You destroy the ones you protect?
Article by Andy Barnham
As a new dog owner, I was always under the expectation that a puppy would cause some damage around the home, but I wasn’t quite prepared for quite exactly how and where Gypsy would spread her ‘love’.
From the get go Gypsy was learned very quickly where she could undertake her bodily functions and it was only after a matter of days that, as a tiny puppy, she would sit on the door mat and ask to be let outside. At such an age she was also left in her cage whenever she was left home alone and it was some time until she was trusted enough with freedom of movement around the house by herself.
When it comes to toys she did and still does happily destroy any toy with stuffing; indeed this has extended to cushions and other stuffed items. The larger she has grown, the quicker the destruction. Quite literally the toys are loved to death. Personally I’ve always thought this showed a competitive streak in her. The firmer and more robust the toy, the more of a challenge it is to break it. A grey triceratops, marketed as ‘tough toy’ lasted mere hours before the front horn was ripped off while the longest lasting toy to date has been a yellow octopus (albeit with only 6 tentacles) which lasted several weeks. Due to the longevity of the octopus, another was bought when the first one was no more but unfortunately son of octopus, made with a different construction technique, lasted less than half that amount of time. Admittedly Gypsy had grown in-between octopus generations and her jaws were noticeably larger and stronger.
I fully expected the toy destruction and the stuffing left around the house, the evidence of her success littering the floor like trophies. When she chewed a book binding and my laptop power cable I was equally non plussed, though typically she went for one of my more expensive photography books (Sebastião Salgado’s Genesis) rather than a cheap novel. It was the other collateral damage that I wasn’t expecting.
I’m not sure when I first noticed them, but one day I noticed scratch marks all along one of the walls at home. Black claw marks in groups of up to four on the neutral grey background. As soon as I noticed the first set, I began noticing them all around the house. Downstairs by the book case, by the front door, upstairs by the light switch. Some of the marks I can understand, such as the light switch, but others (the bookcase)… I can only presume she was trying to catch a fly.
Protective by nature, Gypsy is often wary of passers by my home and indeed often barks at planes flying overhead on their way to and from the London airports. She realised recently that, in the main bedroom, she could stand with her front paws on the radiator, back paws on the bed, push the blinds out the way with her head and look through the window. This gives her full visibility to those walking past and a chance for her to tell them that she can see them. This has meant paw marks all around the radiator and various indents in the blinds where she’s nudged them out of the way. To give her credit, for such a large dog, Gypsy is incredibly nimble. While performing her guard duties I’ve witnessed her stand upright on her hind legs on the living room radiator looking out the window and then completely missed the flat screen tv on the adjacent table on the way down (my heart was in my mouth when I caught sight of this).
It is not only the house that bears the scars of her protection and love, but also the flower bed. Some plants have been left completely untouched while others, presumably the tastier ones, have been ripped out and chewed on with much glee and enthusiasm.
For various reasons, the house is due a lick of paint soon and when it comes to choosing the paint I’ll make sure that I don’t choose a matt paint which shows up every scratch and bruise, but rather a more robust one which will, hopefully, stand up to the ‘Gypsy test’. Equally during her efforts to protect the house, I hope Gypsy doesn’t destroy it, too much.