Home Improvement Triage

Our Labrador Retriever is in a gangly, uncoordinated space between puppy and adult, commonly called, “What-is-that-I-will-eat-it.” We’ve lost a lot of our household to Zucca, a precious yellow lab who believes that shredding important documents is the way to a man’s heart.

ImageFor the last few weeks, my wife and I have come home each day with the dreadful expectation of another semi-valuable possession destroyed. Luckily, Zucca loves to eat junk mail. The downside to that blessing is the hour I have to spend in the yard, tweeser-pinching white confetti out of the grass. However, she’s recently graduated to objects whose destruction can be a little aggravating. Beyond socks (and Holly’s socks are a little expensive), she’s eaten part of my Turkish rug, an award-winning book, some mortgage documents, a lot of yellow gel tablets I haven’t been able to identify, and Holly’s glass nail file. She tried to eat the polish, as well, but couldn’t quite swallow.

Last week, I had to send my wife a message that read, “Remember how the rockers on our back porch used to have cushions? They don’t have cushions any more.”

Shame on us, for giving her over to this misbehavior during the winter. We hardly used our backyard, thus allowing her to shred evidence without oversight. It’s only because I’ve started mowing our .05 acres that I’ve had to clean up after her. It was through this that I discovered her greatest sin.

Zucca loves lattice work. The old, rough texture, the chemical taste, the rusty staples – it’s like her crystal meth. Our elevated porch was hemmed in on three sides by lattice last fall. When I began to mow our yard this spring, it was down to two. I did the mathematics: Zucca ate over forty-square feet of thin wood strips. And she still wasn’t satisfied.

In an effort to force her into good behavior – just as our mail now goes into a metal bucket, the Turkish rug stays locked in the guest room, and Holly’s nail polish is kept in a box – last weekend I bought a crowbar for eleven dollars and began ripping the wood off our porch. It took four hours, as the areas where the one-time builders couldn’t use staples, they chose to use screws then file the heads away. I managed to give myself a mild concussion, slamming the crowbar into my temple, and may have contracted multiple forms of tetanus from the different shades of rusty screws.

For Zucca, however, it was the greatest day of her life. She laid at my feet, between me and the wood, enjoying the shadow cast by the porch and occasionally snacking on some loose lattice. All the extra is now in our garage – we’re saving it as a reward for not eating anything else.