Sunday, June 15, 2008

Homewrecker

So I still have Pigpen the Boxerbeast. He's currently eight months old and I've managed to keep him alive since December, a miracle considering that my previous record for sustaining life is a tie between a packet of sea monkeys* and a now-withered tangle of brown tendrils that may have once been a geranium.**

Fig. 1: Pigpen, aka Mister Pigglesworth

Before The Pig, my only previous animal-ish experience was in the 8th grade with a trio of goldfish that were an impulse buy at Wal-Mart. Read that sentence again. I purchased pets at a store that also sells belt sanders and beefaroni. They'd been in my care less than a week before they offed themselves, leaping out of the bowl to their deep-pile carpeted demise. I got home from school, walked into my room and found them on the floor, all three staring at me with the kind of vacant, unblinking expression I wouldn't see again until I started watching The Hills. My mother, ever resourceful, wrapped them in aluminum foil and placed them in the freezer until she could take them back to the Wal.

Two days later, she marched to the customer service counter with the still-frozen goldies and demanded a refund, deeming the fish defective. I can't imagine that there's any sort of quality control for creatures that cost less than a Big Mac, but she un-foiled the fish, flashed her receipt, and got three bills back.

The transaction finished, she wrapped them back up and handed the mentally unstable fish to the mentally unstable Customer Service rep who placed the foil-wrapped bundle in the pocket of her blue vest like they were loose change or starlight mints.

We did not replace them.

Anyway, I still have this dog and he's still determined to systematically destroy everything I own. I used to have a very nice leather sofa whereas now I have an incredibly shitty leather sofa. He's unintentionally shredded the cushions with his claws, so it looks like I spend my weekends getting freaknasty with Freddy Krueger. I read online that I could repair all of the scratches with olive oil so the sofa got EVOO'ed last night***. It looks marginally better but my entire living room now smells like Olive Garden. When you're here, you're family! Which means I'll probably ask you for money.

ANYWAY, yesterday morning my eyes snapped open at 4:45 when he planted a paw in my earhole. We took a long pre-dawn walk, I cooked him breakfast with no hog, then I went for my run. I came home to this bit of performance art:

He managed to rip his bed into a worthless cumulonimbus of cotton and corduroy. Then he peed on it, as if to say "Don't even try duct taping this back together, bitch".

This is not the first bed he's ruined--not even the first one this week****--but it was the last one I had. Several hours later when it was worky work time, I robbed a mat from the guest bathroom and placed it in his crate, thinking "surely he can't wreck this". I was wrong.

R.I.P. Bath Mat. You were absorbent but not immortal. And I'm sorry that you, too, were peed on.

What can I do? I feel horrid leaving him locked up all Gimp-like, but the one time I experimented with unsupervised playtime, I learned that he can't be trusted. He chewed a chunk out of the door, shat on the ottoman, and shredded the latest issue of Men's Health, literally licking Mark Wahlberg's face off...although I can't fault him for that last one. I was going to do the same thing.

But, for reals, what am I doing wrong?? We walk at least 90 minutes a day spread over a couple of outings and a couple of nabes, so people don't assume we're homeless. He has plenty of toys that I rotate so he doesn't get bored, although he currently digs dryer sheets and my bras, probably because they're both the same size.

I remain hopeful that Cesar "D-Whisp" Millan will read this and if he's not shopping for pleated khakis or, uh, whispering, he'll swing by and solve things.

Until then, maybe I'll try again with the fish.

* At least I think they were sea monkeys. It could've just been a dirty glass.
** Or it may be Joan Rivers. I'm not sure.
*** I mistakenly told someone that I'd spent my Saturday night "rubbing some extra-virgin on the furniture" and they gave me a look that straddled confusion and pity.
**** He ripped up his bed when he was at the kennel last weekend. They pretended that they didn't notice, shoving the bed into a bag and--I assume--just hoping that I'd think that somehow it had been attacked by weevils between their driveway and my door.

53 comments:

Arielle said...

Too cute! More pictures! =) I need to live vicariously through other dog owners.

d said...

finally. someone who knows exactly how i feel.

J said...

LOL you're a great writer! I really enjoyed reading this post. That Wal*Mart story is wonderful, although coming home to dead fish actually sounds traumatizing. My cousin got married two years ago and they had tiny bowls with goldfish on every table at the 90-degree July weather outdoor wedding. My mom and I agreed this was inhumane and rescued our table fish. I cried and cried when 'he' didn't make it. I could never handle suicidal fish.

- J @ Hollow-Star.net

Dexter Colt said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dexter Colt said...

I had a beagle that went on the same destructive rampages. Since I could NEVER leave her alone without crating her I sent her to live with my parents.

Lo and behold, she got 100x better because my parents had what I didn't...another dog. All she needed was a dog pal and she calmed right down.

So, the solution (or WORST IDEA EVAR) is to get a second dog.

rs27 said...

I had a hamster once. We called him Spike. He died.

What if you had named him Mr. Nice Guy? I think PigPen just makes him wreck everything

andrea said...

That is an incredibly adorable dog. Reminds me A LOT of our lab, who gets bored sometimes and tears apart the newspapers for fun.

Andrea N said...

Pigpen is adorable...and yes, more pictures please!!

We have Tigger the Terrible Terrier, who also loves to rip the sh** out of the bed in his crate and also does his other business on it every. single. day. Tigger turned 10 in February...so I'm not promising it's going to get better. But, my hubby did find something a bit less destructable and also easier to clean - the Fatboy Doggielounge - http://www.fatboyusa.com/fatboy_doggielounge.php.

Oh yes...we tried the "Free Range Terrier" program one day when he was about 9 months old. I don't have that loveseat anymore.

WordPerv said...

Boxers are incredibly stupid dogs. Cute, but dumb.

Sounds like some men I've dated.

Becca said...

Take heart, I have a 7 month old puppy myself, her name is Lucy, aka Lucifer... she gets into a fair bit of trouble herself.

It's comforting to know I'm not the only one, who keeps hoping Ceasar will just magically show up at my house.

SJ Goody said...

As heartbreaking as it seems... maybe removing all forms of "plush" from his crate would help? And, how about rawhide chews?... it has to be better than cotton and courdoroy.

Ms. V. said...

That is one cute dog. Check out The Divine Canine, and send him to the Monks!

He just wants to play...awwww.

I don't have shredders, I have jumpers.

Gilahi said...

Not even rawhide chews. Go Nylabone. Dogs that love to chew love these things, and they last forever. My little Scottie used to swallow rawhide chewies pretty much whole and then throw them up whenever he could get to the nicest thing in my house. Nylabones solved that problem. I'm guessing Pigpen will grow out of the chewy phase, but you never know.

Anonymous said...

pigpen could have separation anxiety. my dog used to do the same thing - destroy whatever was in her crate while she was left alone for the day. she would be fine in the crate at night when sleeping - when I was in the same room with her. you could get drugs from your vet, or just hope he grows out of it soon. my dog did, sorta...

Ben said...

12lb cat-dog is the way to go. GO TEAM CALVIN!

For reals, maybe he needs more of a job-style work out. Add a weighted dog backpack for your walks, make sure he's focused and not skipping around smelling everything, give him a few tranquilizers or a bottle of gin and you'll be all set.

Most of those ideas came from Cesar.

Alice said...

OK - the best line EVAH... "R.I.P. Bath Mat. You were absorbent but not immortal."

You really should write book.

Becca Jaffe said...

I so much enjoyed reading this on what is Crappy Monday! God Bless you child, as I have put up with this in recent months. Our border collie pup Blaze has attempted to destroy our furniture and other things that are paid for.
I don't know how old your dog is, but if he's still a puppy, then he will grow out of this, he just needs boundaries like all children do. And few light slams every now and then.

Alias Grace said...

I have a mini dachshund, Tofu, who loves to chew things but we've been able to miraculously keep it to toys only. It does sounds like separation anxiety though, which we had to cope with too. You'd be surprised how much damage a 12-lb wiener dog can do.

If the walking on it's own isn't enough, I agree with Ben that the extra baggage will make the walking more intense and tucker little Pigpen out. The long walks definitely helped with us.

Catching him in the act of chewing other items with a big NO (a word our guy HATES) and then giving a chew toy with a "good boy" helped. The whole 20:80 negative to positive reinforcement worked wonders for our dog.

They do grow up eventually though and then you'll laugh at the horrible times. Eventually.

Deutlich said...

I have no good advice... and despite all the stunts he pulls - he is ADORABLE!

Seriously!

Robbie said...

I don't have any good advice. Perhaps getting a large thick sofa throw. At least that cant be ripped open.

But those pictures are so funny. The second one is hilarious. He almost looks like he is pulling a mental raspberry.

surviving myself said...

I'd probably shit on your ottoman too.

Those things are so unnecessary.

cassette45 said...

*tears in the eyes, shoulders shaking with silent laughter*

My Life My Life My Life said...

i have the same problem with my Rott. The vet says buckle up...its a bumpy ride that last for 2 years...I wont have a house in 2 years. He's chewed up everything from socks and chew toys to dryer vents and glasses. I stopped and asked a complete stranger who had a Rott ( yes, I'm desperate) and he said that to get his Rott to stop digging holes, he poured tobasco sauce in the hole. He said maybe it work the same way with the chewing...dont know. Why dont you give it a try and let me know..LOL.

JustinS said...

I had the same problem with my dog. That's why I replaced her with a midget.

Not only can you still use the same crate and toys you bought for the dog, but they're easier to potty train, too.

Anonymous said...

Your crate is too big for him. Part of the point of crate training is so they cant piss in it then avoid it later. You may also try making it more cave like (a blanket over the top). Lastly as painful as it is, maybe 90 minutes isnt enough exercise for him. Take him on your runs and try to wear him out.

Lilo said...

My puppy (who I also call Pigglesworth at times) destroys her beds on a regular basis. They def can not be trusted.

Rachel said...

He is TOO cute! I think that he is just playing with you, and I think that you could leave him in the crate without a bed, towel, rug, etc. and he would be just fine.

Leeuna F said...

Awwww...he's adorable. Maybe his 'chewing rampage' is just a puppy thing. My lab sort of got out of his destructive mode when he turned a year old...or maybe he just ran out of things to chew up and destroy? Who knows?

Anyway, I love your blog (so funny) and PigPen is sooooo cute.

Max said...

I got to take home a pitcher full of brine shrimp when I was in second grade. Since they are practically invisible to the human eye without a microscope, my mom poured them down the sink. RIP little guys, hope you at least made it to the wastewater treatment plant.

bFlat said...

The chewying and destruction will stop, eventually. Instead of buying new dog beds every week, we put old, crappy towels in the kennels. When he shreds them, not really a loss.

ps. He is absolutely adorable. I would never be able to stay mad at that cute face.

Stephanie said...

Nice walmart story! Sorry about the fish though. :(

aerorunnergirl said...

We have the same problem with our border collie. We run him 3-4 miles a day and he still doesn't get enough exercise. I suggest doggie day care and/or the dog park. We take our border collie there and let him run and run until he starts to look tired.

Also, if he hasn't been neutered, doing that may help calm him down a bit.

P.O.M. said...

You're the best writer.

We had a suicidal fish named "Flipper." He tried to off himself twice before we just covered his bowl. Now whenever something shitty happens, we say we're going to pull a flipper.

UrbanVox said...

huahuahuahuahuahuahua
That't dog's for you babes!
But u gotta love them really!
:)
Me and the TB are trying to convince the wiffey to let us have one! :)
hehehehehe

Anonymous said...

KONG (www.kongcompany.com) toys are what saved my rottweiler mix from chewing my house apart. Plus you can put really neat things (i.e. people food that’s safe for dogs) in them and freeze them, too! That should keep PigPen busy for awhile.

Rawhides are great too, as well as Grannick’s bitter apple spray, found in most pet stores. The bitter apple is mainly to keep dogs from chewing on themselves, but I find it makes just about everything taste rather unappetizing to a dog.

Finally, read "Marley & Me." It will put things in perspective. :-)

Joy @ Big Time Fancy said...

Doggy daycare?

Mia McZ said...

I have a german shepherd puppy named Siva, after the Hindu god of destruction. She is, thus far, living up to her name.

Katelin said...

i don't have a pet, just younger brothers and i don't think that advice would really help too much :)

Shelly... said...

Love your Boxer. That mug is awesome. I agree with an earlier post about the crate being too big. You don't want it so small that he is cramped but when they have so much extra room they do pee in it (know this from experience). Does he have a variety of toys in the crate? There are some really good ones (Kongs, etc.) that you can put food in and give him something to do. He is probably bored, and would do good with lots of chew toys. Also, I would get rid of the beds he can shred. Fleece blankets seem to be good. Do you have an Ikea nearby? They sell them pretty cheap. BTW, I totally believe in crate training. You can't let a pup have control of the house. Even now with our 7 year old Bostons they are confined to a part of the house during the day and sleep in their crate at night. Good luck and have fun!

Alya said...

I cant for the life of me live with dogs. I cannot bear to come home to chewed up stillettos or handbags - or even peed upon bed sheets..

I'd try cats, since supposedly they're more "clean" but I just have a low tolerance for pets. Anything with clawing, scratching and sh*tting is not for me..

Tulips said...

Speaking from experience, the crate is too big. See if you can get some extra wire or something to section it off a little until he gets bigger. Did that with my rottie and he no longer makes messes in his crate. Of course, he is a bit older now, but he probably stopped at 5-6 months once I figured it out.

Also, I can't tell you how many beds my rott has chewed up in the last year. So I gave up. Now he sleeps on a blanket. He doesn't feel the need to chew that. I felt cruel not giving him anything soft, but he always tore it up, so what do you do? A blanket works for us and keeps me from feeling so guilty.

Your boxer is so adorable though. Keep it up and try different things out till you find something that works.

But my rottie still can't be unsupervised.

He can be (what you think) is in a deep sleep dreaming of chasing cats, but the second you go upstairs to get a glass of water, he goes to the table that he KNOWS he isn't allowed to touch anything on and takes your keys or your husband's glasses or whatever.

Mischevious!

Boy they are cute though!

So good luck and more picture please, because I wanted a boxer, but my hubby wanted a rott and I'm glad.

Lisa said...

Oh and one more thing, he will probably not make pee-pee in there if you take the water out of his crate. But I know that's hard to do.

Just my 2 cents!

onewandering said...

Sounds like you've gotten some good comments & advice here... I have to agree with 90 minutes not being enough active time for your boxer pup -- joining you on your runs is going to give him a job, which he needs in order to not be destructive. Also, the crate is too large for initial training.

I've got a friend who trains his dogs by verbal reprimands only. He'll offer the dog something it's not supposed to chew and when it opens it's mouth he'll say sternly, "NO!" Then repeat, "You want this?" "No!" Until the dog won't even look at items like shoes, bath mats, etc. However, if you're crate training that means no toys, etc. in the crate. Can you look into getting a thick rubber mat, like the kind they put down in gyms? cut it to fit the bottom tray perfectly (so hopefully he won't dig up the edge to chew on it).

Then, to tackle the separation anxiety, try not to make your leaving an exciting event. Just leave. Even if it's to go into a different room for 20 minutes. Praise The Pig for being good for short bursts of time, and reward him with time with you and play.

I would NOT recommend getting a second dog - it's quite possible that it's not the companionship of the other animal that calmed Dexter Colt's pup down, but the fact that parents tend to come home from work and stay home, whereas we tend to come and go.

Good luck! :)

onewandering said...

Oh yes... and after the "lesson" in verbal reprimands of stuff The Pig is NOT allowed to chew, you've got to follow it up with a game using something he's allowed to chew (his toys) - hopefully something markedly different in texture from what you're trying to teach him to leave alone.

For example, if he's tearing up plush beds, only give him toys that are tennis balls, kongs, etc.

Oh - and I was once warned that nylabones can splinter as the dog chews them, and pierce the intestines. If it causes a blockage, the dog could die. Stay away from these types of dog chews!!!!

yoritomo said...

"Return dove! From whence you came!" was all i thought of for the first half of this entry.

Sorry i just watched arrested development.

Pig's probably the cutest.

emily said...

*hiccups from laughing* Yeah. I have a six month old Maltese puppy (which is new and strange, as I've always been a big dog only sort of girl). He's five pounds of mayhem. I third the suggestion to partition his crate, if you're trying to use crate training to housebreak him. Otherwise, doggy daycare, all the way. Kong and Nylabone him. Can't say enough about both brands. Instead of a mat or cushion (which Dex promptly ate), I have a microfleece blanket that he's been unable to shred. It's just one piece of fabric, no seams to rip, no stuffing to shred, from the baby department at Tarjay.

You might want to try limiting his range, too, until he's trained. Petsmart has some indoor pens on the relative cheap.

Pigpen could eat my dog. Of course, my dog thinks he could eat the neighbor's Great Danes. Also, the FedEx truck, a redtail hawk and various deer. *pinches Pig's cheeks*

startsinmynose said...

boxers...you gotta love them. i have one. his name is oscar. oscar the boxer. and yes, they are truly the world's dumbest dog. but the most loving dogs, too. oscar, too has gone thru a million-and one, cages. chewed right thru them. honestly. used to eat my daughters poopy diapers, too. (what possesses one?) and eating the beds-he is notorious for this!!! when i saw the pics, i thought, oh dear.....this guy is oscars best friend....he lives in the garage now when we are gone. in a custom made cage. with no bed, but a blanket. i have to say though, he is the most loyal dog ever and although we sometimes could strangle him....hes a honey....

The Dutchess of Kickball said...

As for the chewing and destorying, I couldn't tell you, but the peeing on stuff...his crate his too big. If a dog can pee on something, yet still lay down without being in it they will. His crate should be just big enough for him to turn around in, but not be able to get away from his own pee. Let him lay in it a couple of days and he'll stop.

My dog is five and still shreds things. I think that is just the nature of the beast. But that Pigpen is adorable!

Two Left Feet said...

1. he is SO cute.

2. i love ceasar.

3. do you own a treadmill? if so, while you are working you can put the dog on a leash on the treadmill. it's a great way to tire out over-zealous dogs. THEN you try doing some training drills.

4. we have a pit, and had to hire a trainer to help her with her craving to try to eat other dogs (we adopted her when she was 5 and not very dog friendly). see if you have a local animal shelter that has cheap trainers and/or classes. they help! even if they don't work completely...

Rhoobs said...

your crate is too big. dogs are only supposed to be able to lie down and stand up comfortably. since dogs instinctivley won't "piss where they sleep" his crate needs to be more of a safe place for him.

buuuuttt some dogs just don't take to crate traning like mine. she would prefer to bark and howl until let out and then goes and sleeps on the couch. must be nice to be a dog.

Beret said...

My lab puppy is a chewer and a destroyer. In all other ways he's perfect, but omg the chewing, and the destroying. It's terrible. He is crated whenever I can't be with him and he is now only allowed to have a couple towels in there with him. They really don't even *need* any bedding.

The things that have saved me are Kongs stuffed with wet food and frozen overnight (they give me about 15 minutes of peace each, he gets 4 a day), rawhides, and the crate (I have a sheet over ours).

He's adorable, but I feel your frustration.

Beth said...

That dog is absolutely adorable. And I have the same issue with my cat. Smaller animal, same scale. He has managed to claw his way into destroying our ottoman, kitchen cabinets, couches, chairs, entertainment center, throw rugs, edges of the staircase, back sides of doors, all blinds, all curtains, and all window and door screens.

But hes cute as hell so we love him anyway.

ashley said...

I can't continue reading your posts at work. I can not control the laughter. Please become famous so I can see your shows and buy your tapes and listen to you all the time!