“What the heck is THIS?” Fido wanted to know.
“It’s a bag of treats!”
“Hey hey hey hey!” he said. “What’s that other thing?”
“Oh this little old thing?” I said, and reached—tentatively— into the shopping bag. “It’s a muzzle, Fido, and it goes around your nose and mouth, kind of like your Gentle Leader.”
“I hate it already,” Fido said.
“Yeah, I know, but you can’t have one, the bag of treats, without the other, you big red lug. It’s going to snow pretty soon, and we have to get used to you wearing this thing, or they won’t let you on the bus.”
“I’ll just run alongside, then,” Fido said.
“Don’t be such an idiot. If there’s heavy weather, as there is sure to be, you’ll want to be inside, on the bus, rather than on the street or in the car. Think about it.”
“I don’t actually think,” Fido said. He grinned. “I am a dog.”
“Well, that’s right, and that’s why you need to be able to wear one of these things. There have been incidents on public transportation with dogs. Not all dogs are as suave and superlative as you.”
“Can I have a biscuit first?”
“Here’s the way it’s going to go: We’re going to take it slow, very easy, for a day or two, and then another day or two, and then another day or two. I’m going to put a treat right inside the muzzle and not fasten it to your mouth and snout. After a week or two or three, you’ll really like it. I promise!”
“Not so fast, Ye Hominid.”
“But that’s the way you’ll get used to this. It might take a while, but on the first day we really need it, you’re going to be happy we did this.”
I told Fido that I had basically two options for a muzzle so that we could ride the bus together. The first one was a “basket muzzle.” Some of these are made out of steel and pretty danged imposing. Some are made out of leather, but I figured neither was attractive (for Fido, anyway) nor really useful. He’s a lover, not a chomper.
The other kind of a muzzle was a nylon contraption, like the ones vets use. Fido already is used to his Gentle Leader, a kind of leash that goes round his nose. He uses one of those because he’d rather be steered, like a horse with a bridle, rather than pulled with a choke chain around his neck.”
“I hate the choke chain,” he said.
“It’s really important that we work at your own comfort level, Fido, and it’s just as important to know that this isn’t punishment, Old Boy. It’s making due with the rules, that’s all.
“If we do this right, you’ll associate the muzzle with good things, like treats, going on walks, socializing with other dogs and that kind of thing.”
“Or riding the bus!”
“Yes, and riding the bus. I promise we’ll have a great time.”
“As long as there’s a biscuit in it for me,” Fido said, “count me in.”