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Cricket and the Mailman

Cricket watches for the mailman

Cricket watches for the mailman

 

 

            I don’t remember when Cricket discovered that the mailman was the embodiment of evil, but it happened early in her life. She sees him on our street and starts to bark. The closer he gets to our house, the more hysterical her tone of voice – higher pitched and in a faster and faster rhythm until she’s throwing herself against the front door and snarling at him through the glass.

I’ve tried everything to discourage Cricket’s obsessive reaction to the mailman. I used to call her upstairs with the bag of treats in my hand, but I could never break the treats into small enough pieces to outlast the mailman. She still had plenty of time to get back downstairs and bark her message.

She sees the mailman

She sees the mailman

"Mailman! Mailman! Mailman! Mailman!"

“Mailman! Mailman! Mailman! Mailman!”

She starts barking as soon as she hears his truck coming up the street, and keeps going until he is absolutely, positively, gone. Sometimes he has the nerve to park right in front of our house and then slowly bring the mail to all of the houses on our street, returning to the truck for new batches, forgetting mail and having to go back again, waiting until the end to go back and take the packages from the truck that he couldn’t carry the first time through.

We have a pet gate a few feet away from the front door because our previous dog had severe separation anxiety and would always try to leave the house when we did. So we tried closing the pet gate for Cricket so she couldn’t actually see the mailman coming. But, she can hear him. And she hears him before we do, so we never get the pet gate closed in time.

She has a mailman early warning system in her brain that I seem to lack.

One time, when the mailman arrived, I opened the door to get the mail. I probably didn’t know he was still there when I opened the door, because I would have been hiding on the stairs if I’d known, but once he was there I smiled and tried to be friendly. But he grimaced at me and asked, “Is the dog there?” in this about-to-pee-his-pants tone of voice. Cricket was standing about two feet behind me, so I closed the door and let him get on with his business.

It has generalized so that if Cricket sees a mailman when we’re out walking, even if it’s not Cricket’s mail man, she barks. And if she sees a white truck passing by, even a truck with a small amount of white on it, she barks. She has generalized her anger, like a child who was bitten by a dog who learns to fear all dogs.

Butterfly, our new dog, has not learned to fear the mailman, yet. She just stands at the top of the stairs and watches Cricket bark and throw herself at the door. I hope she doesn’t start to think this behavior is normal.

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About rachelmankowitz

I am a fiction writer, a writing coach, and an obsessive chronicler of my dogs' lives.

32 responses »

  1. I had a dog that hated the mail man… anything he put through the door would be chewed up promptly.. it was a race to the door between the dog and I. We tried the metal cages that caught the mail… nope she taught our St Bernard to pull them off the door. In the end the only solution was a box on the wall outside…

    There must be a certain smell that mailmen have that dogs hate. 😀

    Reply
    • Thank God our mailbox is outside and Cricket has no access. I can’t even imagine the damage she could do. I’ve often wondered if the mailman outfit has a particular smell that only dogs can smell, but shouldn’t they have figured it out by now and made a switch? There should be a whole team of researchers looking into this.

      Reply
      • Apparently, the reason they go for the Mail Men is that the dog barks and the mail man goes away.. they see it as a sign of victory and they are protecting you… Also it is because they see them hurry to your door… so the only solution I come up with is get the mail man to come in for a cuppa. 😀

        Friends come in and stay.. in a dog’s mind by all accounts.

        My two are having a ruck as to who is going to get the position behind the sofa.. mind you he is too big to fit behind there but it doesn’t stop him having a go at her because she can….:D

      • My two refuse to play with each other. So, one wants her head scratched and one wants to play tug of war. i have two hands, after all.

  2. She’s going for it on the 3rd pic.
    Living in an apartment we don’t experience that kind of things, over all Doggy is ok with people as long as they don’t get too close to him, however, sometimes he goes crazy and barks non stop.

    Reply
  3. We’re out in the country so I don’t get to see the mail lady because the mailbox is on the main street and out of my sensory range. When I do see her, she’s nice and gives me treats. If you want to see crazy behavior, be around Monday and Thursday when this big truck comes and steals our stuff. My peeps don’t seem to mind, but I do.

    Reply
    • Cricket’s okay with the garbage men, unless she’s outside when they arrive. But they wear those heavy gloves, and they are at least five feet out of range of her long lead, so they can afford to be cocky.

      Reply
  4. Maybe she is just upset because the mail is never for her. Maybe one letter, one package, one catalog from a pet store and she will see the mailman in a whole new light! I remember as a kid how ecstatic I was when I got a letter! 🙂

    Reply
  5. Mailman, Beëlzebub… what’s the difference (from a dog’s perspective, at any rate)?

    Reply
  6. My mailman, Leroy, used to give treats to all the good dogs on his route, so naturally I got treats from Leroy. I started to associate the mail truck with treats, and I thought every mailman I saw had treats for me. Leroy’s postmaster told him he had to stop giving treats to the dogs on his route (some human complained for some reason; why do humans always have to ruin a good thing?), but I still love my maiman, Leroy!

    Reply
  7. When I was a real puppy 3 weeks ago my mailman came to our house everyday and gave me a little treat while my human daddy held me. Same with the milkman. I really look forward to their visits now! I’ve also realised where my humans keep the treat bag and I reckon that I will be able to reach it when I’m fully grown. No fleas on me!

    Reply
    • That’s amazing. I can’t imagine my mailman agreeing to such a thing. And a milkman? I miss those guys. Cricket always believed she would be able to reach the treat bag one day. But when she finally managed to knock it down from the shelf, she discovered that she had no idea how to open it. Foiled again!

      Reply
  8. They just get something into their head and don’t stop! Kirby has this barking issue with fences, my family dog taught him to fear anything and everything on the other side of the fence, we might see people and walk by them, totally fine , but if we suddenly go behind a fence, those same people turn into something monsterous, and he feels he must bark. I have tried everything as well. Where’s the dog whisperer when you need him!

    Reply
  9. Chancy and Mumsy (Mag)

    There is just something about those mailmen. Popsy was a mailman for 20 years and he saw and heard lots of doggies that reacted to him like you do Sweet Cricket. My Popsy was a nice mailman and he loves furbabies but some acted and sounded like they wanted to eat him alive when they saw him. Luckily though he only had one bite in all the years he delivered mail. Hugs and nose kisses Chancy

    Reply
    • Maybe mailman training should be part of puppy class. The teacher could dress up as a mailman and the dogs could practice letting him walk by. Though Cricket didn’t do especially well with her other lessons in puppy kindergarten, so…mailman beware.

      Reply
  10. Bren’s right- it’s a victory every time they chase the evil mailman away. We don’t have home delivery in our little town, so I don’t know how Sugar would react. She’s ok with the UPS man and Steve the Schwann’s man as long as they are outside. If they try to come inside, she gets very upset. She’ll even gently take a treat from them, set it down around the corner, and then return to bark and growl.

    Reply
  11. Bella adores the mailman. Actually, she adores everyone she sees. The only danger you have in Bella is being licked to death. The only people she really hates are the next door neighbors.

    Reply
  12. Loved this story! I had a sheltie that hated the mailman. Your story brought back some funny memories of shredded mail and the race to see who would get the mail first. He also hated the phone and chewed up many phone cords, but that is a story for another day!!

    Reply
    • Phone cords! I remember those. I had a dog who chewed everything; phone cords, table legs, my stuffed animals, a whole couch… But I’ve always had a mailbox instead of a mail slot, or else I’d never see the mail.

      Reply
  13. Dogs are so sweet whatever they do!

    Reply

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