I like to think of myself as less squeamish than the average girl. In university when there were mouse corpses to dispose of, I was one of the lucky housemates who had to take care of it. Later, when I shared an apartment with another friend I was often the one who did the “dirtier” jobs.
And then we got a puppy and I realized my limits.
Cleaning up messes, while not pleasant, really doesn’t bother me all that much. It’s part of the job. But there is one aspect of puppyhood that I really disliked.
Puppies, especially lab puppies, like to explore the world with their mouths. They will also eat anything and everything. When we first started taking Kona on walks in our neighbourhood I became aware of how much littering our neighbours did. I lost count of the number of times I had to take a cigarette butt out of her mouth (thankfully, she stopped doing that fairly quickly).
We were lucky in that she was never one to eat another dog’s leavings. But there are two particular events where I was completely grossed out. The first was having to remove slugs from her mouth. I just can’t bring myself to touch them on a normal basis and in this case I didn’t realize what they were until after I removed them.
The second was early on in her puppyhood, and thankfully something she has not repeated since. Puppy reflexes are fast, and in the time it took me to realize she was sniffing some goose droppings she had already engulfed one. I’ll be honest – I did not have the stomach to try to pry that little goodie out of her jaws.
Thankfully she grew out of those phases fairly quickly. We still need to be vigilant to make sure she doesn’t ingest anything bad for her. Kona loves the crabapples that squirrels like to bring into our back yard, but unfortunately they make her ill if she eats too much.
These days on our walks she is mostly attracted to pop/beer cans and plastic water bottles. Those I can deal with if needed, but most of the time she will respond to either a “leave it” or a “drop it”.
Thank goodness for progress!
Of course, just after I wrote the draft of this post she managed to outdo herself. I wasn’t quite focused on a recent walk. When I saw a light brown fluffy thing on the sidewalk ahead of us, it reminded me of a plush toy we had for Kona when she was younger and I didn’t react to it.
Of course, she was intently sniffing and made a beeline for it which is when I realized it wasn’t a toy – it was the dead squirrel that our neighbor H had warned me about just 2 minutes earlier. I told Kona to “drop it” and she looked up at me with the squirrel firmly in her mouth (and looking very proud of herself). I reached down to open her jaws and she released it without any protest, and off we went. Fingers crossed someone else deals with that squirrel so I don’t have to see it again!