Winnie the Pooh, Scott Rall styleWORTHINGTON — As I sit in front of my computer, I have a 7-week-old, male black lab puppy sleeping in my lap.
By: Scott Rall, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — As I sit in front of my computer, I have a 7-week-old, male black lab puppy sleeping in my lap.
This puppy was a planned addition to my hunting crew even before Ace unexpectedly died last month.
This little man’s name is Rastus.
New puppies are really cute and a big pain in the butt. They can’t make it through the night without a potty break, and adjusting to their new surroundings takes a few weeks.
I am going to write a column next week on what new puppy owners should do with their new additions in the first six months of puppy life.
Today, I am thinking back to an episode that I endured with the very first lab puppy that I had. This dog’s name was Scout. She was a female yellow lab. She was the first dog of the first litter that Round Lake Kennels ever sold.
My daughter Brittany named the puppy Scout after the character in the book “To Kill a Mockingbird.” I never read the book, but the name stuck.
I was so excited to have the new puppy that I acted like a new dad. Scout was going to be the very best hunting dog on earth, I was sure of it.
Scout slept in a plastic vari-kennel in the family room at night. I have never let the dogs in my world roam around the house at night. There is just too much temptation.
The story begins with a bag of dried and treated pig’s ears. You can buy these in different stores and they are sold as chew bones.
Scout was given a pig’s ear to chew on by my wife, and in a short five minutes it was gone. It was turned into a snack instead of a chew toy. Then entered the, “If a little is good, then more must be much better” thought process.
Ten pig’s ears later Scout was full, fat and sassy. This little experiment in dog treats went normally until 2 a.m. the next morning.
I woke up to the high pitched scream of “WHAT’S THAT’S AWFUL SMELLLLLLLLLLLLLL?”
It took about 3.5 seconds to identify what had happened.
With all of the foreign matter deposited in Scout’s stomach, there was a gigantic nuclear eruption — and it did not exit the system as vomit. As I peered into the cage, the sight was unlike anything that I had ever seen.
In my dog world, diarrhea if often referred to as spray paint. Scout had done a very thorough job of adding at least three coats to the entire interior of the cage. This was a sight to behold. Scout was no longer a yellow lab but had been transformed into a brown lab.
“What is the next step?” I thought.
I looked for a clothes pin to put over my nose, but couldn’t find one.
I had to get the dog out of the blast zone, and made the mistake of opening the door a little too fast. Scout burst out right on to the new carpet that was installed just a week or so earlier — light beige carpet and dark brown spray paint.
I could have been a mountain man tracker. There were animal tracks everywhere. By the time I realized what had happened, it was too late to do anything about it. So Scout and I hurried downstairs to the basement where the dog bath was to immediately take place.
Scout was not used to this operation as this was one of her first baths, and this effort was not very much fun.
I finished that and went to see what Step 2 would be. I spent the next hour and a half mopping the hard surfaces (Pine-Sol is my friend) and spot cleaning the carpet (Resolve is also my friend) in every place that a dog had stepped.
Remember, all of this was taking place in the midst of an odor that would kill an elephant.
It was now about 3:30 a.m. I looked in the cage and pondered how to remove the blanket that Scout just had to have to be comfortable. I then learned the lifelong lesson that blankets are bad! I folded and folded and folded some more, and then dashed with blanket for the basement where the laundry room was.
I washed the big stuff off in a tub and added the blanket to the washing machine. I figured that I could advance to Step 3 and suffered a substantial setback in the plan. It seemed that no matter how hard I had tried to fold that blanket just right, it had dripped spray paint the entire distance from the TV room all the way through the house to the basement. I then repeated Step 2 all over again. Another hour or more had now passed.
All that was left (Step 3) was to clean the plastic vari-kennel. The prospects of this part of the operation seemed quite straightforward. I got a garbage can, added a liner and grabbed three rolls of paper towels. I would cowboy up and finish this nightmare. Before I entered the debris field I took a really deep breath and stuck my head in the cage and started cleaning. Each time a new wad of paper towels and another deep breathe. All was going as well as it could until disaster struck.
I took a deep breath and entered the cage to reach the back, and as I entered the cage, I got stuck in the doorway. As I backed up the cage just followed.
I was running out of air and then it happened. I reached my nose over to one of the vent slots, exhaled and prayed that I could get a breath of fresh air. It didn’t work. I was trapped in the worst smell that I had ever encountered and it seemed there was no way out.
Several very shallow breaths later, I managed to free myself and sat in the TV room at 4:30 a.m. in a semi-hallucinatory state.
I, at that moment, remembered the story of Winnie the Pooh who stuck his head into Rabbit’s hole to say hello. While he was visiting Rabbit, Rabbit shared some honey with Pooh and Pooh also had the, “If a little honey is good then lots of honey must be better” mentality. Pooh ate too much honey and became stuck and could not exit.
Sounds familiar doesn’t it?
He stayed for a while and eventually got free.
I was just like Pooh, stuck in the opening of one of nature’s worst natural disasters and I, too, could not exit.
I finished the fiasco at 6 a.m. and upon completion showered and got ready for work. Something like this could only happen to me.
The whole adventure was quite traumatic and I learned several very important life/dog lessons.
First, your sense of smell will eventually return but never with the same sensitivity as before.
Secondly, pig’s ears in moderation are OK, but 10 is never an appropriate number. They have never again entered my house.
Finally, Blankets are for people, and labs don’t need one. That rounded out the lessons that I’d learned.
As Rastus sleeps in my lap, I wonder if he will teach me any more life/dog lessons.
If he does, I hope that are less life-altering than the one Scout taught me.
I have a saying that puppies are nice, but big dogs are better. The problem is that you normally can’t get a big dog with out first have a little one.
One needs to remember that puppies are way more than soft and cuddly. The ability to cowboy up is sometime required.