In search of ponies: Dogs predisposed to destruction

Sharna Johnson

“My dog is helping me downsize,” a coworker said to me recently.

“How so?” I asked curiously.

She went on to explain her dog has this thing about destroying anything that enters his area of the yard, regardless of what it is.

So far he has eaten a garden hose, potted plants and a few other things.

You know, channeled in the right direction, a dog like that could be useful. Just set him loose in the closets, the garage or that spare bedroom where all the “I want it but I don’t want to look at it” stuff gets shoved.

But they never seem to target stuff you need to get rid of.

Years ago I had a friend whose husky was incredibly destructive and did a lot of damage to their home.

When her husband’s coworkers learned of the dog’s issues, they started calling the house and talking to him through the answering machine.

The first time they did it he dug a hole through the couch — the second time it was the love seat and he marked everywhere.

The vet told them it was separation anxiety and put the dog on Prozac, but I always wondered if it wasn’t just sheer boredom coming from a high-bred dog locked in the house all day.

They got another dog — this time a female husky — to try and ease his suffering, and together they tore up the new couch, a steel kennel in the yard and the yard before working their way through the fence to run amuck in the neighborhood.

One of my other coworkers has a dog who likes books.

Not to read; to chew of course.

He said they try not to leave books within reach, but in the occasional oversights that happen, they have learned the pooch can consume about 600 pages before anyone notices.

I had another friend with two mastiffs who had a hankering for drywall and ate their way through the walls of the mud room they slept in at night.

My German shepherd had a thing for carpeting and would pull it up with his teeth when he got bored.

And my female cattle dog drags logs (I mean big logs, I’m not sure how) and garden hoses around the yard and loves pencils.

But I guess in hindsight, I’m pretty lucky, at least I never had a pooch eat through a wall.

Unless you count my St. Bernard in high school, who ate every window sill in the house.

None of these dogs, however, have been bad dogs and are all beloved pets, they just have ravenous appetites.

I almost wonder if being a dog isn’t a little like being pregnant, I mean you hear stories of women who crave weird things like laundry detergent and dirt.

Or may be they just want to participate in whatever is important to their owners.

“Why are they always sitting on this couch? They must be guarding treasure under (dig-dig-dig) here…”

“Hey, Mom spent hours potting these plants so maybe if I unplant them she will come back outside!”

Most likely, there is something stimulating about having splinters in their gums and they feel like conquering heroes marching around the yard dragging a garden hose behind them.

I even kind of get the couch thing.

In my younger years of summer boredom, some friends and I cut the upholstery off my mother’s couch to see what it was made of.

Granted I learned real quick that when she said she hated the couch and wanted a new one, she didn’t mean now and she certainly didn’t intend for it to go out in a fluff explosion in the living room.

Whatever their reasons, dogs and destruction seem to go hand in hand, unless you’re lucky enough to get one of those perfect pooches I have heard of but never met.

You know, you’d think after thousands of years of living with humans, they’d know we don’t like it when they tear up our stuff.

But at least dogs are domesticated animals … I think.