This is the latest post in my Friday Blogging Experiment series, in which I seek to get away from the world of marketing and be rather…random. Enjoy!
About eight years ago we came into ownership of a chocolate lab named Shadow. Our previous dog had died and we ended up helping out some friends by buying Shadow from them. In fact, I came back from a trip and there he was: our new dog. At the time he was about eight months old. Super exuberant and very lovable. I’d always loved labs and never heard anything bad about them. But what no one had told me was that while most dogs are only puppies for the first year or two of their lives, labs are rather slow to outgrow that “childish” stage. Very slow.
One thing we learned quickly about Shadow was that while he was rather well behaved in most ways, he liked to eat things. I’m not talking in the way that some puppies gnaw on furniture as they are teething. He just liked to eat things. And early on, it was everything. And apparently this was one of the deep dark secrets that the Secret Society of Lab Owners didn’t like getting out, because after years of how wonderful labs were (“They are great with kids!” and “They love everyone!”), we suddenly became aware of this unspoken truth. Whenever we would tell someone about our dog that ate stuff, invariably we would get the reply,
“He’s a lab, isn’t he?”
Oh, so they have THAT kind of a reputation, do they? Why didn’t anyone ever tell us this? I’ll point out that we got Shadow right around the time the book Marley & Me was published, so we didn’t even that as a warning! All we heard before hand was how wonderful and cute they were.
The earliest indication of Shadow’s love of eating things usually revolved around paper. After training our kids well and working hard to place their napkins in their laps while eating, we had to quickly break them of that habit. Apparently a napkin in the lap was an invitation to shadow. He loves napkins. He would walk under the table, grab a napkin from some unsuspecting diner, and run out of the room to eat it. We even had to warn our dinner guests of this behavior. The love of paper early on also included tissues, both new and used (snatched from trash cans), and any newspaper you had left unattended. In fact, his love of the newspaper seemed to be directed mostly at those sections of the paper which we hadn’t had a chance to read yet.
Over time, he has lost interest in newspapers, but tissues and napkins are still fair game. Each morning when we take him on his two-mile walk, he keeps his nose to the ground, not to follow the scent of cats, rabbits, or other wildlife, but to find litter that people have left on the sidewalk. And we have to keep gates in front of the bathroom doors to keep him from emptying the trash cans while filling his belly.
And you know those tissue boxes that dispense the tissues one at a time? You pull the one out, and another pops out ready for the next user, right? These are like Pez dispensers for him: he grabs one and eats it, then goes back for the next one that pops up. And so on and so on.
Oh, but it’s not just paper. Early on there were a lot of other things he ate, most of which we weren’t aware of until we…uh…discovered them in the back yard after it had exited his body:
- a group of small plastic toy frogs
- a little alien toy
- rubber bands
When I saw the plastic frogs in the back yard, I remarked that I wish he hadn’t come with the name Shadow and that we could have named him ourselves. I would have called him Crackerjack, because there was a prize in every poop.
His eating of things wasn’t confined to just non-food items. He’s also stolen his fair share of food. We’ve learned (mostly) to keep all food out of his reach. If you walk around the house dangling a cookie or sandwich, you might as well just kiss it goodbye. He’s stolen food from all of us, and many of our guests. And because he’s a big dog, we have to keep things protected on the counter. His head is right around counter height, so anything he knows is there is fair game for him. If you’re making a sandwich and turn away for just a second, whatever you’ve left there might be gone.
Several years back we looked online for a way to prevent him from stealing our food from the counter, and found several people who recommended putting a small piece of lunch meat in a mouse trap and leaving them on the counter. The meat was to tempt him into trying to get it, and presumably the snapping of the mousetrap would be enough to scare him from doing it ever again.
Shadow sidled up to the counter, approached the lunch meat with the side of his mouth very carefully, and tugged until he got it out without ever setting off the trap. So much for good ol’ ingenuity!
Other foods that have fallen victim to Shadow’s appetite (and taken from the counter) include:
- entire sticks of butter
- nearly full pans of brownies
- loaves of bread still in the plastic wrapper
- every known type of meat
When he ate the loaf of bread in the plastic, we were a little concerned. After all, what exactly would happen to the bag? A call to the vet and we were told not to worry, that it would most likely come out…one end or the other. And sure enough, everything did come out the back end in due time.
Oh, and candy. Shadow loves candy. He has raided the kids’ rooms and consumed:
- full packages of chewing gum
- full packages of Twizzlers
- full bags of Hershey Kisses, still wrapped in the foil
Yeah, those last ones make for some interesting clean ups during dog walk.
Oh, and chocolate? Yeah, you’ve probably heard that it’s supposed to be poisonous to dogs. Well, despite all of the brownies and chocolate that Shadow has consumed, he has never even gotten sick from it, let alone keeled over. Apparently a dog his size (nearly 100 pounds) needs to consumer an awful lot of pure chocolate in order to feel anything.
I’m sure there are a lot of other things that Shadow has eaten during his more than 8 years on the planet, but that’s about all I could remember. Yeah, he’s a piece of work, but, he’s my dog, and I love him. He’s loyal, he’s lovable, he’s friendly. And boy is he adorable.
It just so happens that food is his love language. In fact, that picture you see at the very top of this post? I have a hard time getting photos of him because he rarely sits still, so I had to bribe him with food just to get that picture.
And sometimes when he’s bad, he makes up for it, and gives you one of these looks, and you melt. Just look at that face!
How about your dogs or other pets? Any interesting dietary habits?
- A Dog is a Child’s Best Friend: Comforting Newtown, CT (social.razoo.com)
- 5 Tips for Defining and Refining Your Blog Content Strategy (inklingmedia.net)
- Treat your blog like the dog that it is (billdorman.me)