Oh My God, Virgil. Oh My God.

Do not be deceived by appearances. He is a lunatic.

There are aspects of Virgil that are lovely and sweet, and aspects that haven’t changed since the day he first arrived in our home, put his head in my boot, and peed. Let’s just say that he has his quirks, and one of them is a hatred for any and all mail carriers that is – and I mean this with zero exaggeration – completely insane and utterly pathological.

I don’t understand it. He sees the SAME. PERSON. EVERY. DAY. And yet every day (EVERY DAY!!!) he reacts to the sight of our mail carrier like she is one of the horsemen of the apocalypse, and has just arrived on our doorstep with the intention of making him into a throw rug. He somehow grows six sizes larger and turns into a horrifying attack creature, snarling and spitting and clawing at the window, absolutely desperate to do something to her that definitely involves her death. I even know when she rounds the corner at the very end of our block, because he has a very special bark that he reserves only for her, and what that bark means is I WILL END YOU, LADY, IF IT IS THE LAST THING I DO.

Now, all of this would be kind of embarrassing generally speaking, because she is the nicest human being on the planet, and really does not deserve to be hated by anyone, human or canine. It is also annoying, because if a child is napping when the mail arrives, guess what?! Not napping anymore. But oh my god, it is so much worse than that, because another thing Virgil does it take any and all opportunities to streak out of the house like a laser-bomb and physically go after this nice, nice woman who is just trying to deliver some goddamn mail and go home and have a beer or something. And? I CAN’T KEEP HIM FROM DOING THIS.

I can’t do it. I’m serious. It happens almost every day. 

I’m not a wholly inept person. I haven’t burned any houses down (yet). I remember to check the stove and lock the windows before I leave. There is gas in my car practically always! But this? This I cannot get a handle on. Either he escapes when I open the door and I don’t notice and he lies in wait for her, or I accidentally open the door to get something from the car at the exact (and seemingly unpredictable) moment that she arrives on our block and BOOM, he’s pushed past me and launched himself at her, or the guys working on our house leave the side gate unlocked and he worms his way through…whatever it is, he keeps getting out and I cannot stop this from happening and my mail carrier is going to kill me.

Suffice it to say that our nice, nice mail lady is significantly less nice to me lately.

She HATES ME, you guys. And I don’t blame her, because WTF is wrong with me that I cannot keep my dog inside our house and/or train him not to follow her for blocks (BLOCKS!!!) trying to eat her feet?

Help me. What do I do, seriously? Clearly we have not done a good job with the training situation; maybe there’s some method I don’t know about? Do I set up some sort of bat signal with this lady where she texts me when she’s approaching, so I know to staple Virgil’s tail to the floor or something? (Kidding! Sort of.)

Help me help me help me. Because the next thing that is going to happen is that my bills are going to start suspiciously disappearing into the ether, and then I will have no electricity and thus no lights and I will have to use candles, and then I really may burn down my house.

Help me not burn down my house.

Photo credit: Sue Hudelson.

  • lara

    This is an interesting topic! You might have done your research, but this video gave an explanation:
    Now, what to do? I haven’t found a solution yet! some people say have your mail lady give out treats, walk the dog, pet the dog. maybe?

    • jordanreid

      I’ve been researching this, and I basically have to make having her come an exciting thing for him…I think? I literally just got back from Trader Joe’s with a big package of cooked chicken strips. UGGGGGGG.

  • Diana

    can she leave the mail in your mailbox or on your doorstep? does it have to be signed?

    • jordanreid

      oh, he acts like this from her coming up to our garage mail slot – not even approaching the door. I could try installing a mailbox by the street but I honestly don’t know that it would make a difference at this point.

  • Val

    You know why he does it? Because it works. He barks his balls off at her, and she leaves. Every single time.

    • Val

      Whoopsie, didn’t realize the video lara posted already explained this.

    • jordanreid

      TOTALLY. My mom sent me an article explaining this today, and now it seems so obvious: he barks, she leaves. Then she comes back, so he barks more aggressively. Then she leaves again. Such a self-perpetuating cycle, and such a hard one to break! I can’t give her treats to give him – I feel like that’d be unfair to ask of her, beyond which I’d be mortified to suggest that – so I’m going to try giving him a treat whenever she comes (or rather whenever she comes and I’m home, I guess, which won’t be consistent and so probably will take longer than it should).

      • Val

        I don’t think there’s anything wrong with asking her to give him treats. This sounds like it’s as much a nightmare for her as it is for you, and she’d probably love to be able to help out with a solution, especially if it’s as easy as giving him a treat in an attempt to make peace. And she’d probably appreciate knowing you’re taking steps to combat Virgil’s insane behavior, even if it means asking her to be a part of the solution. I bet she feels sorry for you at times, and would be relived if you talked to her and enlisted her help. Mail carriers deal with this stuff all the time, and most of them are super cool about it. Lots even carry treats with them to give to pets on their routes. I think you’re overthinking that part of things. Don’t be shy! It’s okay to ask people to help out; we’re all in this together. <3

        • jordanreid

          that’s a really good point. I left her a note the day after I wrote this telling her how sorry I was and how I was taking steps to deal with the situation – basically just letting her know that I take this situation very seriously. I’m going to give it a couple of weeks where I give him treats myself, and then try to enlist her help, I think. she’s seriously SO nice; I bet you’re right about her wanting to help.

  • Jan

    Her having treats would be helpful but that doesn’t solve the problem of him getting out the door. Maybe have a note by the door reminding everyone to put Virgil in another room if you have to open the door. If you have to leave the house, be mindful that there’s no one out there. Notes help a lot. And you can eventually take down the note because then setting him up for success this way will become habit.