The Joys of Owning a Dog

Came down to the kitchen this morning and found the trash formerly in the trash can comprehensively distributed across (and into) the kitchen rug, in a manner that clearly suggests a dog working her way through the trash to get to the tiny bit of roast gristle somewhere down at the bottom of the can. This is what we get for not putting the trash can back under the sink, which typically thwarts the dog from trash-grazing due to her lack of opposable thumbs. So while the dog is guilty guilty guilty, it’s hard to blame her too much. And to her defense, when I asked her to explain her thinking, she gave every appearance of being sorry, or of at least faking being sorry.

And in any event, she’s was not the only malfeasant, as the hairball I also found in the kitchen, flecked with green foil, suggests. Having three cats makes that one a little harder to pin on any one cat, however. Thus we see the power in numbers.

The rug, incidentally, totally trashed, pun intended. Rather than trying to clean out the mashed potatoes, bananas and beef grease among other horrible things, I rolled the whole thing up into a large, green trash burrito and hauled it off to the trash bin outside, which is dog proof and laughs off raccoons too.

I did take a picture of the carnage. I’m not posting it. I don’t want to the Internets to judge me on my trash. Also, Krissy would murder me. One of these is more motivating than the other, I admit.

45 Comments on “The Joys of Owning a Dog”

  1. As the owner of a trash-picking cat, I offer my sympathy.

    I don’t have an under-sink option–not that it matters, since my cat regularly opens all the kitchen cabinets. The cabinets are somehow interconnected, as I’ve seen the cat enter one and exit an altogether different one. Human exploration of these spaces does not reveal the connection, leaving me to conclude that my cat has the ability to fold space.

  2. The joys of housesitting a dog and a cat:

    The dog (shetland sheepdog) has taken to obtaining the cat’s food dish (which sits on a cat scratching tree), moving it some distance,and eating all of the food. The cat (not more than a kitten) is too small to manage the feat, so it must be the dog.

    And he has plenty of dog food in his bowl, so its not hunger as a motivation…

  3. Once upon a time I read that your average adult dog has the reasoning power and sense of responsibility of a two-year-old human. True or not, I try to keep that in mind whenever Olivia (yellow Lab) gets into it. Whatever “it” is at the moment.

    Also: a kitchen rug should be machine washable. Check the tag and maybe save yourself a few bucks, Homer.

  4. Our dog is banned from the house after eating the couch. At least a kitchen rug is cheaper to replace!

  5. This is really not making me look forward to watching my mom’s dog until Sunday. I pick it up tomorrow. Silly me was thinking that with my kids gone, I would have a clean house for a few days.

  6. I’ve never had a dog, but my now 24 year old son used to do that when he was a small child. So I can identify with your situation. Somewhat.

  7. Mac and Moe wished they could have joined in the fun at your house. They routinely redecorate our house(at least the rooms they’re allowed in) whenever we forget and leave trash bags accessible to them.

  8. Dogs are dogs and they do dog things. As such, the only thing that you can expect of them is that they act and behave like dogs.

    For example, we know that our little dog loves to chew on socks. She stalks whomever is doing the laundry and If a sock falls on the floor while laundry is being sorted she pounces on it like a fox on a rabbit and then darts under the bed to happily chew on said sock. No amount of admonishment has been able to correct this behavior.

    Knowing this, my wife and I have a rule that clothes, particularly socks, do not get left on the floor or else when they reappear they will often have holes were none were previously. Yet my wife has a bad habit of putting a pile of clothes on the floor while sorting, but then moving on to something else, forgetting they were there. She has, on numerous occasions, had socks missing only to be found under the bed as a result.

    When my wife starts to blame the dog, declaring her “guilty” of the high crime of sock stealing I remind my wife that the dog is guilty of nothing other than behaving like a dog. That it is, in fact, not the dog’s fault her socks have holes in them, but her’s.

    Why is it my wife’s fault and not the dogs? Because my wife knew better. She knew that the dog would likely take those socks if they were available. So my wife has no one to be mad at but herself.

    Therefore, you can’t blame the dog. Your dog is only guilty of behaving like a dog. The fault for this disaster and a destroyed rug is the responsibility of whomever left the garbage out in the open. As you stated, that’s what you get for not putting the trash can back under the sink…

  9. Leaving the dog out of this …

    Good grief — maybe it’s just my lower-middle-class upbringing, but I’ve always found the thought of rugs (or worse yet, full carpeting) in the kitchen, or over-sized “mats” (actually rugs) in the bathroom, appallingly impractical. For me, easily cleanable tile flooring’s a must for both places, which are prone to spills and other messes.

  10. I don’t know that I buy this 100%, evolvedape. I think animals can learn what not to do, although you do have to catch them in the act a few times and have a consistent response each time for it to sink in. In the case of Daisy, we haven’t had that conversation yet — and to be totally fair to the dog, a trash can full of interesting smells is hard to resist — so this isn’t something we can really get on her case about yet. We’ll try to teach her to stay out of the trash so that future lapses will be more infrequent than they might be otherwise.


    In fact a rug is useful to catch crumbs and other detritus from the sink and kitchen island area, which is then easily vacuumed up. The rug in question was not expensive nor was it delicate; we had it for years and it had accumulated a panoply of spills, etc during its tenure (and to reference Jeff Hentosz’s point earlier, it was easily machine-washable). One reason I decided to chuck it was because it was at the point we were considering a new one anyway. Now seemed a fine opportunity to move on that.

  11. @Paul: Shelties will do that. They’re too damned smart for our good (and theirs). ;-) We have four of them and some days it’s like a daycare center at our house.

    John, at our house the rule is: “If you left it out and the dog(s)/cat(s) got into it, it’s your own fault and you have to clean it up.” Besides, we have to watch out for this kind of thing, because dogs can get pancreatitis from eating too much human food. It’s horribly painful for the dog, expensive to treat and can be fatal.

  12. I think animals can learn what not to do, although you do have to catch them in the act a few times and have a consistent response each time for it to sink in.

    Difference between dogs and cats: a dog can be taught not to do something; a cat can only be taught not to do something while you are looking.

  13. John, well, at least you bought some percentage of it!

    And for the record, our dog is very well trained, doesn’t chew on anything she’s not supposed to, except socks. It really is the one thing we can’t get her to stop doing.

    My point was that for dogs, there will be some things that will be too great a temptation and we need to be aware of this and remove that temptation whenever possible.

  14. Scalzi said, “In fact a rug is useful to catch crumbs and other detritus from the sink and kitchen island area, which is then easily vacuumed up. ”

    What?!?! And deprive the dog? How cruel. Anyway, that’s one of the advantages of having a dog: to snoof up the crumbs from one’s kitchen floor so you don’t have to vacuum or sweep.

  15. As for any of those who want to know, the best thing I have ever found that has Never let me down for getting anything cleaned from fabric is Oxi-Clean. It has never hurt the fabric, and never failed to get out a stain.

    John. I am taking the view that Daisy knew you and your wife were thinking of replacing the carpet, she was just giving you a helping hand.
    Incentive even.
    I have always tried to teach the cats and dogs good manners. You teach them what is wrong or right and if a mess is made, then it is made. I try to go by the opinion that I clean something so that it can become dirty so I can enjoy cleaning it again. I guess it helps that my dogs have always ended up acting like cats, and my cats end up acting more like dogs. Then the kids take turns doing things like jumping into and stealing clean clothes to have laundry wars with. I hate having my animals outside and I can’t wait to bring them in again.
    For you of those who already are enjoying your own animal cohabitation experiences, I envy you and wish you all the best for the upcoming new year.

  16. So lucky that my dog never went through the trash. Not sure how to teach a dog not to do this either.

    The cats on the other hand leave little surprises for me constantly. I never know who unless I’m there to witness the hacked up hairball or the remnants of the meal that was not fully digested. One of them got me out of bed early this morning by hacking up a hairball. Luckily she had just jumped off the bed. I could possibly say that I trained her not to yack all over my bed. But I’m talking about a cat here, so not much of a chance.

    Having thrown away rugs before, I don’t blame you. Some rugs are just not meant to be saved. I wonder if you stuck it in the recycling bin, could they recycle it?

  17. This totally makes me miss having a dog… A cat is no substitute, though I love my cat just as much. Wait, what do you mean this post wasn’t to encourage me to get a dog?!?

  18. Our Giant Schnauzer (Jaina, yes, from the WoW universe) has learned how to nudge the top of our kitchen trash can open so she can attempt to snack on leftovers – too often lately with success.
    She also seems to be inordinately fond of nibbling on paper. I have no idea why…

  19. Personally, and I may have missed the point here, I’d say that one dog is equal in value to three cats- or you’d have three dogs. Not that I’d recommend that, I was once accidently the owner of 4 dogs.
    Oh, and while I can appreciate the dog-eating trash thing as I once had all gift wrapped chocolates under the tree attacked (no dogs were harmed during or after said incident) I am currently the proud owner of a rough-tough-scaredy-Ridgeback who will not walk past the washing machine when it is running. This may sound like a minor inconvenience but if you take into account the sitting outside the backdoor whining behaviour while refusing to use the doggy door as it’s involves walking past the dog-eating washing machine until I get up and let her in AND turn off the washing machine then you might concede that it’s more of an inconvenience (I do lots of laundry) than putting the trash under the sink.

  20. Cats, on the other hand, believe that if you didn’t see them do it, it didn’t happen.

    And if it did happen, so what?

  21. I, sadly, am currently dogles, but I come from a family thoroughly spoiled by our first dog. He never made any kind of mess in the house, except when the ‘mess’ was the direct result of an illness. After puppyhood, he was quiet in the house, and more fun than the proverbial barrel of monkeys outdoors.

    I have come to the conclusion, though, that this was not the result of lucking into the perfect dog, but rather, the 4/1 child/dog ratio.

  22. ‘Tis the season for dogs to cause grief. Mine upchucked on the sheets just as I was about to go to bed last night. Sigh. Can’t get mad at him for that. Spent extra hour and a bit washing the sheets while he ate a digestive biscuit.

  23. I see this as an attempt to train a new human. But it seems you missed the lesson, which is that roast gristle should go straight to the dog and not the trash.

  24. Jeffrey Beumel @#1: I believe you have mistaken our host’s house for a place where “leftover bacon” is physically possible.

  25. You can train a dog not to go through the trash, or not to steal food from the table, but at some point they gain enough life experience to learn that stealing is worth any amount of punishment or disapproval. It would be amusing if not for the mess, the foul diarrhea, and the near-death experiences caused by dogs stealing and eating stuff they shouldn’t have. Our old dog Nala nearly died of an attack of pancreatitis she developed after eating about 4 pounds of stolen kitten food. She barely survived. Two days later, in spite of an abundance of caution, I found her right back in the kitty food. It’s worth death, man. DEATH.

    By the way, the sock-stealing dog sounds a lot like our dog Courage. He does it because he is trying to start a game of keep away, and it is so much fun for him that we’ve never been able to break the habit. We can stop him if we catch him right before he steals the item–otherwise all of our efforts to punish him are just part of the game. Courage is big, so he runs under the table instead of under the bed. He does like socks quite a lot. Sometimes pets are kind of crazy and you just have to adjust.

  26. What’s that internet meme? Ah, “pics or it didn’t happen!” Sadly, though, I don’t need the pictures, I know the mess that either a dog or a two-year-old can make.

  27. Too bad we cant see a pic–that would have been tubular. But having Krissy kill you would not be so tubular AT ALL, so I suppose we can live without the pictures.

  28. One year in my childhood, when all the relatives were gathered at our house for Christmas… My mother pulled the Christmas roast out of the oven and set it on the counter to rest. While bustling about the kitchen, she turned her back on the roast for a MOMENT. And when she turned back to it… It was GONE.

    And our elderly, arthritic, toothless collie Star was dashing out of the kitchen.

    Mom dashed after her, shrieking. We lived in a rambling country house that was bizarrely designed like a train instead of a house, i.e. one room after another, after anotther, after another, stretching on to infinity. The kitchen was at one end of the house… so Star had a lot of runway available to her, as she ran faster than he had oved in years, through the house, with my shrieking mother running after her as she choked down this FIVE POUND ROAST.

    After the initial horror of realizing that the entire family’s Christmas dinner was IN THE DOG’S MOUTH, my mother’s next horror was a realistic concern that Star would choke to death on it.

    So the two of them pelted madly through the house until they both got to my parents’ bedroom, which was at the other end. By now, the relatives were pelting after them, without quite knowing why. And when my mother caught up with Star (who was, be it remembered, old, arthritic, and missing teeth)… nothing was left of that roast but the string.

    Now THAT’S a Christmas dog-story memory.

  29. @24… you named a Schnauzer Jaina?? ahahahaha….

    And, John, Ruth Ellen beat me to it. The dog is there for the crumbs. In fact, this episode wasn’t Daisy being messy, but an understated bit of misdirection to get rid of the Crumb Eating Rug that was stealing her food. And CwinC thought that furball of a cat was subtle… (ducks…)

  30. Our current dog is rather vertically challenged, and can’t get into the trash can (she looks so disappointed when we feed the large white can the scraps instead of her).

    Our previous dog was a big trash hound (spent the early part of her life as a stray), and even lacking thumbs, could open cabinets and get at the trash. When we were not in the house, we had to place a chair in front of the cabinet.

    ….aaaaaand, she was highly submissive. If she got at the trash, she’d then regret it, and submissively urinate all over it. Making it all that much more fun to clean up.

  31. You can train some dogs to do some things.
    I know a shephard who will hold a dog treat on his nose until you give him permission to eat it. drool will drip from his lips, but he will wait till given the ok.

    and i know dogs that no amount of training will ever achieve that.

    owners sometimes attribute far too much intelligence and ill intent to a dog. they come home and the dog had gotten into the trash. they start yelling. the dog looks guilty. they assume the dog looks guilty because the dog knows what it did was wrong.

    what the dog is more likely doing is not looking guilty but *submitting* to a dominant person. looking down. avoiding eye contact. tail tucked. and so on. thats likely submission to you yelling at the dog or behaving in whatever manner it percieves you to be ready to establish your dominance. swatting them with a newspaper.

    dogs arent stupid. they can figure out the immediate connection between owner screaming and owner hitting them. in the pack they learn when a more dominant dog is about to put them in check. and they submit. (or if they think yiu are a pushover or the dog challenging them is a pushover, rather than submit they might try to respond with aggression. owners who let their dog be alpha are the ones likely to get bit)

    but it takes quite a bit of mental development to grok that the person yelling at you now is yeling at you for something that happened an hour ago. and most dogs dont have the ability for that level of comprehension.

    in the moment or imediately after and they might eventualy learn the connection. but if you were gone for an hour and come home to a trash rug burrito, its too late. just clean it up and try to keep the trash out of reach. if the dog looks guilty its likely because you, the alpha, are looking that way you look when you yell or are about to swat them with a newspaper.

    this isnt directed at you, John. Its more in response to people ascribing to high levels of intelligence in a dog that then often becomes justifications for punishments that just dont make sense for animals. people think they see guilt as a result of comptehension of wrong doing when what they are really looking at is submission to an percieved immediate threat.

  32. And some time it is those unintended consequences,

    When our new puppy was little, we would let her have those cute stuffed animal chew toys. After a while, the dogs found it great fun to play tug of war with them and tear them to shreds. We eventually got tired of the mess and stopped getting them. Fast forward a year. The cute LITTLE puppy is now a ONE HUNDRTES AND SEVENTY pound beast who still thinks she is little and should fit in your lap. We came back from a four day car trip and the dog decided that the couch cushion was a chew toy. Now, she has been told no to that and does pretty good about things, but some behaviors are unintended. Yes, we can and will train her out of this type of behavior, but in all honesty, I have to say it is partly our fault and could not get too mad.

  33. Interesting, the lack of opposable thumbs never stopped my cat from getting under the sink. But my cabinet door swings out like any other cabinet door and the cat learned how to force it open just a little. As the door slammed shut, bounced off the frame, and opened a bit more, the cat learned to catch it when it was most open, open it a little wider, where it would then slam with a bit more energy than it had before. Eventually it just reached a point where the door would stay open.

    I hope your dog doesn’t read this blog because I just gave him the secret of nightly trash raids.

  34. My dogs have been known to trash surf when something is particularly intereting in it but not often. I just removed temptation when it was time to replace the garbage can by buying one that you have to step on the lever to open. Putting it under the sink would never work in my house, both dogs know how to open the kitchen cabinets. All dog food, treats, and everything else we didn’t want them into had to be moved out of the lower cabinents when we moved to this house.

    I have Jack Russells and like the Shelties mentioned above, they are too smart for my own good sometimes. Luckily, they usually use those smarts for good, not evil.

  35. Forgive them for they know not what they do! Our 2 Labs our are 2nd children, spoiled rotten, and accustomed to living like human beings. One must experience the joys of being aced out of your bed by 2 seventy lbs dogs who are up at 5:30 am and are cold, demanding to get under the blankets!

  36. @#15, David

    “Difference between dogs and cats: a dog can be taught not to do something; a cat can only be taught not to do something while you are looking.”

    The answer is the Blender Defender. :) I wish I had the technical know-how to make one… (and yes, I love the kitties dearly! :)