There are a few lessons we’ve learned the hard way when it came to raising Ned the Border Collie. I figured I’d put a few down here to, hopefully, help you avoid the same issues. Might save you some headaches.
At one point, when Ned was a wee Border Collie puppy, I was changing the trash in the kitchen. It’s a pretty ho-hum household chore, right? Well this particular evening Ned came over and was checking out the trash bag as I pulled it out of the box. He was sniffing at it and licked it once or twice which was odd as he’d never seemed to notice it before. Just messing around I gave it a quick shake which made that noise trash bags do when you shake them. Neds’ eyes got huge, the tail went up and he went into a sort of high alert ready stance. At the time this was pretty funny so I shook it again a little louder. He took off running like he’d just seen a ghost. A minute or so later he slowly came back downstairs staring at that trash bag like it was the Devil himself. We didn’t know at the time but Ned had found his life long nemesis.
A few days later it was time to change the trash again. Puttering around the kitchen I reached in and pulled another trash bag out of the box. Out of nowhere Ned comes charging full steam across the kitchen, looking like he was ready to really kick some butt, right at me. Suddenly I recalled his reaction from a few days ago and, again not thinking much about it, shook the bag at him just playing around. This, as it turns out, was a bad idea.
That was 2 years ago. We’re still dealing with Ned’s extreme dislike of trash bags. Every time I pull a bag out of the box, not matter how quietly I do it, he comes running. He can hear the slightest plastic crinkle of a trash bag from all the way upstairs and, I swear, even when he’s dead asleep. Now, we’ve been able to calm him on this over time so he’s not running around and barking but it’s still a thing.
My mistake really hit home when we were traveling up and down the East Coast for the holidays a year ago visiting family. We had Ned with us, as we were driving, when we stopped for a visit at my bother in laws house in West Virginia. After a monster dinner my sister in law saw it was time to change the trash. See what’s coming here? As she pulled the trash bag out from under the sink Ned charged into the kitchen, from a dead sleep mind you, and let out the single loudest bark he’s ever made (and he almost never barks). Scared her half to death. My wife and I almost fell out of our chairs we were laughing so freaking hard. The look to total confusion and surprise on her sister’s face was priceless. Funny but still, bad form all around on my part.
So the lesson is, I think, don’t make a game out of things you don’t really want to be a game. It’s been two freaking years now and while it is better (no barking or growling) he still comes running every single time we pull out a trash bag. Something like this could, in an extreme example, be a problem at some point. Like what if a little kid had a bag? What if my sister in law backed into a hot stove? I don’t know…it could be over thinking it but I sure would have felt pretty stupid if someone got hurt even a little bit from this sort of thing. It is pretty funny though. Either way…just something to be aware of!
Edit: 1/1/2013 – Just wanted to add to this article with an update. This has continued to cause headaches now that our son Jack is here (see this article). Now when we forget about the trash bag thing when Ned is around, and he lets to a big bark, Jack gets scared half to death and starts crying. Nice, eh?