The scary thing is, I didn’t even know it was possible to tear up a tennis ball.
As some of you may know, I own a young Jack Russell terrier. His name is Leo. By “owning” a young Jack Russell terrier, I mean, of course, that I live with a Jack Russell terrier, which is a whole other thing. I’m not sure living with a Jack Russell terrier has an equivalent. I can’t remember when my daughter was 5 years old, but I’m going to say that living with one of these dogs must be similar to living with a 5-year-old human.
I’m a dog person. I love all dogs (well, except for the mean ones). Whenever we print a photo of a dog up for adoption, I want to run down to the shelter and scoop him up and take him home. I believe all dogs deserve a good place to live. They are our friends. No dog ever started a war. No dog ever hijacked an airplane. No dog ever crashed a financial system.
The other day, at a local restaurant, I spotted a homeless dog. It was just wandering around the parking lot, looking for something to eat. As I sat inside having lunch, I watched the dog consume a strip of nasty-looking plastic — probably part of a wind-blown garbage bag. Needless to say, I felt pretty bad.
No one else paid the dog any attention, so I left about a quarter of my cheeseburger uneaten and took it outside. By the time I got to the parking lot, the animal had gone around the corner, perhaps in search of another strip of plastic. I left the food on the ground for the dog to find.
I’m a bit of a cat person, too. I essentially got Leo as a “brother” to the last cat I owned, who unfortunately did not make the move to Oklahoma. (He reportedly has a new family.) I think owning both a cat and a dog makes a good balance. One loves you immensely, the other couldn’t care less about you as long as there is a steady supply of food. It makes for a very Zen household.
However, the problem now is that Leo is bored. I spend much (much, much) of my time at work, which means he is left to his own devices in the backyard. Fortunately, my neighbors are also dog owners, so I imagine he has lots of interesting conversations through the fence with all his fellow canines. He gets excited to play ball when I come home because it gives him a chance to show off for his larger, older buds next door.
Playing is one thing, but eating things he should not is entirely something else.
For example, I opened the back door the other day to find that he had drug up (from somewhere) a flower pot. This was interesting in that I do not own a flower pot. Did you know it was possible to break a flower pot down into 49 million separate pieces? It was a fascinating discovery, if one I could have lived without.
To try and give Leo as many harmless objects to destroy as possible, I bought him some new tennis balls and a thick, sturdy rawhide chew toy. I figured he’d get two, maybe three days’ play out of them.
The rawhide chew was the first to go down. It lasted about about two hours. He ate it. I haven’t seen it since.
So, OK, fine — he still had his new tennis balls. I noticed him rolling around on the floor with one. Great! I could watch The Hurt Locker in peace. Except, an hour later, I found the same ball gutted on the living room floor — surgically opened, eviscerated and strewn in a million pieces. It looked like someone had dropped a bank vault on that ball from seven stories up.
I’m thinking now I should just buy him his own living room furniture. Mine will probably last longer.