For Christmas, 2008, I gave my wife two puppies. Arrangements had to be made early, but my sons and I kept it a secret. When I told my sons I was getting her two puppies, my youngest son questioned if this was a wise and logical decision. I assured him it was neither. And, I was correct.
As with all young pets, there are many adjustments that need to be made, and a lot of early training necessary: some for us and some for the dawgs. House-training (breaking) is essential for any pet allowed indoors, and you can get up to speed on that process if you work at it. “Teething” is a different matter. It seems that puppies get a new set of teeth about four or five times a day, and will do so for the rest of their lives! They chew on everything.
Now, landscaping timbers are treated by a soak in arsenic which is to deter termites from eating them. It has no effect on puppies. They love those timbers almost as much as they love the shrubbery. While there’s plenty of puppy chow available (high dollar stuff); chew toys and bones…the kind that has been treated with scents and flavors irresistible to dogs, they prefer to test their teeth on other things.
They prefer sticks, rocks, my wife’s shoes, the laundry, hickory nuts, acorns and pine cones when furniture legs and sections of my house that don’t seem out of reach. Green plants are also objects for teething projects and peeing practice. I don’t care to chew on the shrubbery personally, and couldn’t pee that much if my life depended on it. But dawgs can, and do. Maybe it’s some kind of practice, or a fire drill in case one of my cigars were to get loose, I don’t know.
Primary objects of this affectionate attention seem only to be the valuable things such as lawn furniture, and expensive or hard to replace plants. Weeds fear no notice whatsoever which I guess is a good thing: without weeds I’d have no lawn left at all.
Deterrents short of electrocution have been tried. Tabasco sauce and cayenne pepper failed to throw them off their targets, so I went to a pet store, and asked the advise of a retailer. He recommended a product called “Bitter Yuck”, so I bought a spray bottle of it. The clerk (up for salesman of the month, I’m sure) guaranteed it would work. It is supposedly very bitter and even a small taste of it would curl your lips inside-out. Well, the dawgs love it, and I believe they’d ask that I spray it directly onto their food if they could muster up use of a language other than: “Hey! Hey,hey, hey, hey!”
They are kennel-trained, however. That means they go into their little doggy houses to sleep. But before they can sleep, it is protocol to take their mattresses out to a muddy section of the yard and pull the stuffing out of them with their teeth and scatter it all around. Bits and pieces of white mattress stuffing are now a part of our landscape architecture. It appears to have snowed this late in the spring. The neighbors think this is remarkable, and so they do remark.
When we first got the pups, we kenneled them regularly so they’d get used to it. The first day they spent together in a kennel it occurred to them to give each other a poop-bath. There are better kinds of baths to be had. They considered the options, and soon decided they would give up all baths of any kind altogether. I figure they gave it up for Lent. To this day, it is hard to get them to come to you if they hear water running.
Besides chewing, those puppies have another hobby. They are fixated and fanatical about placing land mines directly in the pathways where I (or any intelligent pedestrian) would want to walk. It is almost as if they have done some kind of study of ergonomics, for their positioning is without error. Their hobby has proven to be inspirational in reviving one of my old hobbies: close order drill with a shovel.
I can fuss about it; I can waive my arms in the air, yell and spit fire, but to no avail. They seem to take no notice of my irritation: the dawgs are always glad to see me, which is an improvement over the neighbors. My neighbors are…remarkable.