No matter what I think I know about dogs, I have discovered there is always more to learn. The two lovely boxers I recently pet-sat for reminded me of this fact. They were shy, sweet, and eager to make friends (and very happy to accept treats from me). And, apparently, at least one of them likes to chew on slippers.
This was my first weekend alone with these two, and they were cautious but friendly, so I felt fairly comfortable with them. We took walks, we watched TV, and we ate our meals together. Then we went to bed and got up the next morning and repeated those steps.
At some point in the morning, I decided I needed to do a bit of grocery shopping, so I reread the instructions the owner had left me regarding leaving them by themselves. I had thought I had taken all the precautions the owner had mentioned: moving the pillows off the bed, closing the doors that needed closing, and moving the dog bed into the bathroom.
Confident in my leave-taking measures, I took off my slippers and put on my sneakers. I did notice that the owners had left their slippers in the entryway, which was closed off by a door, but I thought that was just to make it easier for them to get them on after a long day at work. That should have been my first clue.
But I failed to see what is now so obvious – they were out there for another reason. However, given that the dogs had several stuffed animals to chew on and they were mostly intact, I didn’t think much of it at the time.
When I returned about an hour later, I noticed that my earmuffs were in the living room. They had been decimated, but the parts were all there, even if spread out over a large area. Then I noticed my slippers. They had previously had two small pom-poms on the outside of each one. The pom-poms were now gone, and the slippers were clearly missing large chunks. When I casually wondered aloud who might have eaten them, the female looked very guilty and slunk away. After I assured her that she was not in any trouble, I pondered what to do next.
I would like to say that I calmly texted my veterinarian friend and asked if I might call and explain the situation to her. But after years of working in a veterinary office, all of the worst things I’ve seen went racing through my mind, and by the time I actually dialed her number, I was in a panic. The vet indicated that the pom-poms would most likely pass through the female dog without any trouble, but recommended I feed her some carrot. Dogs don’t actually digest carrot, so when you see it on the other end, it indicates that things are passing through as they should.
I found carrot and what looked like some stuffing the next morning. However, a week went by before I received a text from the owner that the pom-poms actually exited the same way they came in. While this surprised me, the owner indicated that this kind of thing happens when she eats something inedible.
I will say that this experience has caused me to revise my thinking about new pets. I will attempt to be more observant about what the owners do, and emulate that. And I’ll always leave my slippers in the entryway, even though they have been relieved of their pom-poms.
(Sarah Caton owns All Paws Pet Sitting, which serves all of Lincoln County.)