Friday, November 3, 2023

Insight: Seeking a doggie psychiatrist

By Ed Pierce
Managing Editor

Trying to understand the mind of our dog Fancy is beyond comprehension, and it has led my wife Nancy and I to the conclusion that we probably need to consult a doggie psychiatrist, if there is such a thing.

Ed Pierce's dog Fancy has recently started
removing toilet paper from the bathroom 
and shredding it on the living room sofa.
Fancy came to us seven years ago as a rescue, courtesy of an organization called Ozark Homeward Bound. It cares for stray animals in the Southeastern U.S. and adopts them out to families in New England.

We first saw Fancy online after we had lost our other dog when we lived in New Hampshire. Ozark Homeward Bound brought her to Methuen, Massachusetts and we picked her up there. Little did I know then that such a precious little puppy would result in constant chases around the dining room table as she loves to grab items from the laundry basket and dash to chew them up. She also has a bad habit of leaping up and taking papers and other items off our desks.

Last summer, I placed a 1961 Carl Yastrzemski baseball card I had acquired on eBay on my desk in a plastic sleeve until I could put it in an album with other cards. It had only been there a day or so when Fancy selected an opportune time to spring into action. She waited patiently until I walked to the kitchen from my desk and then she slowly trotted to my office, jumped, and snatched the card, chewing it into small pieces. I heard a sound of crunching plastic and shredded paper and then stood in the doorway looking in disbelief at what she had done.

Furniture is not safe either. Once Nancy brought home an old armchair that although well worn, was quite comfortable. She threw a cover over it and used it when reading. But its comfort also meant it became a favorite place to sleep for Fancy. As she took a liking to it, she soon began to nudge the cover aside and would dig a hole in the worn fabric cushion while we were out to dinner or at the store.

In a few years, the hole widened, and she began to dig deeply into the stuffing inside the cushion and chew on it. We are now on the 15th different covering for the chair and Fancy seems to relish thwarting each new initiative to save the chair.

When she was a small puppy, Fancy was relegated to a crate while Nancy and I were at work during the day. She learned that if she backed up and then threw herself against the front of the crate, she could make it move. That led to her moving her crate to the dining room table, where I had a jacket hanging on a chair. She somehow was able to pull the jacket into her crate and tear it to shreds.

Her latest penchant takes the cake though. When Nancy retired from teaching last year, we set up a tutoring room in our home, and she offers lessons to students after school. Apparently, our dog is jealous of the attention that the students receive when they visit. To recapture that attention, she will go to extremes to let us know she is there.

Just a month ago when a student was at our home, Fancy went into the bathroom, knocked the roll of toilet paper off the holder and took it back to the living room sofa. There I found her as she unspooled the roll of toilet paper and chewed it into a million tiny white pieces.

This routine went on for several weeks and to discourage her from doing that, we made sure the door to the bathroom stayed closed. But it did not stop her. When a student used the bathroom and didn’t close the door afterward, she once again barged in, grabbed the toilet paper, and destroyed it. By my count, she’s now gone through at least 10 rolls and the number continues to rise.

To counter that behavior, we moved the toilet paper to the top of the toilet out of her reach. Several days later when a student was here, she instead grabbed a roll of paper towels by the bathroom sink and proceeded to tear that to shreds.

All of this has become a game to her and she’s quite good at it. If a student drops a crayon, a pencil or an eraser, Fancy pounces on them and carries them off to be chewed. She’s destroyed books, door mats, venetian blinds, gloves, clothes pins, and several plush doggy beds.

Everything is fair game, no matter if students are visiting or not, including grabbing a piece of pizza off my plate as I sat down to dinner the other night. This morning I heard her crunching something and chased her around the dining room table to discover she had a business card someone had given to Nancy in her mouth.

All this bad behavior from such an adorable little pooch is hard to fathom. Somewhere in that demented doggie brain of hers there appears to be a screw loose and I’m willing to bring her to a canine psychiatrist if that would help.

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