So now we live in a house where there is a danger zone. A zone which, when breached, results in anything below your knee being subject to an aggressive assault complete with growls, grunts, barks and bites. It extends from the front door, throughout the entire house. The zone excludes the upstairs study, because there is a baby gate in place there and it excludes the couches, chairs and beds (for now) because there is the small matter of legs being comprised almost entirely of paw and not nearly enough leg.
The puppy that patrols this zone is now well over ten kilos in weight and growing by the day. She seems to operate in cycles. There’s about an hour of frantic activity where the zone is patrolled looking for chewable artifacts. So that’s basically anything left lying about, including feet. The brown fluffy bear in the blog image is taking a hit because he wasn’t able to get on the bed in time. This phase of activity is followed by a cool down phase where she’s still alert, but not actively patrolling the zone probing it for points of weakness. She can however be coaxed into action by one filling the cat’s bowl with kibble or indeed by the cat simply making an appearance from the other dimension she hides herself in during the puppy’s activity cycles. Finally there is a genuine rest period where sleep decends on the little creature and her ears cover her face while she snores and chases the cat around in her dreams.
As an aside, I’m not sure she’s going to make much of a guard dog. Her nose is acutely sensitive and can smell food from anywhere on the property and in any tense. But her long flappy ears, which if frozen over could function like wings on a glider, seem to be quite effective at blocking out sounds. Especially those sounds uttered in high pitched voices screaming words like ‘No’, ‘Stop it’, ‘Bloody hell’, ‘Ow’, ‘Ouch’, ‘Dammit’ and ‘Outside’.
She has several of these cycles in a day and interposed with them are three separate feeding times. Aside from the opportunistic pillaging she does in the cat’s bowl, she gets around 200 grams of puppy science diet a day spread over three installments. She supplements that with other foods from a range of food groups like fluff from pillows or plush toys, the odd piece of Lego, slippers and wellingtons, the bases of couches and beds and of course anything that you happen to drop on the floor in her presence be it animal, vegetable or mineral.
We’ve managed to teach her to ‘sit’. Though really, on its own, that’s not such a prodigious skill for her to have learnt to execute on command. Sure she sits, but then the moment you break eye contact with her, she launches herself at your shoes, pants, socks, feet, shins, calves whatever. I think we should probably have started with ‘stay’ as the first command for her to learn. Hindsight being 20/20, that would have been infinitely more useful. We could then have, for instance put her in her bed, said ‘stay’ and then operated normally while we got on with supper, breakfast, dressing, showering etc.
Instead we find ourselves constantly warding her off with foot shakes and shrieks of ‘no’. Actually, I’m beginning to think she’s probably confused about her name at this point, we say it so often, it might as well be ‘no’. The little guys have taken to operating like they’re lost boys in Neverland. They dart from the safety of the couch to the table or bed. It’s almost as if they’re using happy thoughts and fairy dust to fly around the house.
Fortunately, night time is sleepy time and after supper, she usually settles in for the night and can be transferred to our bed with one quick comfort break detour outside on the way. Did I forget to mention she sleeps on our bed? Yes. In the mornings, we now have a mom and dad, two imps and a Bassett Hound all crammed into a queen-size bed. On the plus side, it is an extra-length bed, that I was tall enough to have warranted, but only my feet sleep comfortably. The rest of us are left with unenviable choices like, do I move the dog from a perpendicular position in the bed to a parallel one and run the risk of her waking up thinking playtime has just started, or do I vasbyt and endure the knots in my back and cramps in my legs. It’s a tough call sometimes.
Lately we’ve been palming her off onto the bed of the little guy who seems so have developed a special bond with her that not even the Mom (who is the main feeder) has. One night last week I found him sitting up in bed, at midnight, staring at her – she was snoring with her ears over her face. I couldn’t quite figure out if he’d woken up to find her there and decided to watch her sleep or if he’d woken up to find her there and was waiting for her to leave. The little guy is somewhat mercurial in that way.
She is, in a word, Armageddon for the garden. Recently landscaped, our garden was slowly growing into itself much like a child growing into an outfit bought two sizes too big. Now there are patches off once pristine roll-on lawn that have huge trenches carved into them that could easily support another trench war the likes of WWI. Every single plant she exhumes is shredded and the pieces put on display on top of the pool cover (which incidentally she uses like a trampoline). She has a bottomless appetite for destruction of property. She’s a force of nature on the scale of say a tornado or a flash flood.
The dog has also, through no fault of her own, introduced a new problem we have to resolve – and soon. She’s been using the cat flap to get in and out of the house. This has been a boon to us but now she’s gotten so big the flap has been knocked off the door and what remains is a gaping hole through which the winter weather freely makes its way into our kitchen. This is not a superfine thing. To make matters worse, she hasn’t stopped growing yet and I’m quite sure that we’re going to come home one day to find her wedged in the door, indignantly barking at the world and then we’ll have to revert to a manual entry and egress system that will be far less convenient. One option is to make the hole bigger and get a new flap for it but that brings with it its own problems. The cat, for whom the flap was originally installed was never exactly brimming with the initiative required to actually open the flap on her own and I suspect will be much less inclined to do so going forward, if we install a larger flap. Leaving the flap open permanently doesn’t sound like such a great way to keep the house warm in winter either.
That said, to backpedal at this stage and try convince the dog she’s not in fact a human and belongs outside during the day (in a dog house if the weather is lousy) seems like a bridge too far given the whole ‘sleeps in the bed’ thing.
In a word….conundrum.