As you may have read in some of my other posts (‘Bras, Scarves and Sibling Rivalry‘, ‘Why I am Googling ‘can drinking reed diffuser refills kill you?‘ and ‘Arggghhh! Back to School!”) I love my dog.
I mean really love her. She thinks I am wonderful, and will pine by the door when I leave the house. We bought her as a puppy from Kimberlenes Labradoodles where all of their puppies look like this.
As both Daughter and Son suffer with bad eczema, which is affected by pet hair, we had to be as certain as possible what kind of fur the puppy would have. Of course there are no guarantees, but at Kimberlenes we met every single one of Dog’s relatives and allowed Daughter and Son to gambol amongst them.
Rob and I had researched carefully before deciding on a Labradoodle. Not only can their fur (or fleece) be good for children with allergies, they are well known for having gorgeous, placid and fun loving temperaments and are great with children.
I fell in love with that picture of the Kimeberlenes puppies but, to be honest, Dog wasn’t quite as cute and fluffy as those in the pictures. I hate to say it, and would NEVER say it to the children or Dog but… whisper… she was the second from the bottom runt of the litter.
When we visited, there were three puppies left of the litter. One was an absolute no no – he was male and I wanted a female – and he was absolutely tiny with a face like a bored teenager. Of the other two, Dog was less pretty than her sister but went crazy when she saw the children and was so friendly and bouncy we fell in love with her straightaway.
Now she is three and since she joined the family she has proved to be friendly, patient, and loving with the children. They would constantly dress her up and she never complained.
Before getting Dog, I made the children read as many puppy care manuals as possible. We learned there is a period of time when dogs are young and very trusting. They are happy to approach anyone and anything with interest. I think it’s about a six week window where you have to try and give your dog as many experiences as possible, including meeting all kinds of different people and animals. You can find these checklists all over the web.
We were on it like a car bonnet: groups of children at a playground – check; men, women and children in hats – check; people on bikes – check; people from different cultural backgrounds (didn’t want a racist dog) – check; people in wheelchairs – check; people in uniform – check. The list went on and by the end of six weeks we felt very smug that we had helped Dog become a calm warm and happy creature, a friend to all.
Unfortunately we forgot three important categories: Horses, people on crutches, and Dwarfs.
We realised this when, one day in town, the cast of the local theatre’s pantomime paraded down the high street. Dog went absolutely ballistic. Barking, jumping up, whining. She went mad!
I couldn’t work out why until I realised she was trying to leap upon the seven dwarf actors who were walking past smiling and waving, casting nervous glances at my previously docile dog.
Dog has subsequently had the same reaction to horses and anyone on crutches. I dread to think what she’d do if she came across a horse-riding dwarf with a broken leg.
Well we tried out best. Sigh.
So there are loads of great things about Dog – she greets me at the door as if I’m a soldier returning from war whether I’ve been gone for ten minutes or three hours. Every. Single. Time. She lies on my feet and does this great huffing sigh which makes me really happy. She runs like a joyful horse and will come and put a paw on your knee if you are sad.
There are also a number of things she does which drive me absolutely nuts. Here are five of them.
1. Chewing Through Leads
Oh My God this was so infuriating. Dog went through a stage of chewing leads. Over a period of about a year and a half I bought so many leads I could have run a sado-masochistic club all by myself.
These are just some of the leads I bought – and trust me, those flexi ones were not cheap. As you can see by these photos, between 2015 and 2016 I bought 6 leads from Amazon. I also bought a number from local pet shops.
See the chain one I bought? You’d think that would have been it, wouldn’t you? Ha! No. You’d be wrong. Dog just chewed through the handle.
One year, there were at least three or four occasions when we would be sitting in a lovely country pub, having taken the dog for a long walk, and I would be feeling very smug thinking, what a well-behaved dog I have! Look how good she is sitting quietly under the table!
Until PPEEEOOOOOWWWWW! Off she would run like a greyhound at a race. Shooting out from under the table, leaving the sad straggles of the chewed lead behind her, she would bounce happily over to the customers at the other end of the bar to investigate what they were eating and whether she could have some.
It would be so bad that I once had to hand her over to a dog walker using ROB’S TIE because she’d eaten through all of her leads and I hadn’t a chance to get a new one. Oh the embarrassment.
One good thing that came out of it was I came up with an ingenious idea to solve two problems in one.
Hairbrushes don’t last long in our house. I probably buy one a month and they just get eaten by the piles of crap my children generate. I also hated throwing away the chewed leads as it seemed such a waste. So this is what I did!
From top left to right: 1. The problem, a broken retractable lead. 2. Hairbrush – an endangered species in my house. 3. Dog trying to eat the lead and collar whilst I was taking picture. 4. Connect lead to hairbrush. 5. Put lead in drawer. 6. Shut drawer with hairbrush on top so hairbrush cannot get lost! Genius!
So something good came out of this nightmare.
2. Eating Balloons
OK so she’s only done this twice, but each time it caused such worry and heartache I thought it deserved a mention.
You know the kind of thing. Children’s parties etc, at a certain stage of your life you find that you have bags of balloons all over the place.
Well, for some reason, Dog found them fascinating. The first time we didn’t even know she had eaten them. But boy, did we get a surprise when we took her for a walk.
It certainly livened up picking up poop, but I was most alarmed to find a multi-coloured addition to Dog’s um.. deposit.
We rushed her to the vet, where Dog lay on the table with a dorky smile on her face. The vet couldn’t find anything wrong so suggested we took her home. He advised us to COUNT THEM ALL BACK OUT!
What a job. But we worked out she’d eaten a pack of 20, and dutifully counted them as they came back out. That was another fun meeting with the dog walker who I had to ask to ‘ah, look out for Dog pooping any balloons – oh and can you count them for me?’
3. Pancake Greed
Dog is the greediest creature – apart from me and my grandmother – I have ever known. Whenever we leave food in the kitchen, even if for a second, Rob and I automatically do things like this…
to protect it from the Dog. Once, most memorably, I was enjoying a large ham baguette in a pub garden. As you may have read, I am blind in my right eye. Dog has already worked this out. As I was chatting to Rob, waving my right hand (which was holding the baguette) as I talked, Dog managed to snarf the whole thing in one gulp. I was so cross as I had been low-carbing for months and was really looking forward to that sandwich.
So we come to Shrove Tuesday. This was before I had cottoned on to Dog’s sneaky, greedy ways. I had prepared all the ingredients for the pancakes to make that evening for the children.
I had to pop out to do the school run and returned to discover Dog had eaten half a bag of flour, a pack of butter and 12 eggs. Twelve Eggs. INCLUDING the box.
So not only did we have to go without pancakes, we spent the whole evening on the edge of our seats periodically shouting – ‘she’s going to go again! QUICK! Get her outside!’
My favourite dog greed story was told to me by a friend of mine. She had a dog who loved eating tights. On one awful occasion the dog started to poop out the tights but they seemed to get stuck. My friend stepped onto the foot of the tights that had just reached the floor. Dog then shot off across the field and the tights seemed to stretch between them for miles before eventually popping out.
4. Pooping in a clockwork circle.
Now I don’t know why Dog does this. Most of the time she poops perfectly normally. But whenever we go for a walk and she sees a stranger on the horizon, particularly a judgmental stranger with well-behaved dogs, she will poop in a perfect circle – moving from 1 o’ clock round to 12 if you get my drift.
She does it with great care and concentration, marking each hour with a beautifully shaped nugget. People have actually stopped and stared with their head on one side saying, ‘is she pooping… around the clock?’
Circling the dog with my poop bag, waddling in a crouch, desperately trying to pick it all up as quickly as possible, I would smile and nod. Red faced and sweating I would swear under my breath, whilst Dog serenely and smoothly continued her way towards 11 o’ clock.
5. Her obsession with the knees of my son’s pyjamas (and burping)
Two years ago, shortly after Dog’s arrival, I noticed Son’s pyjamas were getting a bit ragged. To begin with, I assumed he was ripping his pyjama trouser leg as he got into the top of his bunk bed. When I remembered, I kept checking the bed to see if there was a nail sticking out. Nothing.
More pyjamas were appearing with holes in so I checked the bed again. Nothing. I asked Rob to check and he couldn’t see anything either. I kept throwing away pyjamas so often I eventually would only buy the cheapest ones I could find in Primark.
It took me ages to figure out what was going on. It was one of those mysteries which lingered at the back of my mind, only coming to the front when Son went to bed and I’d think – for the millionth time – what IS he doing to those pyjamas?
I would then forget all about it until the next night… ‘What IS he doing to those pyjamas?’ I would think again, and then forget again.
So it turns out Dog likes to nibble on Son’s knees. But only when he is in pyjamas. She doesn’t try it with jeans or tracksuits.
I asked him why he let Dog do this and he just shrugged. I’m not sure he was listening.
Dog is also the only dog I have known who burps like a human.
Proper, rich belches. Often, she will be gazing into my eyes with a serious, intent look of love, my heart warms, what a lovely dog. And that’s when she does it. She lifts her head, swallows, and burps. Right in my face. And trust me. It’s not a good smell.
If you’re on your own it can be quite disconcerting. Dog likes to lie with her head under the sofa. I forget she’s there until a whiffly, rumbling burp bubbles out and I have to take a moment to realise it’s not a burglar with indigestion creeping up on me but a windy Dog.
Once on a long walk I got my own back by breaking wind so loudly and unexpectedly (we were completely on our own I hasten to add) Dog not only jumped into the air in fright, but looked around with fearful, racing eyes; so I got my own back.
Do you have a dog? Does it behave like this? Is it a Labradoodle thing or are they all like this? Has yours ever eaten anything they shouldn’t? Please tell me I’m not the only one!