It is what it is: Chew on that

We’ve finally sustained some serious puppy-caused damage.

Over the past couple of years, we’ve gone from having very old dogs to very young ones. Lucy, a yellow Lab, joined the family not quite two years ago. And this past summer, we had to say goodbye to Max, who was for my wife the best dog ever.

But our house was much too quiet with just one dog, and we must’ve gotten tired of not having enough animals to trip over when we got up to use the bathroom in the middle of the night, so Leo, a black Lab mix, joined the family at the end of August. And in what feels like a heartbeat, the average age of our dogs has gone from 12 or 13 years to 12 or 13 months.

Through the years, we’ve been pretty fortunate as far as surviving the puppy chewing stage. I’ve heard horror stories from people about dogs who destroy furniture, shred drapes and tear up walls.

The first couple of dogs my wife and I adopted were a year or so old — past that chewing stage. Max was our first puppy, and the only furniture he wrecked was from my daughter’s doll house, which wasn’t too big a deal. He also chewed the tongue off a really nice pair of hiking boots, but for a gear enthusiast like me, that was a good excuse to buy some news ones.

Lucy also got her teeth on a few things, including an electric guitar cable and the nose pads off my glasses. Luckily, both were easily replaced.

Her favorite target was the roll of toilet paper in the bathroom. For a while, we kept the roll up on the counter instead of in the holder, but as she got bigger and her reach increased, keeping it away from her became pretty inconvenient for the person using the bathroom. So we actually started closing the bathroom door for the first time in years.

When Lucy hit about a year old, her chewing became more mischievous. My wife takes her running, but if she leaves without her, Lucy will go find something of hers to pull down and chew up — usually it’s part of my wife’s extensive collection of lip balms.

Lucy also likes to come along when I take my fat bike down to the beach. She watches intently out the front window every time I leave the house to make sure I’m not loading up a bicycle. When she’s felt I’ve snubbed her, she’s chewed the band off my watch (three times) and destroyed a foam exercise roller (we were finding little crumbs of blue foam all over the house for weeks after that).

But puppies force you to ponder one of the deepest questions in life — namely, do I have time to complete this task before the puppy wakes up from his nap?

Leo’s been pretty good in that department. There have been a few times when I’ve had something to clean up after not showering fast enough, but he bonded with Lucy pretty quickly, and has pretty much learned the drill from her.

So I was lulled into a false sense of security a couple of weeks ago when I left the dogs unsupervised. The kids were home from school for parent-teacher conference day, and weren’t yet out of bed when I had to go to work. I thought about sticking Leo in his kennel before I left, but he and Lucy were curled up together on a dog bed. I figured at least one of the kids would be up soon, so I decided to let sleeping dogs lie.

I guess you shouldn’t listen to every old proverb. I got a call around lunchtime from my daughter letting me know that Leo had destroyed the couch. When I called back a little later, my son told me it wasn’t that bad, so I figured the damage must’ve been somewhere in between.

As it turned out, Leo had chewed a 3-by-4-inch hole in the upholstery on one of the outside back corners of the couch. I’m figuring that Lucy had ignored our “no dogs on the couch” rule — admittedly loosely enforced — and Leo was trying to get her to get down and play with him when he found the wrong thing to tug.

It’s not the end of the world, but it’s also not something we can just replace with a quick trip to the store. We still have those swatches of fabric that you’re supposed to put over the arms that never stay in place, so I can fashion a patch out of one of those, and we could rearrange the furniture and put an end table next to the couch, but this is the first puppy damage we’ve had that won’t go away.

With two dogs less than 2 years old, I anticipate it being a good long while before we have another puppy in the house. Just like we loved our old dogs and the comfortable warmth they created in our home, we love the energy our young dogs now generate.

I just hope we can get through the next few months without any more permanent damage.

Reach Clarion editor Will Morrow at

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