Monday, December 29, 2008

Obedience/Customer Service Lessons Needed NOW (PART I)

On our way out of town for Christmas with the in-laws, we stopped to buy a stove and nearly had to kill our dog.

Let me back up.

We've been in the market for a new stove since nearly the day we moved into the house. It's not that our existing stove is horrendous, but it is very ugly and about 20 years old and has burners that are a bit cockeyed. Oh, and the oven itself only about half works and pretty much ruined our wildly expensive cheesecake. This, and a very cheap deal we found on a new GE at Sears, while shopping for my chainsaw, prompted us to finally commit to a new stove as a family Christmas gift to ourselves.

The particular stove we found was a floor model that had been marked down $300 for closeout before we arrived, but which a floor manager told us was actually $300 cheaper than the listed cheap price because it was overdue to be marked down yet again. We wanted to measure our existing space to make sure we could use it, so the manager gave us a markdown guarantee slip, said he wouldn't make the markdown until Friday and told us they would open again at 7 a.m. on that day. The wife, who worked for years as a retail manager, asked if he would get a commission. He said he was salaried, but recommended we see one of his sales people called Pam, who he said would be there on Friday. Super.

On Friday morning at 7 a.m., we left the house with a car packed for our road trip to the in-laws, including Sadie and Avie. Our plan was to hit the mall, buy the stove, arrange for delivery the following week, hit Biscuit World and then hit the road. We parked in the lot outside of Sears. Before I had even unfastened my seatbelt, the wife opened her door and started to get out when I saw Sadie barrel between the front bucket seats from the back of the car and make a break for the semi-blocked door.

"Watchoutwatchoutwatchoutwatchout!" I screamed. The wife, not realizing which side of her Sadie was coming from, turned the wrong way and the dog slipped behind her. I lunged to grab at a dog leg, but my seatbelt caught me and she was out the door and free. This was one of my worst nightmares as far as the dog was concerned. If she gets loose at the house, it's no big deal. We're out in the woods, what's she really gonna hurt? In an open parking lot, with plenty of space to run away from us and other vehicles driving around, it's another matter.

We tried to stay calm, in the hope we could get her back in the car with little fuss. Sadie knew better, though, and was off to the races in her usual game of keepaway from us. Sadie dashed through the parking lot, gleefully smiling as we chased her to and fro. The wife had the idea of busting out the Pupperonis in an effort to lure her back, but this had mixed results. We tore off bits of Pupperoni and dropped them on the ground to lure her into grabbing range, but she was far faster than we were and snatched them up and vanished before we could even lunge. Making matters worse, the weather--which, back at the house, had been a little cool but nothing a hoody couldn't handle--suddenly turned misty, rainy and very cold.

After a close call when we nearly were able to grab her tail, I said, "Toss one in between us," hoping this would let at least one of us have a chance to get her. The coconut *KLONK* sound our heads made as they collided was no doubt comical. Even we had to laugh, through the pain.

All further attempts at Pupperoni luring were futile. She didn't care and, furthermore, decided to run very far away from us to head off temptation.

"Dammit, Sadie, you get back here!" I screamed.

"She'd not going to come to you screaming," the wife hissed at me.

Then some other early morning shoppers had arrived, some of whom saw us bonk heads. Sadie noticed them and rushed toward them, barking furiously.

"No, Sadie, NO! You stop that RIGHT NOW!" the wife screamed.

Mostly the arriving customers ignored her. One little old man, however, asked, "Is it going to bite me?" as Sadie followed him toward the mall, practically snarling.

"No, she's harmless. Just loud," we shouted.

Sadie continued this behavior, thwarting us at every turn until at last we were able to lure her closer to the mall itself. We almost had her cornered in some shrubbery, but she zipped between us and was gone again. The shrubs were near one of Sears' lesser entrances, however, and this gave the wife an idea. As with most mall store exterior entrances, Sears had double doors. So the wife opened the outer set and gestured for Sadie to go in. The dog started to, then refused.

"Come on," I said, stepping through the doors myself. The wife followed and, no doubt fearing we were about to leave her, Sadie followed and was trapped. I pulled the leash from my pocket, managed to keep from strangling the dog with it and we returned her to the car and went back in for our oven.

Our adventure of annoyance, however, was only just beginning.


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