Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Change that tone

I have a fantastically growlish tone of voice that I use when my dog has done something bad.
“SENSI!” I bark at him. “Get over here!”
The tone is all he needs to know he’s in trouble.
Though I keep my dog on leash and in his own yard, mishaps do happen. Especially at our previous place, which had several acres of land. In the very back of the property, I’d unclip his leash and let him run around.
And there were many times that he ran off after a squirrel, rabbit or deer.
I’d start barking out his name and different commands.
“Come!” I’d yell in my deepest, throatiest voice.
I could yell to no avail, but that dog would not come back to me.
One day, Brent and I were returning to our place and had Sensi in the truck. It had been a pleasant evening and I opened the truck doors, getting ready to grab Sensi’s leash.
In a split second, he saw a rabbit and catapulted himself out of the truck, hitting the ground at full speed. He disappeared into the swamp, leash and all.
Brent and I canvassed the swamp — I didn’t even take off my high heels before I stepped into the mucky ground. We were both calling him with our strongest, most growling voices.
We must’ve been back there for an hour. Dark was about to fall, my heels were covered in mud and my dress socks were absolutely ruined.
I felt so desperate. I started worrying that he’d chased that rabbit through all 18 acres and reached the road. I just wanted to see him or hear him, just a sign that he was back there somewhere.
The desperation changed my voice.
“SensEEEEE,” I called, my pitch getting higher for EEEs.
I heard rustling and made the high-pitched call again. And through brush came my muck-covered dog, running at me as fast as he could.
I wondered if my tone had anything to do with it, and years later, I’ve learned it definitely did.
Whenever I call Sensi that way — inside, outside — he barrels toward me at the fastest speed his clunky body can muster.
Try a different tone with your dog. You might be pleasantly surprised with the results.

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