Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Hogan McSmalls Has A Lot Of Balls

Hogan McSmalls has balls, man.

Well, he doesn't actually have balls.  That might be part of the problem.  We had them removed upon adopting him, per the Los Angeles City Ordinance and stuff.  And, you can kind-of understand how having your balls removed right before you go live with someone might not make you your best self.  I mean, that has to be traumatic, right?  More traumatic than realizing the couple who adopted you are clinically clean neatniks who never leave food out and don't decorate with tennis balls.  More horrible than realizing you cannot pee inside the tennis ball-free space they've provided for you and that your cell mate is of the feline variety.  Yup, having your balls chopped off has got to suck.

However, back to my (much) earlier thought, my dog, Hogan McSmalls, has them.  Big ones.

In the last week, my short fat dog has opened a door with his paws, leaped over a baby gate, used drawers as steps to climb onto the kitchen counter, shattered a glass, attacked my cupcake holder and scattered various utensils around the living room.  All when left alone in the house.  When we're around, he's a chubby adorable trick-doing angel.

It all started with the trash can.  Dear dear Hogie was a street dog.  He was accustomed to getting his dinner in alleyways instead of a glossy blue and orange bowl lovingly picked out at a local pet boutique.  So, even with two squares a day for five years, he's still always on the lookout for more food.  Kind-of like grandparents always stockpile Dr. Pepper because of the Great Depression.  (Wait, they don't all do that?!) To supplement his diet, he'd knock over our trash can and get his fuzzy grub on.  We moved to a place with a fancy sliding trash can built into the cabinetry in the kitchen.  He figured out how to open it within days.  We child-proofed it, which kept him from opening it but he decided to go ahead and destroy the outside of it anyway, just for shits and giggles.

The trash safely tucked away, he decided to move on to other options.  He taught himself how to open cabinets, particularly cabinets that house dog food.  Hogan's food is kept in a twist-on air-tight container that is supposed to protect it from bugs and air and little critters.  I'll admit it looks pretty fool-proof but the makers of this fine product did not account for smart determined dogs who can unscrew the top with their teeth.  I once walked in to find Hogie's head in the plastic bin and half the food already in his stomach.


We moved the food to the hall closet.  We closed the door between the front of the house and the back of the house so he'd have to go through two doors to get to his food.  Stuck in the living room and kitchen and with no access to trash or dog food, he decided to attack the recycling.  Nothing was safe.  Clearly the recycling bin had to go in the hall closet as well.  Now the dog was locked in the front of the house with nothing remotely edible in striking distance.  What's a hungry canine to do?  Open up drawers and use them as steps of course!  We would arrive home to find multiple drawers and cabinets open and paw prints on the kitchen counter.  One time I walked into the living room and wondered what the three black balls on the rug were.  They were avocado seeds.  Hogie ate the entire avocado, skin and all.  Three times.  For days after, the husband and I joked we were picking up guacamole with our poop bags.

We tried putting a dowel through the cabinet handles.  We moved all food up to the highest cabinets even though we could barely reach it now.  I got him a collar that was supposed to have a calming effect.  That particular day, he pretended to be asleep when I discovered he'd opened every drawer and cabinet in the room and had apparently used a plastic watering can as a chew toy.  Not calm.  If anything, he was even more devious.

Then one day, I thought, a-ha!  Why don't we put him in the back of the house when we leave since all the food he's trying to get to is in the front of the house?  (Sometimes I get things!)  We did just that and arrived home to our furry little MacGyver greeting us enthusiastically at the front door.  How did he get through the closed door?  He turned the doorknob of course!  Next we tried putting a baby gate in between the dog and the door.  He leaped over the baby gate, opened the door and resumed his usual kitchen party.  Finally the husband went out and bought a doorknob for that door with a lock.  We locked our pooch in the back of the house and went out for a couple of hours.  When we came back, we congratulated ourselves for being so smart!  He was clearly still in the back.  He had not picked the lock as I'd somewhat expected him to do.  Maybe this was the solution!

We opened the door.  There was the dog surrounded by all of our recycling and a half-empty dog food container.  He'd opened the hall closet door.  Oops.

Now we have the recycling and the dog food back in the kitchen and the dog behind locked door number one.  It's worked okay the past couple of days.  I'm feeling a weird sense of false confidence, like the heroine in a horror movie strutting home for that much needed shower after surviving the night and killing Freddy or Jason or whomever.  But, I know it's just a matter of time before the killer comes back to life, the dog figures out something else to destroy and I have to clean up another mess.  Because my dog is smart.  And he has balls.  And, I, (because I love the crazy animal), have patience.

*photo by me, yo.