bitteOur two dogs–who we love and adore and treat like children since we don’t yet have any–are standard labradoodles, so they’ve got a fairly distinct look to them. They’re long-legged, curly-coated, 80-ish pounds apiece, and really good at making people fall in love with them. The older one, Gromit, looks more like a poodle. Molly, the baby, looks more like a lab. But I’m convinced that somehow she managed to snag something from a goat’s genetic sequence.
This dog has cost us more money than I’d like to admit. We got her before B’s last deployment, as a way to keep Gromit (who was at the time only half a year old) entertained while I spent 11+ hours away from home each weekday.
Gromit, our first-born
Gromit never destroyed anything or made any messes. He was potty-trained within a week, and from the beginning he was the most obedient critter I’d ever laid eyes on. Then came Molly.
Molly, our Valentines Day dog
The trouble didn’t begin until after B deployed. We had purchased a dog door and a baby gate in advance, so every morning when I left for work I blocked off the carpeted areas of the house and opened the dog door to the backyard. This worked for a while, until the critters figured out how to knock down the baby gate. I started finding smaller items like books chewed up and in bits on the floor each evening. That wasn’t a terribly big deal to me, since I grew up with dogs who chewed my books and I was kind of used to it. I relocated our favorite books to higher shelves and life moved on.
The first “big deal” happened when Molly developed a taste for our loveseat. One afternoon I came home to find that the dogs–I had an idea which one, but in this house you’re innocent until proven guilty–had begun stripping the upholstery from the loveseat. Strangely, I couldn’t locate any of the missing pieces of fabric! My problem was solved several hours later when Molly started retching and expelled an approximately 10″ x 10″ piece of very thick upholstery fabric. I stood frozen in shock and Molly calmly laughed at me with her big, brown eyes. I could almost hear her saying, “That’s right, you did just see that. I’ve got mad skills, mama. Mad skills.”
The next “big deal” happened one evening when I rushed home from work with a terrible migraine. As soon as I got home I popped one of my prescription horsepills, fed the dogs, and then collapsed into bed to relax the headache away. When I awoke later that night I crept downstairs and was stunned by what I saw. One of the dogs had pulled a cushion from the loveseat and stripped it of all remaining fabric, and then they had both proceeded to shred the inner foam into bits. By the time I arrived on-scene our living room looked like it had been hit by a strange snowstorm. The best part, though, is that as I rounded the corner I caught sight of Gromit with a piece of the foam in his mouth. As he pranced in front of Molly he turned his face and blew the foam at her. The little toots were shredding the foam and using it as part of their game of chase!
I purchased a new cushion for the loveseat and threw a blanket over what was left of it to hide the damage. Life continued as it had before, except by this time Molly was attacking our house with full force. No matter what I barricaded the dog door with, the dogs found a way through. They soon also learned how to unlock their dog door, a fact which still amazes me. I was quickly learning just how intelligent they were, and as such I started to feel guilty for leaving them alone during the week. I began waking up ridiculously early–instead of 5 AM I woke up at 4 AM–to jog with them around the neighborhood each morning. After I got home each evening I’d take them to the dog park or let them ride in the car with me when I ran errands. I bought them every kind of dog toy in existence and they successfully destroyed every kind of dog toy in existence. I began thoroughly dousing our entire house with bitter spray. When one bitter spray didn’t work, I rushed to the store and bought three more kinds.
Regardless, the chewing continued and worsened. Molly developed a taste for kitchen chairs, baby gates, library books, textbooks, cocktail tables, stair rails, whole socks, a particularly tasty portion of our bedroom wall, and any sharp edges built into our house. The worst was when I left a bottle of Gorilla Glue on the kitchen counter while I ran to the library to pay for one of the books Molly had chewed. I came home to find Molly tip-toeing around on her claws because her toes and half of her mouth had been glued together. In a panic, and thinking that the glue needed to be removed from her skin ASAP, I frantically began cutting and shaving as much of her fur as possible. It wasn’t until she vomited a few hours later that I did some research online and realized that Gorilla Glue expands when wet, and that it kills lots of dogs each year. I rushed both dogs to the emergency vet at around midnight, where they were both immediately X-rayed to check for blockage. Molly had to be hospitalized overnight and for most of the following day while the vet monitored her and pushed fluids through her system. Toward the end of the next day I got a call from a vet tech who exclaimed “We got her to poop normally! She’s better now! That’ll be $1,000, thanks!” And life returned to what we call normal.
For a while I purchased cheap Ikea floor rugs made of woven strips of cotton fabric, figuring that they were disposable so I could use them to protect the floor in the dogs’ high-traffic areas. Molly proceeded to gobble down every one of the mats, until finally the embarrassment of having to assist her with her very colorful bowel movements proved too embarrassing for me. (People would drive by us pointing and laughing when they caught sight of me with a bag over my hand, trying to free my dog of her undigested cotton spaghetti noodles.)
Not all of Molly’s destructive habits are entirely her fault, though, and at least one of them can be blamed on outside influences. When our new neighbor moved in and her mother snuck some chicken to our dogs over the fence, Gromit and Molly decided they wanted to be friends with the nice, new people who brought them gifts. The dogs carefully started unweaving the privacy stripping from the fence separating our yards, so they could sit and look through the chain-link as they waited for neighbor mama to visit and sneak them treats.
The funniest episodes were the ones that occurred after B returned from Iraq. We assumed that Molly’s chewing was a result of her boredom, so B confidently declared that as soon as he was home to help me exercise and entertain the dogs, Molly would no longer chew things. Not long after his return we came home one day to find his wallet and its contents–including ID and credit cards–in bits on the floor. Some time later we repeated the process with the entirety of a universal remote. Several months after that if we dragged our feet across the carpet little springs and number buttons would pop up out of it. Another universal remote disappeared as soon as we replaced the old one, only this time Molly was considerate enough to also dispose of its two AA batteries. The next day B called me at work so we could rejoice together in the fact that both AAs had been discovered intact in piles in the yard, and for almost a year after that we went without a remote control for our television.
Molly’s favorite treat, she reminded us last week, is socks. Not sock, but socks, because she always eats them in pairs. The first time we realized this was also immediately after B’s final return from Iraq. We were both standing in the kitchen one evening, catching up on the events of our day and preparing dinner, when a noise in the living room got our attention. We both turned in time to see a projectile fly from Molly’s mouth and land a couple feet away on the floor. She backed up and ran away from it, and after a pause B and I decided to approach the HUGE pile on the floor. (We still weren’t quite registering the fact that it had come from our dog’s mouth.) B covered his hand with a plastic bag and summoned the courage to pick up the vomit, and as he did, it unfurled to reveal a sock. An entire man’s sock, without holes or tears or any other alterations that would have made it easier to swallow. (I don’t ingest socks, but I definitely have some suggestions as far as easier methods go.) Molly appeared to have disposed of the lethargy which had plagued her earlier in the day, so we assumed she was all better even though we began to wonder what had come of the other sock in the pair. We found out the next day, when another entire, undigested sock appeared in a dog pile in the backyard. I joked that with some bleach we might have been able to restore them to within a shade of one another so B could wear the pair again, but he didn’t go for that idea.
I’ve heard that the dogs selected to be bomb sniffers and service dogs are required to be destructive as hell inquisitive. (At least this is what my mother tells me every time I complain to her about Molly’s latest chewing spree.) Based on the amount of money we’ve spent repairing things in the wake of Hurricane Molly, according to my mother’s explanation this dog must be the most intelligent canine ever to grace the planet. Or maybe she’s on to my theory and she’s just doing everything in her power to fool all of us.