Monday, December 5th, 2011
While growing up with dogs is nice – possibly even great, possibly even essential to one’s overall well being – it does not prepare you for the reality of living side by side with your very own canine. When I was a kid there were always at least two parents taking care of things like indoor bathroom accidents, food shopping, and swallowed tennis balls. I don’t have one single memory of lugging inside one of those 40 pound sacks of dog food or, for that matter, even feeding a dog. But I do remember helping my dad put together a system for locking trash in a kitchen closet and that, really, should have been my first clue about the existence of Destroyer Dogs. Ah, had I only had a business brain when I was nine, and I might yet be a millionaire today!
When I adopted my first dog, she was just a wee pup, one of a litter of four who had been turned into Washington, DC animal control. A tender, sweet package, she had the loveliest milk breath and deep, green knowing eyes. I wrapped her in a pink towel, and carried her out past her poor mother. The petite black German Shepherd had recently been separated from the pups, and her sadness registered with me even as my joy was overflowing, and I suspect she knew she would not make it out of her cement and steel final destination, watching her little Sage riding out to freedom in my arms.
Sage was almost perfect. She ate one pair of elegant, brown, low-heeled, incredibly comfortable but sexy Capizio shoes (damn, I miss those shoes!), sampled one book from my shelves, and ruined one carpet. And that was the end of it. The only other trouble she ever caused me (aside from ultimately leaving me for the great beyond) was when she nearly died from eating rat poison a neighbor had put out. I would wake up every 2 hours to take her pulse, check her breathing, and call the vet crying. But she lived to be 14 years old, a grand old lady, and was as lovely and soulful on her last day on earth as when I carried her tiny, soft mewing body out of the shelter.
In contrast, about ten years ago my neighbors adopted a similarly sweet and alluring puppy: 8 pounds of white fluff that looked more like an artic baby seal. This was their first dog. Good, I remember thinking, they will know such joy! Shelby, however, unbeknownst to anyone at the time, was a secret agent Destroyer Dog. Not six months into the process of raising her (way too late to back out of the deal), a brutal and unrelenting victimization of personal property began: underwear, shoes, socks, eyeglasses, moveable furniture, and a wide assortment of kitchen items were neutralized. One afternoon I walked up to let her out for her noonsies and found an entire bag of flour dumped, spread, and ground into the living room sofa. Her uncle nicknamed her “The Shelbinator”. Shelby has, sadly, become fixated on food alone, and while her amazing talents at opening any type of tin can (and consuming the content thereof on her mother’s bed) are remarkable in and of themselves, she has strayed from her original calling.
I used to quietly laugh at Shelby’s antics and think “man oh man, I’m sure glad I have a dog like Sage”. Never do that. OK, I was not exactly exulting in my neighbors’ distress at the quiet, slow destruction of their property, but I guess it seemed, well, kind of funny. Especially since it wasn’t happening in my house.
And then a year ago Sam arrived.
Sam is a 90 pound Anatolian Shepherd who is supposed to be out with the sheep, but prefers to lounge on my bed all day popping bon bons and reading trashy novels. He’s incredibly loving and loyal, and despite somewhat muddy paws, he is far less smelly and inconvenient a bed-warmer than any man I’ve ever known. But he’s a sneaky dude. Sam is a stealth destroyer. Nothing is safe around him, but he’ll never do anything untoward in front of you. 12 months later, and the casualties continue to mount: Five new pairs of shoes, some never even worn… Expensive prescription and dollar store reading glasses … Bags of wool and yarn, fresh laundry, dirty laundry, and, I’m sure you all were waiting for this one four different remote controls. I should be weeping. But here’s the thing: I think I’m sitting on a gold mine here. A brand new variety of working dog.
Working dogs, as you all know, are pretty well sought-after animals. They are animals who have special talents and native skills, high levels of intelligence, and offer a useful service. Border collies keep your sheep organized (and I’m here to tell you, you seriously do not want unorganized sheep). Hearing dogs let you know when someone is at the front door, so you can hide under the bed until they go away. Livestock guardian dogs work hard at protecting you from the livestock (if you visit Star Gazing Farm, Derry the Maremma will ensure that no ovines, bovines, or caprines molest you by vociferously chasing them off). Drug sniffing dogs know how to find the good stuff. It costs quite a lot of money to acquire and train these dogs, and so humans, often quite dense when it comes to valuing the lives of canines (“he doesn’t match my new carpet, so we’d better bring him to the shelter”), do grasp the concept of working dog=good.
What no one has heretofore patented, however, is the new category of working dog I seek to propose: Destroyer Dogs (TM) would be an invaluable asset to any community. I submit that a trained, certified Destroyer Dog would be so much in demand, we might well eradicate dog homelessness in America.
Just think of the possibilities: having a problem with your mean boss? Let a Destroyer Dog into the office over the weekend. Too much clutter in your house? Have the Destroyer Dog sort it out! Got a bored teenager at home? No more! A DD will keep adolescents so occupied that the texting companies might start lodging complaints. Moreover, Destroyer Dogs will offer countless employment opportunities in the maid service industry, thus generating jobs and improving the overall economy.
Now, when arriving home after a long day and not completely recognizing my living room, I can revel in the chaos, leaving behind my worldly cares, and should I (quite inappropriately) feel just a tad on edge about it, I simply say this mantra to myself: “destroyer dogs, destroyer dogs, destroyer dogs” and think dreamily about the day that my patent royalties start pouring in.
“Adults are just obsolete children. The hell with them.”
Till next time,
Star Gazing Farm 501(c)3
A haven for retired farm animals and wayward goats http://www.stargazingfarm.org
tel: (301) 349-0802