Lessons in unconditional love often come from our furry friends. They tend to test us, especially when they have excited barfing problems and issues with people wearing hats — or people who are afraid of them that they feel compelled to bark at and make it worse. I have no children, but this little devil is the closest thing to them, and boy does she test the boundaries sometimes.
Due in part to the fact that we’ve created a cuddly monster who lives in our house and gets away with far more than she should, Dexter sometimes steps over the line from adorable to evil, and boy oh boy did she do it this week. This post is a story of
rage patience and is also an excuse to show you more pictures and video of Dexter. #Dexterlove. (Side note: I might be starting a Dexter tumblr. If you have an opinion on this, please leave it in the comments!)
I have been furious at Dexter to the point of nearly seeing red exactly twice. The first time was a few years back when we were experimenting with allowing her to hang out alone in the house uncrated. She’d had a few run-ins with couch cushions, which were frustrating but repairable, but one day, she took it to the next level. She went upstairs, jumped on our brand new Keetsa mattress (the kind that you can’t flip over), dug a hole in it, and peed in the hole.
Yes, she did that. In fact, here’s a picture of it. The little jerk tore right through the sheets too.
I was gone for less than an hour. I had to run to the store just a couple of blocks away to get one thing, and I came home to find chunks of our brand new memory foam mattress strewn all over the bed and floor, some of which were soaked with pee.
I was ready to MURDER her — completely lost it. I yelled, I screamed, I pushed her face in it and said, “NO!” even though I know that doesn’t work and you’re not supposed to do that and she probably had no understanding of why I was so upset. I didn’t care, I was furious. I had no self-control whatsoever, no ability to be reasonable and recognize that she’s just a dog and sometimes dogs do things they shouldn’t do. At the time, she was only 2.5 years old. We might have been a little optimistic thinking she was ok to leave uncrated… back in the crate she went.
I ended up spraying down the hole itself and all the foam chunks with Nature’s Miracle (affiliate link), letting it all dry out, stuffing everything back in, and using the fabric from a Keetsa pillow (which matched the mattress) to sew it up. It’s my side of the bed and I sleep on it every night. Anyway, that was the first time I wanted to strangle this adorable smooshy creature.
The second time, I was a little more in control of my rage, even though this offense was almost equally horrifying. Now that she’s 5 years old and has figured out how to use the doggy door, Dexter has been staying home alone a few days a week with total success.
Until this weekend…
As you know from the various posts I’ve shared about gardening, it brings me great joy and fulfillment to be able to create a beautiful, edible landscape around my house. It’s fun, it’s outside, it’s manual labor, it’s creating food for our family, and it requires problem-solving skills, patience, and persistence. I’ve also learned a LOT about how to grow food. It’s a huge part of my and my husband’s lives and a big source of happiness for us. Lucky for Dexter, we’ve covered most of the property with edible plants, so this one major offense didn’t devastate our entire supply, but it was a doozy to say the least.
Dexter started her acts of terror on Friday when she jumped into our large two-tiered planter box and went to town on the dirt and plants in the front. She dug frantically (the only way she knows how) leaving huge holes and killing about 12 plants, including onions, red lettuce, and chard. We cleaned that up, added a few barriers for her (which have been successful EVERYWHERE ELSE IN THE GARDEN!), and when we left her for a few hours on Sunday, she jumped over the barriers and dug up everything she’d missed the first time, including our super productive green bean plants that have been going strong all summer and probably had at least a month left in them.
That was the kicker.
The green beans did me in. Fury, rage, incredulity that this dog who will literally not step over a 1-foot barrier anywhere else in the yard would LEAP over a 3 food barrier to further destroy things — it was all too much. I was ready for someone to take her away forever! We tried to get her to go near the destruction and spray her with a water bottle so she’d associate the two. Not sure if that’s the right thing to do, but we tried it. We put up a little baby gate thing so that the next time we leave her home, she can get outside along the side of the house but not into the back yard where all the food is.
Life Lesson: How to avoid murdering your dog
For my own satisfaction but certainly not to teach her anything she was capable of learning, I gave her the silent treatment for about an hour. She knew I was mad, but surely not why. She hid between the coffee table and the couch and looked up at me every time I passed by, and I tried not to look back. (This is after I stared her down shamefully upon seeing the destruction.) After a few passes, I looked. And there she was, being cute. My heart softened. I couldn’t help it. I mean, look at her. She’s ridiculous looking! So here’s how I handled not murdering my devilish little dog:
- Stare down from hell.
- Silent treatment for an hour.
- Succumb to the cuteness and finally hug her while saying mean things in a cute voice that she’ll never understand, such as
- “I’m going to take you to the kill shelter you little weenie!”
- “Why do you have to be the worst cutest dog ever?”
- “What is wrong with your little dumb brain that you could do that?”
- “Why do you have to look like this? I’d just give you away if you didn’t look like this.”
- “You’re lucky I’m still gonna feed you.”
You get the idea. Obviously, this is not advice for parenting humans. 🙂 It might not even be advice at all actually, just what I did to make myself feel better. It might be weird, but it definitely helped (as making a joke out of something crappy usually does), and I was able to avoid raging on her like I have in the past. I’d call that progress.
Dexter might be 5 years old, but she still has the energy of a puppy, and will often completely freak out when we get home. Here’s an example. Enjoy!
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