Dogs and Destructive Chewing

We have two animals in our house. If you saw what are house looked like sometimes, you’d think we have more than that.

Six children. Four teenagers. You can just imagine what the kitchen, bathrooms, and bedrooms look like. It’s fun. We also have a dog that likes to go from room to room and see what she can play (chew up into little pieces and walk away) with.

A carpet with chewed up plastic containers and paper, and a large bone.
Remnants of Doggie’s chewing. The blue is the inside of a chew toy she pulled apart.

We’ve learned to keep things away from the edge of the table. Doggie likes to take whatever she can find and chew and tear it beyond recognition. There was this one incident last year when I had been commissioned to write a newsletter for a college’s pharmacy school. It was a long process that involved hours of telephone calls and video conferencing. Because I’m old school, I took notes on paper for these interviews. I was looking everything over, including my finished stories when another emergency required my attention. I left my notes on the dining room table to tend to said emergency. When I had returned, I found that Doggie had somehow made her way onto the table and chewed on my notes. Lucky for me, my stories had been written and I was just waiting for final confirmation and approval from the school. The point is, Doggie had violated my personal space and my work that day.

There are plenty of exciting things in your wastebasket for a dog to discover and play with.

There are a lot of violations Doggie likes to commit on a daily basis. If you have a dog, you know exactly what I’m talking about. We have learned to keep the bathroom door closed all day every day. You would never think there could be so many things for a dog to play with. Humans see trash as something to get rid of. For dogs, however, trash can be a meal, an appetizer, or even maybe more chew toys. Yes, there are plenty of exciting things for a dog to discover and play with in your wastebasket. The real fun, though, is when you get to clean up after Doggie is done playing. It’s amazing to see what one small creature is capable of.

Doggie has her own chair in the house. It’s chewed on. She has chew toys. They are chewed to the point of the toys being opened up and the insides pulled out and chewed on. Furniture? Chewed. Books? Chewed. I have notebooks I like to keep with me while working. She got one and chewed it.

A black notebook missing the top right corner. It's been chewed.
My notebooks are now in protective custody.

Doggie has a mat next to her chair. She hasn’t chewed on that… yet, but she does like to take things with her to the mat and chew away. We’re always finding remnants of things all around the house. Wife and I don’t need many guesses when we hear one of our children yelling, “No!” or, “Bad dog!”

Our First Dog

As bad as things can get, it’s not as bad as the first dog wife and I owned. We had talked about getting a dog for a while and we did it before we had children. He was a puppy, just four months old when we got him. We had no idea what we were getting ourselves into, but we knew that when we got him because this was our first dog. No matter. We were ready for whatever this dog was going to bring us.

A man posing with a dog.
Me, with our first dog. Note the blue floor between us and the gray surface with pee stains behind us.

What he brought us was months of chewing on every piece of furniture in the house. We tried to buy a spray that was supposed to make furniture taste so bad, dogs wouldn’t want to chew on it. It didn’t work. We tried a “trainer” who only seemed interested in getting our money and that didn’t work. Between behavioral issues and Wife getting pregnant, we couldn’t chance it with the dog and a baby. We finally gave up the dog. The day we went to the shelter, the room reserved for families who were surrendering their pooch was closed for repairs. Wife and I had a meltdown in the middle of the property as we said good-bye to our dog.

We got Another Dog

We thought we were done with dogs after that. We tried. We did our best to keep our house together despite pools of pee in various rooms and floors pulled up and chewed up. I honestly considered renting him out to demolition crews. He was efficient with that. Then one day, one of our children wanted a dog and did their due diligence online. They found a nearby shelter that had a dog that said child thought would be just perfect for our family. We agreed to go to the shelter to LOOK.

A dog laying down on a mat.  Chewed plastic behind her.
Doggie is tired after chewing… Or she knows she’s in trouble.

That was then. This is now. Now we know to leave things in the middle of the table. Now we know to make sure Doggie has a chew toy with her if we need to leave the room or house. Now we know not to leave valuable possessions (like notes for work) within her reach. Now I know to work upstairs where my work and I are safe from the canine’s canines. It’s fun. If you need any documents shredded, I can introduce you to our dog.

Lucky for me, Wife, and the rest of our children, things haven’t been that bad with this pooch. We have our challenges. Doggie can be a little over-aggressive at times. A lot of this comes from her still being a puppy. The younger children at our house, including the visitors, need to get away from her sometimes. Kitty needs to get away more often than that.

A dog sitting on a rug.
Good dog. Just ignore the paper and plastic pieces.

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Messages from Above and Beyond

I am a husband, a parent to five children, and a baseball coach. I take care of a dog and a cat. I help with homework and give driving lessons among other duties fulfilled. For all of these duties, some of the most exciting moments occur in my own home.

Wife and I try to keep a clean house. Some days are easier than others. Those easier days are usually when the Miracles of Christ are at school or the whole family is out of the house for the day on an excursion. We try to enlist the cherubs’ help from time to time, that’s easier than obtaining answers regarding discoveries Wife and I make around the abode.

King Tut's tomb, still sealed.
King Tut’s tomb. Almost as exciting as what we find at home.

You may already be familiar with the story of King Tut’s tomb. In 1923, an archaeologist named Howard Carter found the tomb and discovered what it contained. The discovery was magnificent in both archaeological and historical terms. The discoveries made that day in February of 1923 answered many questions and led to some new ones. The discoveries I make at home produce many questions but don’t answer much.

I go to one child’s room to wake them up in the morning. They have an alarm but they either sleep through it or just ignore it. On my way through the room to their bed, I notice several items laying around the room, usually in the form of empty cans. Thankfully, these empty cans are non-alcoholic, so it could be worse. Since these cans are actually in someone’s room, it’s hard for them to deny them or not now where they came from. Questions regarding this discovery usually produces answers such as, “Oh, yeah,” or, “Um, yeah. I was gonna get those.”

Open seltzer cans on a dresser in a bedroom.
They told me they were going to take care of these… a month ago.

Of course you were. Right after you finished your video game or the television show you started streaming for the tenth time this week. I’m sure it was right at the top of your list. Right after the mountain of laundry that’s been sitting there for weeks going on months, waiting for you to scale it. I’m sure it was just a matter of time. It’s not like you’re in the room sleeping all morning and you walk past them when you finally get up out of bed.

Other discoveries are a little difficult to pinpoint. These are the ones made in the living room, the dining room, and the kitchen. Upon entering these parts of the house, the visitor is met with random scraps plastic left from opening powdered drink mixes. No one can explain these mysterious phenomena. Empty chip and snack bags. Again, no one can explain this. Water bottles. Juice boxes. More miracles of God. Things people have certainly seen but weren’t around to witness the actual happening. “I don’t know.” “That was there when I got here.” I wonder if we’re on some sacred burial ground of an ancient civilization long forgotten and the spirits are somehow communicating with us with these objects and items randomly left about the house that trespasses on said sacred ground.

Food and crumbs on furniture.
Gifts for the gods.

Sometimes, there’s food and crumbs left with these mysterious packages. If you’ve seen the movie “Coco”, you know that people leave food for the spirits of their departed relatives. Maybe people in this house have been leaving food for the spirits. It’s also possible that people in this house are eating snacks and leaving crumbs but we don’t want to offend the gods, do we?

I’m not sure who to speak to about this. The Oppressed? The Gaggle? Discovery Channel? The Boy? Wife? National Geographic? I’m sure someone from PBS would love to know about these strange occurrences randomly taking place all over the house. Doggie doesn’t care where it’s coming from. She’s just happy to have an extra snack now and then. I wish these mysterious spirits wouldn’t leave so many signs. It’s hard enough for our dear children to clean the house as it is. Maybe that’s the problem. Maybe they really are cleaning but Ida Know and Not Me from “The Family Circus” are dropping by and leaving subtle reminders that they were here. This much I know: It couldn’t possibly come from our children.

A dog eating crumbs off furniture.
Not everyone in the house is upset about the crumbs.

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Walking Your Dog in the Morning

We’re all continuing to adjust to the added responsibilities Doggie has brought to us and our happy home. Being a puppy with a small bladder, she needs constant walking day and night. Ever the trooper, wife handles the overnight shifts. I’m gone; oblivious to the world. Wife once told me a story of one of our children climbing on me, crying, hitting me and screaming, “Dad!” I didn’t hear them. Didn’t feel anything. Wife asked, “Didn’t you hear anything?” Umm…. No.

I am, however, awake early in the morning bright eyed, bushy tailed, and ready to start the day. I spend these glorious mornings switching laundry, washing dishes, making coffee for me and Wife and pounding the keyboard about my glorious domestic exploits. So, as you read this, remember I woke up early to do this for you. You’re welcome.

If I am to take Doggie for a constitutional, I may or may not have one of the smaller children with me. There was one time The Boy and I were out to walk the dog around the block. There was some slight miscommunication as to how far we were actually going to walk. We both agreed we would walk around the block, but there happens to be a street that runs through the middle of our street. The Boy thought we were going to just walk around our half of the street but me being the taskmaster and architect behind the forced marches at Valley Forge and, closer to home, our own neighborhood after school, I decided we would walk the length of the entire block.

A boy and his dog. Photo by Sam Lion on Pexels.com

Keep in mind, this is the same Miracle of Christ who insists he doesn’t need a jacket in the middle of winter. I had Doggie. If the boy took her, I don’t think we’d ever see either of them again. I would miss the dog and would have to explain to wife what happened to The Boy.

We reach the intersection and The Boy is about to make a turn. I stop at the corner while Doggie sniffs curiously at a patch of grass or asphalt. Something incredible is down there and only she knows what it is. I call to The Boy and tell him we are walking the whole block. He eyebrows furrow. He looks at me with an open mouth. Do I not understand how cold it is? Of course I do. Why else would I invade his privacy everyday by telling him to put on a jacket. I’m not like other parents. I don’t love my children.

The Boy tells me we are curtailing this trek and heading home. It’s cold. There’s a YouTube channel that won’t watch itself. Why would I do this to him. Doggie hasn’t peed yet and I don’t want to clean the floor again. Plus, I’m still trying to work off the fruitcake that was calling my name and seducing me over the holidays. No excuses, says one of the child labor experts. It’s cold and he’s tired. My unfeeling ears hear none of this (They’re cold.) I tell him we need to walk the entire block. The Boy, in a fit of protest, sits down on the ground and removes his boots. Yes. Cold butt. Cold feet. That’ll show me.

We’ve now reached the point where I remind The Boy we could have been home already. He’s tired. He can’t do it. I need to carry him. I tell him I can’t I’m tired. He needs to carry me and walk Doggie.

What we did. (Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com)

The Boy picks up his boots and trudges onward. I’m imagining the story he’s going to have for his teacher at the next Zoom meeting. I interrupt my own train of thought to advise him to put his boots on. It might make his walk easier. After all, he did say he was cold.

What The Boy thinks we did. (Photo by Flo Maderebner on Pexels.com)

We get back home. Doggie has done her business. The Boy stomps his feet to the television where he basks in front of the warm glow of some mind-numbing drivel showing a walkthrough of Roblox or a Nintendo Switch game. As he thaws from the 30-minute session (five of which were actually spent walking), he curses my name and cruelty. He swears he’s going to be a better parent than me. Oaths are made. This resentment only lasts so long as someone, I won’t say who, but someone needs to read to him that night.

Cats and Dogs

There’s never a dull moment in our house. Me, wife, five kids, a cat, a dog… Oh, yeah. We got a dog.

I’m still not sure how this all came about. One of the children, I think, started talking about how nice it would be to have a dog. The Miracles of Christ don’t think we quite have enough going on in our house or in our lives. Between elementary school and high school, we have someone at home learning remotely five days a week. Wife is still working from home. Someone needs to go to school for a tutoring session at least two days a week. On top of that, there are the daily responsibilities of keeping the house clean. Now the children want to throw another pet into the mix.

We got a dog.

I reminded the children of the additional responsibilities that come with a dog, responsibilities that require getting out of bed before 11:00. No problem. They can do it. They will remember to feed the dog and walk the dog. These kids can’t remember to turn off a light when they leave a room but they’ll remember to take care of another animal.

It’s okay. They’ve got this. They’re going to take care of the dog. I voice my concerns, which are seriously considered by all before we start looking online for another member of our ever-growing family. We find a puppy at a local shelter. We sign up for our socially-distanced appointment. Before that, it’s off to the bank for a second mortgage and then the pet store where we buy up every dog supply the store has to offer. Wife and I are a little apprehensive now since there are no guarantees we will go home with a dog.

Who’s walking who?

We get the dog. Doggie hangs out in the office with wife where she whines and whimpers. Wife stops her business presentation to explain to the listeners we have yet another addition to the family and God forbid we don’t give her our undivided attention every waking moment.

Walking the dog is a treat. The dog fights us leaving the house and down the driveway and around the block. I’m trying to get Doggie to pee or poop. I don’t need to clean another mess in this house. Wife and I had a dog before. That dog took out three chew toys, five rugs, two mats, a bookcase, and the entire floor of one room. Some of these casualties are from chewing. Some are from peeing. Wife and I are especially vigilant about walking the dog.

We took Doggie to a check-up to make sure she’s healthy and alright. She has an ear infection. Fun times. The vet said we need to make sure her teeth are clean. The Oppressed has offered to share her toothbrush. I immediately vetoed that offer.

On the plus side, we have a fenced-in yard and our compost pile (We’re such good citizens of the Earth) is also fenced off. We have that to give Doggie a space to run around and expend some energy.

The family, especially the children are excited about this addition, especially one of the Gaggle, who has immediately adopted Doggie as yet another support animal. Speaking of support animals, Kitty is not pleased with this fellow four-legged creature. She is on alert every time she sees Doggie. Bristled fur, arched back, puffy tail. The whole bit. The truth is Puppy is just as scared of Kitty as Kitty is of Puppy. They’re both little timid animals who want protection from the other. What could possibly go wrong?

Doggie May Care

“Walkin’ the dog. I’m just a-walkin’ the dog.” – Rufus Thomas

My children are enterprising. They are constantly seeking new ways to be productive. Whether it’s a way to make money or a way to give back to the community, they are able to come up with ways to improve the world or save up for something they would like to buy.

The Oppressed is usually the one who comes up with these ideas. She thought it would be a great idea to have a lending library on our property. It has been a hit with people in our neighborhood and beyond. There is barely enough room to fit any more books sometimes. That’s when I make a few selections and make room for the next person who wants to come along and be generous. I help her help others.

The latest idea from The Oppressed was a dog-sitting service. Wife would see messages on social media from people looking for someone to take care of Spot or Fluffy for a period of time while they went away. They would come with their pooch a few days before the vacation so doggie and The Oppressed could get acclimated to each other. It seems like a good fit. Doggie returns at the set time for the actual visit and The Oppressed goes to work.

Wife and I help out at times with the dog. We have a little experience with keeping a dog. We had one a long time ago. This dog was a handful. He singlehandedly pulled up the floor on our porch. He chewed bookcases and clawed doors. I think we went through four rugs in our house because he kept peeing. I could go on and maybe I will in another installment of these fantastic adventures, but the point is that Wife and I are experienced when it comes to dealing with problem pets.

At least three dogs who have entered our house during this endeavor have left us presents at various times in various places in our house. One dog tried to mark his territory on a mesh-wire wastebasket. We’ve also had some other problems like a dog whose breath was so bad we could smell their breath from the opposite side of the room. I bought some dental chews hoping it would help things. It didn’t. The dog would want to lick us and we would have a stench on our legs or feet or whatever doggie was trying to lick. We felt bad about it but the dog smelled bad.

Small dog

I sometimes will join The Oppressed on a morning walk with the dog of the moment. It gives me a chance to get some exercise and talk to the Oppressed. Of course, nothing in going on and everything is great. The same story, by the way, with the older children. You’re obviously reading from half of the greatest parenting combo in the history of Parenting. Our kids are great. Nothing is wrong. They’re great. It’s obvious Wife and I are wonderful.

Of course, there was one time my status as wonderful, perfect parent may have come into jeopardy. In the middle of one night, one particular tenant was being restless and whimpering. Wife and I were woken up by the sounds of a pained pooch. I thought the dog maybe needed to be walked, so I got dressed and took the dog for a walk. This was a strong, good-sized dog and they posed some challenges for me as we saw a skunk up the street. I was able to hold on to the dog and save the both of us from getting sprayed. We returned home. The dog was still whimpering but not as much as before we left the house. Wife and I told The Oppressed about the midnight walk and she was most displeased when she found out I walked the dog without her. This, of course, was her job and she should have been included in this situation that had arisen in the middle of the night. I thought I was doing her a favor. I should have known better.

Big dog