I was thinking I needed to puppy-proof our house before the new little critter arrives later this month. Then I looked around and realized the military grade puppy-proofing I inflicted on our home following Phoenix’s arrival 7 1/2 years ago is still in effect. Seriously. After you’ve mali-proofed your home once, there’s really not much else you can do to it.
The toilet paper went into hiding under the bathroom sink when Phoenix arrived and hasn’t come back out since. Over the last 7 1/2 years, when people came to visit I’ve occasionally had to yell through the bathroom door to inform the occupant where to find the potty paper. People who visit frequently know where to find it. Chances are, they are dog friends and could figure it out themselves because that's where they keep theirs, too.
The hand-woven baskets and dried floral arrangements went out the door (often in a trash bag) after Phoenix arrived. Ditto for throw pillows. Fabric rabbits. Lace-edged doilies. Home decorating magazines touting creative ways to display hand-woven baskets with dried floral arrangements, throw pillows, fabric rabbits and lace-edged doilies. I waved good-bye to the days of having rooms that looked like Better Homes and Gardens photo shoots. Okay, so they weren’t exactly BH&G material but still . . . I liked my dried flowers. As it turned out, so did Phoenix. Nice to know we shared the same aesthetics, although for totally different reasons.
And it wasn’t like Phoenix was allowed to run amuck in the house without supervision. The casualties happened when I WAS watching him. He was THAT fast. God forbid I ever turned my back on him. The house would have come crashing down over our heads while he happily chewed through a supporting wall.
Phoenix actually may have done me a colossal favor when it came to keeping our house neat and tidy. He made it clear that if an object was important, you put it away where it belonged - in cupboard, filing cabinet, dresser drawer, closet or on top of the refrigerator. Or out in the machine shed.
As a puppy, he believed anything not red hot or nailed down was fair game for a spontaneous tournament of keep away. I called them tournaments because they involved a great deal of time and skill by both parties before a winner could be declared. And frequently that winner was not me.
Initially, these tournaments did not end well for the object Phoenix possessed. Later, when he learned purloined items could be exchanged for a treat, the snatch and grab habits continued, but by then I had wised up and the number of things that could be subjected to his petty thievery had been greatly reduced.
Mundane everyday stuff that might be found casually laying about on counter tops, night stands or end tables — like note pads, pencils, drink coasters, boxes of tissues, tubes of hand lotion, coffee mugs, paper napkins, spatulas, dish cloths, the day’s mail, jewelry, scissors, glasses cases, yesterday’s mail, hot pan holders, boxes of crackers, mugs holding ink pens, loaves of bread, bottles of honey (the honey, omg, the honey), keys, cell phones, TV remotes, DVR remotes, computer mice, weather radios (yeah, seriously) and any number of other household miscellany including potted plants — found its way into Phoenix’s mouth before I enacted Malinois Rule #7: if you don’t want him to get it, PUT IT AWAY. This was a difficult concept for the Farmer to grasp. My previous dogs all went through chewy stages as puppies but they paled in comparison to Phoenix’s reign of terror.
The items he took weren’t consumed . . . just . . . re-purposed. Okay, they were ripped, shredded and mangled, with the pieces cheerfully strewn about the house. But to his credit, he never ate any of them.
Over the last 7 1/2 years, I’ve gotten in the habit of keeping the house much tidier than I ever did pre-Phoenix. Whoever penned "A place for everything and everything in its place" must have had a malinois. Although I’m not an obsessive neat-nik, in a couple of weeks, the puppy will come into a house where there entertainment potential of available inanimate objects is fairly low.
But there are still the cats. I haven’t told the cats about the puppy. I think I’ll let that be a surprise.