A squirt bottle is my new best friend.
I ought to elaborate here. Last year we tried to train our dogs to stop licking everything on earth by hiring a trainer. They licked her face the entire visit, which she refused to acknowledge. She said that if she acknowledged the licking, the dogs would keep licking her. I thought perhaps I could employ dog whisperer techniques I’d learned from watching reality TV:
“But he’s still licking you,” I whispered.
“Eventually he’ll stop,” she whispered back.
“But I want him to stop now,” I rasped.
“You just have to ignore him,” she said as my dog curled his tongue up her left nostril and out her ear.
She went on to deliver poorly rehearsed instructions on how to use a squirt bottle and held out her hand for the 800 bucks we owed her. I just stood there. My wife told me to write her a check.
“Just ignore her and she’ll stop,” I whispered.
She left us with our dogs licking the TV as we stared at our $800 squirt bottle.
The instructions for the squirt bottle are complicated and involve dog trainer jargon that I will try to summarize for you, gentle reader:
Point. Squirt. Repeat.
Kind of like shampoo, but instead of wild hibiscus, your living room ends up smelling like wet border collie.
And it doesn’t work-on dogs. It does work miraculously on children.
Observe my lovely, beautiful, peaceful sleeping daughter at 7:38 a.m.:
“Hey, wake up and go to school!”
“Mrrrhm hrep big fat blrrrgh dorg-“
“-^%$#@! DAD I SWEAR IF YOU SQUIRT ME AGAIN I WILL CALL 91-“
“-I AM PICKING UP THE PH-“
“ARRRRGGGH!” Feet on the floor, fully awake and (I need to be diplomatic here) highly energized.
It is the wand of wonders. King Solomon’s Squeal. Daddy’s Little Helper.
The dogs let me squirt them for precisely one afternoon, until I turned my back for 10 seconds, whereupon they chewed up the water bottle. It took the kids three days before they caught on and hid the water bottle.
In. The. Freezer.
This worked against them, as they left a good 3 inches of space, which I filled with a January-cold carafe of Lake Michigan and squirted them both into a corner.
Precision is important so I recommend a high-end squirt bottle from Kmart with an adjustable nozzle delivering plenty of power behind a stream that’s accurate up to 14 feet. This is the most important part, since safety dictates you stand in the hallway to squirt your more adroit offspring.
I can hide partially behind an open bedroom door and fill up my daughter’s ear like I’m at one of those water races at the midway and her head is a balloon, yet I easily dodge the sharp pencils and X-Acto knives she uses for retaliation.
Christopher Garlington is a Chicago dad and the author of the deathbychildren.com blog.