White Dog in all of her years destroyed only two items: a paper voucher at 4 months and the crossrail of a snack table when she was teething. Hers is a standard of perfection to which we hold none of the other White Dog Army.
Bailey, a rescued backyard mill breeder girl, never lived in a house (other than briefly with her rescue foster). She never learned the treasures a home holds. She never was taught the distract from bad behavior; reward good behavior; the timeout. Essentially a 65-pound puppy of adult growth came into our pack at seven years of age.
Bai has been with us a few months now. She was a perfect fit from the start from our perspective; she now seems to be relaxing into agreement.
It is a wonderful time when a new recruit to the Army makes the realization that being here IS forever and always. That they are safe. That they need not hold their breath. That who they are is accepted and loved even if actions sometimes bring anger. But this is also a time of gentle training and directing as skills never learned require development.
Now that she is comfortable Bailey is intensely curious about all manner of communal life. She has a concept of personal belongings, hers, because it was critical to survive as a mill dog. She has NO idea that SOME things are NOT hers and must be left alone.
Things that are sheltered in drawers or which are not part of our mainstream capture her interest and fixation. At those times we can initiate an "exchange" for treats, a firm "Leave It!" or grab a collar and demand a timeout. It is when we are not monitoring that our Beautiful Blue Eyed Girl gets herself into trouble.
Like the time this afternoon as I worked in the office and Bailey decided my pen (I am a fiend for using nice pens) after all of these months caught her attention. It sat on the cart next to the momma chair as always but THIS day the pull was overwhelming and she ate it...well actually mangled would be a better description as no parts were missing. I was angry and let her know with my tone that she had crossed a boundary. I gave her a squeaky toy.
And pulled from deep in the cart my old retired pen that had traveled the world with me. I smiled at the memories it evoked as I carefully put it where I thought it was hidden and out of reach of my curious girl. Plus I thought she would be over the fascination AND would remember disappointing me.
Steve's expression when he came in after dinner caused me to sigh before asking a terse "WHAT?" He held out my red pen, my Tombow. It was chewed from clip to cap. I could not even remove the endpiece.
Bailey walked in behind him, her head hung low. "Why?" I asked her. "I ASKED you not to eat my pens. This was important to me!" She slunk from the room as I chanted, "it is only a thing, it is not important."