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When good dogs go bad!Posted Wednesday, February 22, 2012, at 7:25 AM
"Mitchie" was a beagle-dachshund cross, who was originally named "Michelle" by a good friend of mine, who taught with me at Cape Central. When the pup got hit by a motorcycle on her street, she decided to give her to me. My husband changed her "sissy" name to one less embarrassing for him to use when calling her in the yard.
Somewhere along the line, the little dog had developed separation anxiety. I first noticed it when I saw that the sheers on my friend's door were torn up. Susan had no explanation for this anomaly; she just found it that way when she came home from school one day, and Michelle was the only thing in the house that could have done it. Looking down into those innocent brown eyes, it was difficult to believe that the pup was the culprit.
My husband and I first saw evidence of her "illness," when we left her in the basement of our home, while we ran an errand. She came up the stairs, forced open the folding doors at the top, climbed up on the kitchen table, and ate the crust off a freshly-baked gooseberry pie that was cooling.
When we moved to Alaska in 1969, Mitchie went with us, riding in the cab of the truck which contained all our worldly goods. As we traveled the 4200 miles from Cape Girardeau to Fairbanks, Alaska, we soon learned that we could not leave our little buddy alone for ANY length of time. The first time we both went inside a restaurant to eat, we returned to find our box of powdered donuts shredded up and flung all over the cab.
However, the most outlandish incident occurred in 1974, when my son Todd was born. My labor was a long one, and my husband had to spend several long hours at the hospital. When he brought us home, there was a big trash bag sitting in the family room. Upon inspection, I discovered that it was filled with postage-sized bits of cloth and some sort of stuffing.
"What's this?" I asked, looking through the mess.
"That's the zebra-striped floor pillow that your mother gave you," Dale said.
"What happened to it?" I asked.
"When I came home from the hospital last night, it was shredded up and strewn throughout the family room, down the hall, and into the living room!" he said.
I looked at my little sweet-faced beagle, staring up at me in adoration. How was it possible? I tried to picture the scenario in my mind. The pillow pieces were no larger than an inch in diameter. How could that be accomplished? I envisioned Mitchie, bounding down the hallway with those pieces in her mouth, like some sort of fairy sprite, scattering spring flowers across a meadow.
God only knows what forces grip our ordinarily peaceful, docile pets, when they are out of our sight!
That dog was the most obedient, well-manned animal I have EVER seen! I once ordered her to go under our barn and bring me a chicken egg--and she did it! I could say, "Go get your ball!" and she would do it. I could say, "Do you want to go out?" and she would run to the door. I could ask, "Is that Aunt Doe?" and she would run look out the window.
How could a dog that smart and that obedient go NUTS and totally shred a large pillow--and then scatter the thing all over my house, knowing the trouble she would be in when I returned??
Maybe that's it. Maybe she genuinely thought that I was never coming back.
I've had dozens of dogs over the years, good loyal friends, but that little neurotic beagle still holds a place of importance in my heart. I've said it before--I pray that heaven has room for our loyal companions, If it does, then she and Dale are walking the fields of glory, chasing heavenly rabbits through the sun-filled gardens of forever.
From the sunny hills of Tillman, Missouri, this is your dog-loving rural reporter, signing out on a GORGEOUS almost-spring morning.
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Madeline (Giles) DeJournett is the Advance writer for the North Stoddard Countian. A retired high school English/history teacher, she spent 32 years teaching in 5 schools in Missouri and Alaska. These days, she lives quietly with a menagerie of wild and domestic animals on 52 secluded acres in the remote Tillman hills south of Advance. She graduated from Dexter High School in 1960 and Southeast Missouri State in 1964. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.