you there!

Josh brought home a Stormtrooper helmet that he found at Goodwill. It has buttons on the side that play phrases like "Halt!" or "You there!" or "Oh man, I think those might have been the droids we were looking for." There is also what looks like a microphone inside, but that does not seem to be working. In any case, as soon as I saw it sitting on the table, I put it on. And that's when we found out that Remix is apparently part of the Rebel Alliance. Even though the helmet had been sitting in the same room with her all afternoon, and even though she had seen me put it on, she was growling and barking at me like I was here to confiscate her Nylabones. She's not real smart.

We saw this as a useful teaching tool. We've been having problems with her being less-than-friendly to strangers, the whole barking and growling bit (basically, "You there!" over and over again). It's really unpleasant for the stranger, very embarrassing for us, and is just not good ambassador behavior. We explained to her that she was giving pitbulls everywhere a bad name and confirming lots of stereotypes, and she looked at us like she understood, but then she did it again.

I did some internet research and found out that, of course, this is our fault. Whenever the dog is bad, it is our fault, because basically dogs are too stupid to have agency (or something like that). When she meets a stranger, she is not confident that the situation is under control. She does not know that the Alpha (us) has everything in hand, so she thinks she needs to assert herself. What we need to do is find a good way to let her know that Hey dog, it's fine, I got this. So what we have been doing is surprising her with the Stormtrooper helmet. She and I will be outside enjoying the lovely fall weather, when a Stormtrooper will come out of the house wearing Josh's clothes. And she'll get upset, but I will shut her down using my very angry voice (which, let me say, is terrifying in its own right). I hush her up and make her lay down. Usually Josh gets bored and starts dancing while this is going on, adding another level of confusion. We also switch it up where I wear the mask and Josh shuts her down.

It seems to be getting better, in that it's much easier to get her down from Red Alert. Of course, we may only be training her to trust Stormtroopers. A whole team of robbers in costume could come into the house and take all our useless crap while she sat meekly in the corner. Also, we're going to have to ask all visitors to the house to wear the helmet. Somehow, I don't think most of our friends would even mind.

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