Anyone with a pet has no doubt had a “You’ve got to be fucking kidding me” moment when you walk in the door to some ‘gift’ that your pet has left you on the floor.
My first “grown up” dog (i.e., one I bought and had on my own in college), Kylie (to the right) had this way of telling me that I’d been spending too much time away from home… She’d go into my laundry basket and drag a pair of underwear (no, not clean ones) into the middle of the living room. Mind you she never chewed them up or did anything destructive — it was just an embarrassing reminder that she was in fact there and was not amused. Fair enough.
And then, when she was 6 I decided that she needed a friend and so Xander entered our lives. Oh… Xander. Please, don’t get me wrong, I love my little bug but I just wasn’t sure he was going to survive the first year to 18 months of his life. Xander has separation anxiety issues — he’s “mommy-fied”. He’s never been abandoned (and I should know, I’ve had him since he was 6 weeks old) nor had any major life traumas… he’s just a needy little boy.
Aside from chasing the little monster around the neighborhood and reminding him of what his name was AND that he could hear, one of Xander’s first loves was chewing electrical cords. He would play tug of war with the electrical socket and unplug the cord and once he inevitably won that game, he would proceed to chew the cord into 8 jillion little bits. And trust me, there are only so many ways to hide your electrical cords in the house AND I am not a fan of stuffing dogs into crates for 6 or 7 hours at a time after they’re initially house trained….
I tried using bitter apple and that just seemed to titillate the intrigue of the game. I even tried creating my own concoction of anything nasty spicy that I had in the house to no avail. He wouldn’t go near them when I was home, but as soon as I left … game on! Finally, because I was sure that I was going to come home one day to an crispy dog who had electrocuted himself, the only thing that I could figure out to do (and trust me… we went through many training recommendations) was just to spank him with the electrical cord (look — calm yourself … not really my first option but I thought that was better than peking pooch) to create a negative association with the cord. After a few days, it worked. It took about 3 years before I could pick up an electrical cord without him ducking and covering, but the dangerous habit was broken.
After that came Xander’s venge poop stage. He could have been walked and pooped a couple of times, but as soon as I would leave, he would leave me a gift on the floor. When I would come home, he’d be sitting in my entry way looking kind of like he does here, but probably a bit more pathetic (as if that is possible) as if he were saying, “Yes, I know I’m an asshole… I just can’t really help it”.
After the venge poop stage came the next 9 years (and he’s 11 mind you) of trash search and destroy. As soon as we’re out of the house, Xander looks for what he can get into and in the first 5-10 minutes goes destructo-dog if there’s been anything left in his path. Here’s the thing… after 11 years of living with the little beast, I’ve gotten pretty darned good at knowing what he can get into and clearing the path so that there’s nothing to destroy (remember, he doesn’t destroy the house, just anything like trash that creates a mess… it’s not about damage, it’s about annoyance 🙂 ) but sometimes the little shit gets me.
Today was one of those days. I went around the house and moved everything that I thought he could get to out of his way (e.g., put the bathroom trash in the tub) and went out for the day. I come home and walk into my room to find … the trash bag that had been 3 1/2 feet off the floor on a window sill emptied and exploded around the room (paper bits mostly). The little monster jumped up on the chair and then had to teeter dangerously (especially for the 11 year old heart patient) on the arm of the chair to even reach the bag of trash and knock it onto the floor before the feast of ripping goes. How do I know it’s him and not Dani? Easy — Dani doesn’t jump and is scared of heights — it was Xander.
As I had a few choice words for him, I remembered the site I’d come across a week or so ago of dog shaming via Facebook (of course) and it was an epiphany. What a beautiful way to make myself feel better before I had to pick stuff up… name and shame baby, name and shame. And now — anytime that Xander’s bad – he will be shamed. It’s delightful! If only I’d known about it for the last 11 years… All I can really say is that damn it feels good!