A few weeks ago we headed north to visit our daughter and two young grandchildren. We were eagerly anticipating seeing their new home and were also looking forward to meeting a recent addition to the family, a chocolate Labrador puppy.
Somehow, when my daughter mentioned the word puppy over the phone I had imagined a cute little ball of fur, I was therefore in for a bit of a surprise when we opened the gate of the old homestead and were greeted by a deep-throated woof followed by the thundering of large paws galloping over wooden floor-boards. The front door was opened by our diminutive four-year-old grandson and from somewhere in the upper reaches of the house I could hear a muffled voice yelling “Don’t let the dog out!” Too late. A dark brown, long legged creature came bounding out and my husband and I both staggered back as it leapt up to welcome us to the family home.
C came hurrying out followed by the Princess of the family holding a Barbie doll with one leg and most of its hair missing. There was the usual exchange of hugs and kisses while the dog tried to join in, tangling itself in our legs and barking joyously. We were ushered inside and the Princess held out the doll for my inspection.
“Look what Hunter did!” she said.
Her younger brother, not to be outdone, produced a headless Action Man with only one arm.
“Yes,” C explained somewhat wearily. “I’d advise you not to leave your purse lying around. The dog’s liable to eat it.”
“I thought you said he was a puppy.”
“Well, technically he is. He’s only six months old. He’s still got some growing to do.”
I shuddered and winced as ‘the puppy’ bounded back into the room and promptly threw up a pair of the Princess’s Hello Kitty underwear, fully intact.
“See what I mean,” C sighed, more in sorrow than in anger. “He ate one of my new Gucci boots yesterday and finished off the meal with M’s Spider Man sandals.”
Later, when the others had gone off to explore the surrounding countryside, I sat, the dog laying across my feet, gazing at an assortment of half-chewed toys and mutilated furniture.
“Did you really do all this?” I asked. It was hard to believe that one animal could wreak so much havoc.
The dog gazed up at me with soulful eyes and shrugged its massive shoulders. “Well, you know how it is when you get the urge. You just can’t help yourself can you,” he said apologetically.
“Absolutely!” I replied. “I can understand where you’re coming from. I’ve been known to scoff half a bag of Lindt chocolate truffles at one sitting but it’s not quite the same thing as gnawing on hubby’s best New Balance or taking a bite out of his jockey shorts, is it.”
“No, I suppose not,” he agreed, sinking his teeth into a nearby tennis ball.
“Don’t they give you anything else to chew on? What about this thing?” I picked up an enormous rawhide bone and tossed it across the room where it landed with a dull thud.
Hunter thumped his tail half-heartedly, got up and retrieved it, laying it at my feet. “I don’t know. There’s just not the excitement in it. Forbidden fruit and all that,” he added.
“Well try and make an effort, there’s a good boy. I’d hate to see you get the old heave-ho.”
“OK, Ma,” he agreed, waggling his eyebrows roguishly. “I’ll give it my best shot but I can’t make any promises.”
The next few days passed without any further mayhem and on the morning of our departure we gathered to say our goodbyes. I was beginning to think my little heart-to-heart with the dog had payed off.
“Remember what I said,” I whispered to the capering canine as we sat drinking one last cup of coffee. He gave a lop-sided grin and gazed up at the ceiling. At that moment littlest grandson put in an appearance wearing his cowboy hat and Super Heroes underwear. Climbing on his rocking horse he prepared for an early morning round-up and with a cheery “Yee hah!” tipped forward and rocked back. And he kept going backwards. The rockers at the rear of the horse had been chewed away sometime during the night.
The dog coughed up a few fragments of wood and wagged his tail. Oh well, you can’t win them all.