By Jim Tedford, Director of Animal Affairs and Alliances
I am betting that since you’re reading the PetSafe blog, you have an above average interest in pets. Yep, not much gets past this razor-sharp mind! Having dedicated my entire life to improving the welfare of animals, I’m right there with you! I shamelessly love animals. And there is where the dilemma begins…
Is it possible to absolutely love animals, especially our constant companions like dogs and cats, and want to send them to the nearest shelter on occasion? I hope so. My pets add immeasurably to my life and they enrich me in ways that no mere human ever could. BUT, as much as I adore them, they occasionally do something unspeakable that makes me want to convert my house into one of those sterile, fur-free homes where it’s safe to own white furniture and white carpeting… and white shirts!
Many years ago I adopted a Jack Russell Terrier. I could probably stop the story right here… simply reading the words Jack Russell Terrier probably forced your mind to go places that are incomprehensible to most clear-thinking people, but are frequent stops for those of us who proudly call ourselves “ANIMAL PEOPLE.” Jackson was a Jack Russell…a Jack Russell times ten. He started life as a New Orleans street dog and that somehow made him even tougher than the average JRT. Most of the time he was charming— even mesmerizing to watch. He was quick so it was a bit like watching a tennis match on fast forward, but he was so joyful and so much fun that his hyperactivity was endearing.
But his ability to wreak havoc and cause serious destruction was the stuff that keeps insurance agents up at night. Once he crawled through a third story window that was opened just a crack. Had it not been for the width of his pelvis, he would have plunged to his death. Instead he just dangled there barking till he was rescued.
Jackson had no qualms about eating walls, doors, window frames, landscaping… you get my drift. The word-count on this post would exceed all limits if I listed all the things he destroyed. He wasn’t consistent though. It was only some of the time, and the triggers were not always obvious. If only I had known back then what I know now about all the great training and behavioral enrichment products offered by PetSafe…
Years ago a friend who lived in an apartment adopted a boxer puppy. The kitchen walls of the apartment were covered in outdated (and offensive) wallpaper – one of those patterns that was unattractive even when it was new. He decided to corral the puppy in the kitchen with a baby gate. Good plan, right? Wrong. Rather than chewing through the gate, she created her own little doggie door by chewing an escape route through the kitchen wall. No big deal…a drywall patch (yep, I know how to do that) and some paint will take care of it, right? Wrong, again… how does one patch 20-year-old wallpaper? The answer… one does NOT. One replaces the wallpaper in the entire kitchen if one wants any hope of a return on that security deposit!
Just last weekend, our yellow Lab, Sam, decided the air conditioning in the house was not good enough…he needed a hole in the gorgeous, pampered, mature flower bed right outside the front door. I could go on for days…
Over the years, we’ve had lots of wonderful animals, many of whom have caused extraordinary property damage. As the old cliché goes, “necessity is the mother of invention.” Cats scratch stuff and regardless of how much you spend on scratching posts, they often prefer door frames. Dogs like to dig.
If the biggest price I have to pay for pet ownership is that I have to learn how to use a miter saw to repair chewed/scratched/soiled moldings or keep a paint brush handy for grease spots on the walls or strategically replace throw pillows to cover “the spot” on the sofa… it’s a price I’ll gladly pay.
Post your best “property damage horror story” and tell us how you “fixed” it! This could turn into a fun game of one-upmanship!
Jim Tedford serves as PetSafe’s Director of Animal Affairs and Alliances. Working on the front line of animal welfare for over 20 years, Jim has served as CEO for organizations in New York, Louisiana and Tennessee. Prior to joining PetSafe, Jim provided marketing and fundraising services to animal welfare organizations nationwide. Jim holds a degree in animal science from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. Jim and his wife Ann share their “empty nest” in the Smoky Mountains with adopted dogs Bodie, Sam, and Lila and a formerly homeless macaw, Gipper.