? GBF’s GBF thought I should stay in the car, while they knocked on the door, pretending to be lost and then storm the place. I didn’t know what to do. I just wanted my dog back and couldn’t believe the steps I had taken to try to get a quiet dog. I cursed myself. I cursed East Coast Millan. This never would’ve happened with Cesar!


Sunday, December 12, 2010

East Coast Millan (Part 1)

I have a dog, and my dog likes to bark. She barks all of the time. The only time she doesn’t bark is when I’m not there. If a tree falls in the forest, does it make a sound? It might be more like that in regards to my dog barking when I’m not home. Who knows? She’s nervous. High strung. Protective. Crazy. It’s hard when you’re a seven pound Mini-Dachshund. Life must be a scary place. Life in NYC: Even scarier.

When I moved to California, she became a different dog. Of course, at first she did her usual “Barky McBarkerstein” routine, but after a few months she started to enjoy the California lifestyle. She entered into LA LA mode. She became lazy, if you will. I thought she had become a pothead, this dog had such a turnaround. Nothing seemed to bother her. The sun shined every day. She’d lay in my beautiful, spacious, cheap (compared to NYC) apartment, and bask in the glory of West Coast living. In LA, nobody reads books, and dogs don’t bark. It's a real utopia.

But it didn’t last because then I moved back to NYC. High stress. Cars honking. People everywhere. She was back in the big city, and not only did my dog start barking, but she became even more pissed off than she was the first time we lived here. I had to do something. Fast.

When I came back to NYC, I moved into my GBF’s (Gay Best Friend's) apartment for a short time. He had just bought a new apartment, while trying to sell his old apartment. Now he owned two apartments. Gay guys have so much money, it’s unbelievable. The building was upscale. Very upscale. And I was living there illegally. There were doormen. Neighbors. People who didn’t want to hear a barking dog. And there were other dogs that didn't bark. My barking dog was disrupting the peace and harmony that all of these other dogs had created in the building. I was trying to move into the building unnoticed. Impossible. Something had to give.

I wished I had taken my dog to Cesar Millan, while I had lived in LA. Cesar Millan, the world-renowned dog behavior specialist who takes dogs from nuts to normal on his hit show on Animal Planet, was just what I needed. That’s the dream of every unruly dog owner. That Cesar Millan will swoop in and calm the most savage or barky of dogs. But my dog in LA was on best behavior. I didn’t need Cesar. Now on the East Coast, I was in desperate need of help. And then one day, my prayers were answered.

Enter East Coast Millan. The dog whisperer of NYC. But instead of a “ssshhhh, ssshhhh.” He said, “Fooey!” I’m sure he wanted to say “Fuck!” but he was on the Upper East Side. I liked how he rolled. Instead of being fit and Mexican, he was fat and white. Instead of being charming and wise, he was rough around the edges and looked like an ex-con. East coast, baby! All the way! But the one thing he did have in common with West Coast Millan was that he was magical with dogs.

East Coast Millan met my dog, and in one fell swoop while she was barking and acting like a nut, they fell in love. He lightly tapped my dog and said, “Fooey,” and my dog paused. She walked over to him and started wagging her tail. She seemed docile. I’m not sure if that’s how West Coast Millan does it. You know, the whole “falling in love” thing, but this was how East Coast Millan did it, and it worked.

I took his card and called his references. Everyone gave him rave reviews. But...he wanted to keep my dog for two weeks. He needed her to be with other dogs night and day. He wanted her to be in stressful situations and learn not to bark. He told me we’d be reprogramming my dog. The references were people like me. They thought East Coast Milan was a little weird, but that he had done wonders with their dogs. They loved him, and he loved their dogs. He was a third generation dog trainer. It was in his blood. He was almost a dog himself. What did I have to lose?

While I was deciding if I should hand over my dog or not, one of my friends was looking for a job. She’s a writer and needed some extra dough for the summer. She’s also the world’s greatest worker. East Coast Millan was looking for some dog walkers. It seemed like a perfect fit. World’s Greatest Worker met with East Coast Millan, and he hired her on the spot. It made me feel better giving my dog over to East Coast Millan knowing World's Greatest Worker would be hanging around.

I dropped my barky dog off at his place, hoping she’d be okay. The place smelled like dogs. I met the other guys that worked there, and they were also a little rough. It reminded me of some halfway AA house. East Coast Millan assured me that everything would be fine, and that if my dog was trained quickly, she’d be home even sooner. What a relief!