Mary and I are reluctant to kennel Jackie during the day. Jackie is great at voluntarily going into her kennel at night, often without even being asked, but flops onto the ground and has to be dragged to her kennel on the rare occasions when we've kenneled her during the day. So, if we intend to be away for brief periods, we have been letting her roam the house.
In anticipation of Jackie being at home alone, we go around closing bedroom doors and so on, so she just has the run of the basement and the ground floor -- kitchen, dinning room, and front room. I'm fairly good at policing those areas to ensure there is nothing left out that Jackie can destroy, though Jackie has been steadily educating us on what constitutes "potential toy" to her. The electrical cord on the vacuum cleaner, for example, took me by surprise; luckily it wasn't plugged in at a time. But just like with baby-proofing the house when Tigana and Kasia were small, we now automatically lift everything chewable up onto counters and shelves out of Jackie's reach.
I have to confess that I may have occasionally accidently on purpose failed to put away particularly loathsome kids' toys – you know the ones I mean: the ugly stuffie that the kids insist they still want, even though neither has actually touched it in four years; or the politically incorrect bratz doll that somebody gave one of them for a birthday present; or the beloved teddy that has started to go a bit moldy. If these happen to be left on the basement floor, well, it's Jackie takes the blame on their dismemberment, not me for throwing them out; and the kids learn (very slowly, I must say) to pick up after themselves.
So, after quickly checking that there was nothing on the floor except sacrificial kids' toys and a half dozen strategically placed Jackie toys, including a new stuffed gopher which should have been good entertainment for 2 hours, we left Jackie at home alone for a bit longer than usual -- four hours.
We came home to find her toys and the kids' toys all perfectly fine, still scattered about the floor. However. The stuff – our stuff – on the dining room table....
So Jackie apparently climbed up onto the supposedly out-of-reach surface of the table and ate 1 silicon oven mitt (I would have though those essentially indestructible!); an assortment of pens; a bar of old soap (well, we sent 20 minutes reconstructing the pieces strewn around the room to ascertain that it was essentially all accounted for and we didn't have to phone the vet to pump her stomach); and – wait for it – my $400 ipod.
Fortunately, I had my laptop and its power cord with me, or otherwise I'd no doubt be looking at a $4,000 replacement cost. But why oh why would a dog climb up on a dinning room table to eat an ipod? They can't taste that great.
I was a bit surprised how calmly I took this—I listen to that ipod whenever I get the chance – it is my main source of CBC/NPR/BBC/TVO programming, and listening to shows like Sparks, Search Engine, and Q, is a significant resource for courses I teach on popular culture and cyberculture etc. Listening to the ipod is the only thing that made housework – especially alone in my brother's or mother's places – tolerable. Long drives, like when I go up to Edmonton to check on Mom or renovations to Doug's, I listen through external speakers. I'm not sure I manage without an ipod.
When I asked Mary why I was being so philosophical about it, Mary reminded me of when we first met, and she had left her two dogs with me while she went out on the lecture circuit for a couple of weeks. I'd come home one day soon after to discover the two dogs had got into and torn apart a giant carton of crayons. There had been micro pieces of crayon spread over and rubbed into the living room carpet changing it from a standard neutral beige to a truly unique "rainbow". And to Mary's surprise and delight, my only reaction had to been to burst out laughing. It was obviously my fault, not the dogs', that I had left the crayons where they could chew them up. I think it was at that point she figured I'd make a passable father for her kids....
But it does mean we will have to kennel Jackie when we're away from now on, which seems so mean. At least, it's usually only for a couple of hours at a time this time of year, since Mary and I can work from home most of the time, just going in for actual classes or meetings. But still....