Pet Proofing Your Home

February 18, 2009 at 7:00 pm 1 comment

I’m not sure how it happened but one day I looked around and found my home filled with seven golden retrievers. They range in age from 11 months to 13 ½ years and are the best family I could imagine.

Twenty-six years ago I thought about rescuing a dog but then I learned that the golden retriever I had in mind was not waiting for me at the SPCA.  In addition, I needed advice and wanted the advantages of using a good breeder.  I have no regrets and, oh yes, they are addictive; it is very hard to have just one!

With seven dogs, there is always something to do.  We attend competitions in agility, conformation, obedience, tracking and anything else that looks like fun. Any extra time is filled with exercise, grooming, play-training, and lots of house cleaning.

One of the biggest issues for me (other than the dog hair and mud) is keeping the house safe.  Like children, dogs are very adept at finding things you wish they wouldn’t. All cleaning products (including cloths) are locked in a cupboard.  I have ensured that no fragile treasures are left at tail-clearing height and that valuable papers aren’t left out to become chew toys. Clothes and shoes are never left on the floor or within easy reach. My dogs love things that smell like me and they love to retrieve.  I have become particularly good at repairing pockets that once held dog treats and have long-since accepted that if I leave it in range and they chew it, the fault is mine.

To entertain my dogs, I leave baskets filled with a variety of safe toys (stuffed squeaky toys, toys that can be filled with treats, and safe bones) in areas where we spend time together.  If soft toys get torn, they are relegated to the “toy hospital” and are repaired until there isn’t anything left to repair. 

I have a great collection of washable dog beds too…Soft cushy ones in the living room for supervised lounging (and to use at night for those who have earned “non-destructive” status), and hard-wearing PVC-framed beds for those who just can’t resist chewing. When I’m not home, all the adults hang out in the family room. After tripping on baby gates for years, I finally installed wrought iron gates at either end of the room. They keep the dogs safe, look great, and are far too high for me to even think about stepping over!

My two puppies are housed in pens in the “dog room” when I’m not home. They have lots of room and are very happy there, patiently waiting for my return.  I know they (and my home) are safe and I don’t come home to find my curtains shredded. 

Of all the dogs in my world, the most “creative” has been 13-year-old Gaelyn. When he arrived, I already knew a lot about keeping the house and yard safe for dogs (no carpet samples—with dangerous bits of nylon–used as dogs mats; no stuffed toys if I’m not watching, and no food on the counters) but Gaelyn stepped it up a notch or two. 

Gaelyn has taught me many things:

  • To remove swallowing-sized rocks from the yard (he swallowed four at eight months old and my vet (bless him) managed to get him to throw them back up again)
  • Not to leave knives on the counter or in the sink (Gaelyn appeared at the door one day with two large knives extending from either side of his face—pirate-style)
  • Not to use soft quilts as dog beds (he ate the batting from the inside and had to have his intestine cut open in eight places to remove the batting)
  • Not to take my eyeglasses off in the family room (yes, he ate them and left me with a small twisted bit of metal frame)
  • To keep the bathroom door closed. His favourite thing is to eat the toilet paper by the roll and, on one occasion, he chewed up the entire wooden holder! 
    Still, Gaelyn smiles his big, goofy grin and I forgive him.  He just has a different idea of what “edible” means.

– Maralyn Redford

Entry filed under: Pet Health, Pet Training.

Puppy Lessons for the Obama Family The Girls

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Andrew  |  February 18, 2009 at 11:28 pm

    Not to mention little things like straight pins that fall on the floor that some golden puppies find on the floor and eat…have the vet bill and straight pin in a jar as proof.

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