Tallulah, I'm happy to report, has made some potty-related strides since the serious set back (the ice storm) in this regard. Mostly no peeing in the house now and very little indoor pooping. If she does have a poopy accident, she's developed the sense not to eat the stuff as if it were foie gras, thank goodness. [I wrote that sentence last night. This morning I noticed Tallulah in a corner polishing off her latest pile. I moved on. Quickly. "La, la, la, didn't see that, nope!"]
No, Tallulah's worst problem now is not scatological. And I'm afraid it's also not one she's likely to outgrow. It is (and I feel myself cringe as I type this) her bark.
Let's see...how to explain. For starters, IT'S LOUD. Not loud as in woofy, roaring, Lassie loud, but loud as in imagine a sound that is an extremely abbreviated (nano-second) version of a combined blood-curdling scream, bark, yelp, and chalk squeaking on a chalkboard (for those of you of sufficient age to know that sound). It is high-pitched and startling. It comes out of nowhere. One minute you're sitting on my couch having a perfectly nice conversation and the next it's the decibal equivalent of a gun trigger pulled not a centimeter away from your head. Or maybe like someone bewitched floated up, aimed a basketball half time honker at your ear and pushed the button...
I call her The Glass Shatterer.
I have witnessed, as recently as last weekend, a guest actually involuntarily levitate momentarily from their seat from the shock of an unexpected !YECK! out of my little darling. It is almost inconceivable that such a noise, the auditory equivalent of vicious blow to the temple, can emanate from a dog so otherwise quiet, small, and light on her feet. One minute Tallulah's flitting about, her teensy little tootsies tickety-tacking merrily along on the hardwood. She hops about greeting unsuspecting guests, gets her pets, maybe a treat or a chewy, goes on about her business. And then for a time...nothing. It's like she waits until she's certain the visitor(s) have quite forgotten there is a pint-sized, white, four-legged diva in residence.
Flinching, chest clutching, wincing, involuntary twitching...all reactions my guests have exhibited upon exposure to The Glass Shatterer. Their first question, when they regain their senses, is usually, "WHAT was THAT?" Because the !YECK! isn't immediately identifiable as a sound found in nature. It sounds more like [an abbreviated version of] the last sound you hear just before a train hits; when emergency brakes are suddenly applied to steel wheels that just a split second before were spinning at maximum speed.
The good news, if there is any, is that Tallulah's not really an overly barky dog. (Though this may contribute to the shock value of the sound.) Tallulah tends to bark when she's a) excited over wrestling w/her big sister or uncle Dudley or b) has important news such as "Look! Isabelle's at the door you need to let her in, Mommy!", c) would like to state, "Damn! I think I just heard serial killer blink out back! Battle stations, everyone!", or d) FYI..."Hello? I'm in my crate over here being good? You haven't forgotten about me...HAVE YOU?"
Of course I'm immune. I lost the majority of my hearing to a series of concerts I attended in the 1980's and early 90's. Somewhere between AC/DC and Van Halen (the David Lee Roth version, natch, please do not mistake me for that person) things just aren't the same. I can, of course, clearly hear the Glass Shatterer, just perhaps not in quite the stereophonic glory of my guests, if the looks on their (pale white terrified) faces is any indication. Also, I'm used to the sound, an advantage that simply cannot be overstated in this situation.
I've debated just how to handle unitiated guests. Should I post a sign on the door, 'Warning: Prepare for Sudden Incredibly Loud Bark". Should I just lay it on them, "You might want to keep in mind that this tiny dog could let out a bark loud and startling enough to make you check and see if your brain might be leaking out your ears."
Of course my usual M. O. is to do absolutely nothing except comfort the victims post bark. And, let's be honest. I'll probably just stick with that.