the smell of my desperation has become a stench

Phone Fury

For about five months now I’ve noticed that Chuck exhibits a certain distaste for the telephone primarily by dropping whatever he’s chewing on, cowering and promptly leaving the room whenever the phone rings. At first I thought it was funny, like ha, ha, my dog is afraid of the phone, isn’t that cute?

But I haven’t been able to figure out why he can’t stand to stay in the room while I’m talking on the phone. For a while I thought maybe he’d been beaten in the first four weeks of his life with a telephone receiver, but that doesn’t explain why he responds to the sound.

And then yesterday in a brief moment of uncharacteristic insight I finally figured out what was wrong with my dog: Chuck doesn’t understand that I’m talking to someone else when I’m talking on the phone, and not unlike my mother and my very Southern and flashy sister, I have a tendency to speak VERY LOUDLY when I’m talking on the phone. I don’t know why I do this, I think it’s the same reason people talk loudly when they’re wearing headphones; we think other people can’t hear us over the music, and so we compensate by yelling. I tend to think that the physical distance between me and the person at the other end of the line requires me to up my volume by about 600%, otherwise how is someone in Memphis going to hear me when I’m all the way over in Utah?

I also tend to slip unconsciously into my southern accent while talking on the telephone, and this is the only time that happens other than when I’m angry or drunk on tequila.

So whenever my dog hears the phone ring, he’s like, OHMIGOD, THIS WOMAN IS DRUNK AND ANGRY AGAIN, IT’S TIME TO TAKE COVER.

  • nicole

    2003/05/30 at 10:12 am

    yes, yes they should.

  • jen

    2003/05/30 at 10:12 am

    I have the same tendency to drift into the southern twang that my mother tried to beat out of me when I was first learning how to count. Boy, she sure hated to hear me say FAHHHve and Nahhhn instead of 5 and 9. Beatings. And I’m not kidding.

  • Gary

    2003/05/30 at 10:12 am

    That’s funny. Poor dog.

  • geet

    2003/05/30 at 10:13 am

    Maybe Chuck needs some positive reinforcement when you are on the phone. aka bribe him

  • mbc

    2003/05/30 at 10:13 am

    poor dog. i wonder if he thinks that some evil spirit possesses you when you pick up the phone, which doesn’t sound too far from the truth, given the drawl, yelling, etc… does he leave when you make outgoing calls too?

  • jen

    2003/05/30 at 10:14 am

    Come to think of it now, my mother had a tendency to be out of the room when I was counting. Maybe it’s not the volume but the accent? (I personally enjoy the lilting southern accent myself and more than once it’s caused me to enter a room to find its source…)

  • Beerzie Boy

    2003/05/30 at 10:16 am

    Or get the poor guy earplugs.

  • Filter

    2003/05/30 at 10:20 am

    I think I would prefer this to my parent’s dog who just gets really pissed and starts barking. You aren’t allowed to talk on the phone in the presence of that dog. At least your dog has the common courtesy to leave the room.

  • gnome-girl

    2003/05/30 at 10:21 am

    poor chuck he’ll be in therapy for sure 😛

  • LB

    2003/05/30 at 10:25 am

    My dog has no phone issues, but she WIGS at the sound of that Will Smith “Jiggy” song, Gary Glitter, or Pee-Wee Hermans laugh. In fact, we’ve gotten her to the point where if we say “Pee-Wee Herman?” she throws her head back and just HOOOOOOWLS.

  • holly

    2003/05/30 at 10:29 am

    Geet is right. Positive reinforcement. My dog is trained to want to go outside when the phone rings. The phone is by the back door. Go answer the phone, dog follows, open door for dog.

  • brittney

    2003/05/30 at 10:29 am

    The fact that Chuck has stinky feet cracks me the fuck up.

    I know that has nothing to do with this entry, but I thought you should know I am laughing (hard) at your misery.


  • Alex

    2003/05/30 at 10:29 am

    When I’m sitting at my desk and start singing one the cats immediately jumps onto the desk and sticks their nose in front of my mouth, while the other one mews loudly…

    I think that’s their “polite” way of telling me to shut up.

    I mean I know I’m not much of singer, but damn.

  • JC

    2003/05/30 at 10:44 am

    that’s really funny. you should try giving him a treat every time he stays in the room when you’re on the phone…that way it’ll teach him he doesn’t have to run and hide, and it’ll remind you to not yell and scare him off.

  • antisocial diva

    2003/05/30 at 11:06 am

    yeah, positive reinforcement in the way of treats (or whatever is his favorite) combined with, “it’s okay” and “you’re a good boy” and smooches might help him come around in time.

  • melly mel

    2003/05/30 at 11:07 am

    At least Chuck is polite. When the phone rings, our cat runs over to the receiver, lifts it up just a bit (with her paw), and then drops it back on the cradle , thus hanging up on the caller. Sometimes she just drops it on the floor. Kind of funny at first (“hey, the cat answers the phone!”), but it’s getting really tiresome coming home to an off-the-hook phone and an unapologetic feline.

  • claudia

    2003/05/30 at 11:13 am

    it’s crazy, but ‘disorientate’ is a word–being ‘disoriented’ is “not knowing which way to go,” but being ‘disorientated’ is “turning away from the east.” Which begs its own set of questions, but at least now you can (as i do) manually grab the ‘disorientated’ party and spin ’em to the west, just to prove a point…

  • Carla Beth

    2003/05/30 at 11:17 am

    My dog Daisy barks at the mailman. So unoriginal that it breaks my heart: “What do you MEAN my pooch is just like YOURS?” She makes up for it when she forgets to RETRACT her tongue, leaving a wee bit sticking out. Also terribly UNORIGINAL, but terribly cute.

  • dete

    2003/05/30 at 11:26 am

    what about the ring itself? maybe it’s got some irritating high-pitched tones up in that shit that catch him in the wrong way. (this coming from a person with no dog his whole life so…)

  • Ana

    2003/05/30 at 11:31 am

    my mom made her dog listen in the phone, needless to say everytime the phone rings the dog comes running and hits everything in the way to get there first. He doesn’t stop burking until everyone says hi to him then you can talk. Its quite annoying.

  • raggmopp

    2003/05/30 at 11:36 am

    I have a cat who doesn’t like it when I talk loudly or emphatically, as I do when repeating an exciting story. If meowing doesn’t get the results he desires, he leaps onto my head. It about scares me to death. Point taken, kitty.

  • jethro

    2003/05/30 at 11:41 am

    Come on now. Southern accents are sexy. But talking 600% louder would be quite annoying. Your dog is just confused. You need to take him to the television pet psychiatrist so that he can know that it is ok to talk in a loud but sexy voice. GO SKYNRD!

  • Charles R. Kaiser

    2003/05/30 at 11:44 am

    As regards your “How to Annoy Me” entry. It _IS_ possible for one to become “disorientated.” One simply has to be unaware of which direction is east.

  • Melissa

    2003/05/30 at 11:57 am

    So, as my mother always asks when my brother talks about his dog like it’s a kid, ‘When’s that baby coming along?’

    I wonder if that’s why my kids cower in the corner when I talk really loud…oh wait that IS because I’m drunk!

  • Kristin

    2003/05/30 at 11:58 am

    My accent also seems to rear its ugly head when I’m drunk or angry…

    Sadly mine’s not sexy southern and I don’t have a dog…it’s more like a cross between Brooklyn and Boston and my boyfriend points it out and makes fun of it every time.

  • Kevin

    2003/05/30 at 11:59 am

    Unless you live in a place with a geographic landmark (like say, Utah or Tucson, Arizona), I bet most people are disorientated. We’re all just disorientateers, not know east from a hole in the ground. When I moved to Virginia from Tucson, I felt a particular sense of disorientatation (ok, I’m done, I swear).

  • aubs

    2003/05/30 at 12:18 pm

    My cats run when my house phone rings, since it does so rarely. I think they think it’s the alarm or something. They have no qualms with sleeping ON the cell phone, however.

    Re: the accent thing, my southern drawl gets crazy strong when I’m drinking. The strangest thing is that I’m from Ohio, land of accent-free-people, and have only lived in the south for 8 years now. Understandably, this confuses many people back home when I drunk dial them…

  • jenB

    2003/05/30 at 12:19 pm

    my husband speaks at volume 11 while on the phone as well. the handy part is that he never has to reiterate the conversation for me, even from 2 floors away because i heard everything. yes, that part in star trek where spock rode kirk like a horse was funny, yes, halo is a great game, yes yes yes, i heard you.

  • Peggasus

    2003/05/30 at 12:35 pm

    Oh yeah, way to make me feel bad, because my dog is DEAF.

    No, really, she is. Why did I not know that dogs lost their hearing as they age? She is over 12 now, and doesn’t hear the garage door go up, or me walk in the house, so I come in and catch her sleeping on the couch all the time. Busted! We have to stomp on the floor to get her attention, or clap very loudly. Oh well, at least I can vacuum now without her attacking it all the time.

    May I make a dog-related suggestion? I propose a moratorium on the phrase “I think he/she smells my dog.” Dogs will sniff anything. Period.

  • dete

    2003/05/30 at 12:39 pm

    did you ever watch the movie “gummo”? accent-free my arse!
    ps. i believe everything i watch, especially foxnews 😉

  • Chris

    2003/05/30 at 1:16 pm

    “The unfreezing process seems to have affected the volume of his voice”, “YES I AM HAVING A HARD TIME CONTROLLING THE VOLUME OF MY VOICE!!!!!!”.

    Geez, some people talk so loud on the phone that I hear conversations from the person on the other end of the phone being within 15 feet of the person on the phone (near me). Phones work perfectly without having to yell into them. Why doesn’t everyone get that!!!!

    This happens in my place of employment. I’ve done all I can to move away from the person who yells in the phone. It’s still not far enough away. Thank God we’re building a new office and this person has an office WITH A DOOR and WALLS! hooray! hooray! hooray!!!!!!

  • the mighty jimbo

    2003/05/30 at 1:21 pm

    my dog was only scared of cows.

    this really didn’t cause too much trouble as everyone knows, the cows just don’t ever come home.

  • speed

    2003/05/30 at 1:22 pm

    I have a Mollucan Cockatoo who says, “Hello!” when the phone rings, then begins to loudly call my name (in my wife’s voice) while you talk. This bird is one of three mollucans in my house. Yes, I am now DEAF, THAT’S WHY I WRITE SO LOUDLY! She’s also a great watchdog (the bird, not my wife). She yells like a fucking banshee if she sees or hears something out of the ordinary. Come to think of it, so does my wife.

    By the way, Dooce, nice website. Well written and funny. Please divorce your husband and move back to L.A. Or, failing that, bring him back with you. Where is Utah?

  • Kevynn Malone

    2003/05/30 at 1:29 pm

    Or maybe Chuck’s just really polite and doesn’t want it to seem like he’s listening in on your conversation…

  • Naaman

    2003/05/30 at 1:35 pm

    I’d like to make an official request for an mp3 with the southern tequila voice.

  • dooce

    2003/05/30 at 1:35 pm

    Just because a word exists in the dictionary DOESN’T MEAN YOU HAVE TO USE IT.

    “Disorientate” is almost as bad as “discombobulate,” and while it’s grammatically correct to use either of them, any self-respecting person should at least think twice.

  • Erica

    2003/05/30 at 1:44 pm

    Yeah! What Dooce said! All variations on “orientate” are almost as grating as the word m… m… moi… st. ARGH!

  • aubs

    2003/05/30 at 1:52 pm

    Erica, NO MORE of that word. It’s on my ‘banned’ list that includes:
    The word for girls’ underwear that starts with a ‘p’, the word that rhymes with ‘busty’ but has a ‘cr’ instead of a ‘b’, and the second word of a red fish…like ‘snapple’ but add ‘er’ instead of ‘le’

    Yes, I had to write them that way so I wouldn’t get the shivers just reading them.

  • Some Guy

    2003/05/30 at 2:00 pm

    The non-word that always makes me cringe is “enthused”. Not a word people. And while I’m at it: news anchors of America, it’s A historic moment, not AN historic moment. Thank you for your support.

  • Sara

    2003/05/30 at 2:25 pm

    Haha. I think Chuck is offically a celebrity.

  • Heather #2

    2003/05/30 at 2:34 pm

    I can’t believe you added a cup of milk. Heathen.

  • bdk&e

    2003/05/30 at 2:58 pm

    My dogs or shall I say my dawgs, K. and E. do exactly the opposite. They see how and what they can do to get my immediate attention when I am on the phone. Today it was K. who pinned E. on top the entry way stairs. E.’s little neck cranked for dear life and breathe on the edge. It happens in mili-seconds. All is good once I hang up the phone.

  • Charles R. Kaiser

    2003/05/30 at 3:09 pm

    My dog Pedro hates elephants. With any other animal on the television he’s fine, but let an elephant show up on the screen, and he will start standing up on his hind legs and barking at the screen.

    He also does not want anyone in the house to sing. If my wife or I starts to sing while sitting on the sofa, Pedro will jump in our lap and try to shove his chest into our mouth. Failing that he wil nip at our lips.

    If we still keep singing, he will start to howl like a little coyote. Then Maya will join in and we get a full rousing chorus. Too funny.

  • Cath

    2003/05/30 at 3:21 pm

    My dog has “printer issues.” If the printer makes any noise out of the ordinary my dog runs for cover in the bedroom! I guess she figures I’m going to start swearing soon and she’d better get out while the goings good!

    What I can’t figure out, though, is how does she know EXACTLY when I’ve had my last bite of cereal and it’s time to fly into place for her morning milk leftovers?

    Dooce, about your dog’s Frito feet. It’s probably the corn in his food. Really. Very common!

  • summer

    2003/05/30 at 3:27 pm

    Circumbobulation. (I may not be spelling it correctly) but it means: walking around a holy site. This word always chapped my very southern ass. . .mainly because it was on the only test on which I would have otherwise made a perfect score on while studying art history in college. Friggin’ monks.

  • Carla Beth

    2003/05/30 at 3:34 pm

    I can’t stand that word for tennis shoes that sounds like snickers, only with an eee instead of an ick. I am madcrazy about PERTURBED and LASCIVIOUS and BEFUDDLED. Love those words! Stick SENIOR and THESIS together, however, and I’ll turn green and turn inside out.

  • the husband

    2003/05/30 at 3:37 pm

    I will not be divorcing my wife. Ever. All you fools can step.

  • lollygagger

    2003/05/30 at 3:53 pm

    I just wanted to second Naaman’s request for an mp3 of sultry southern drawl…

    dooce get a friend’s dog on the line and encourage chucky to chat to his buddy. woof woof!

  • Jodi

    2003/05/30 at 5:59 pm

    Chuck leaves the room to listen in on the other extension. Duh.

  • Pat

    2003/05/30 at 5:59 pm

    what no crushed garlic or chives??thats just crimnal

Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

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