“My dog eats everything, literally!”
July 15, 2019
Elsa is a cute Springador with a dark side – she’s a dog who eats everything. And not just food. Read Charlotte’s story about Elsa’s escapades.
It was never the plan to get a puppy. A dog, yes, but having always wanted to give a home to one of the thousands of unwanted dogs in rescue centres around the country, getting a puppy was not an option for me.
That is until my six-year-old daughter Ruby developed an irrational fear of dogs – to the point that if we were out walking and saw a dog I would have to lift her up off the ground so that it couldn’t get anywhere near her. She would even refuse to go to a friend’s house for tea if they had a dog.
Meanwhile, my eight-year-old animal-loving son Oscar had been pleading with me for years to get a dog and I had deliberately waited until they were both older before giving in. Having recently settled back in the UK after living abroad for a few years, it finally seemed like a good time to get a dog.
Living in a picturesque Hampshire village surrounded by beautiful countryside, we were used to seeing all sorts of dogs while out and about but as hard as we tried to acclimatise Ruby to dogs, bit by bit, nothing seemed to work.
So, thinking that Ruby couldn’t possibly be scared of a cute little puppy we, very reluctantly, chose to take on ten-week-old Springador, Elsa. Thinking it might help Ruby bond with her we let Ruby name her after the queen in her favourite Disney film, Frozen. Elsa was immeasurably cute, all black with a white bib and with tiny white patches on three of her paws. She was confident, inquisitive, immensely playful and would want to eat, or at least chew, everything she came across with her razor sharp teeth.
“… if I popped out for even ten minutes she would chew chunks out of the door frames.”
From day one, Elsa was like a dynamo – she just didn’t stop – constantly on the move, getting into everything and totally destroying everything that would fit in her mouth. This, we had expected, but looking back it was much more full on than we ever could have anticipated. If the children left any of their toys out, they would be chewed up and spat out; if you left a shoe lying around it would be comprehensively savaged. I worked from home at the time so could spend all my time with her bar a few minutes here and there. But if I popped out for even ten minutes she would chew chunks out of the door frames.
She had puppy toys galore – even supposedly extra tough toys for chewers, but these would be summarily destroyed and shredded within minutes. Within the first six months we got through six dog beds. She would destroy each one within days, ripping apart every single piece, and looking immensely proud of herself to boot. The children couldn’t bear to think of her not having her own bed to sleep in so each time, off I would go to the shops to buy another one.
One of the biggest challenges we faced was keeping her from escaping from our garden. It has fencing on three sides and a very thick hedge on the fourth. Being so small and determined, she would burrow her way through our hedge and go off on the rampage causing havoc on the loose around our cul-de-sac.
“…she had run into his house…eaten all of his cat’s food and a whole block of butter from their kitchen work surface before running riot around his garden!”
The first time it happened, we knew nothing about it until an angry neighbour knocked on our door holding Elsa on a makeshift lead demanding that we ‘take her in hand’ as she had run into his house (through his open front door), eaten all of his cat’s food and a whole block of butter from their kitchen work surface before running riot around his garden!
Suitably horrified and apologetic, we set about trying to find the hole through which she had escaped, making sure it was secure and checking the rest of the hedge for possible escape routes. We thought we had it covered – until the next time she escaped. This time, she was found by a different neighbour who had seen her running across a road and leaping over someone’s garden fence!
It was time to get a fence put up around the hedge – we couldn’t risk her getting loose again. She could cause a car accident, get run over, knock someone over. It didn’t bear thinking about.
It was a similar story with recall. As much as we spent time training her and going to puppy training classes, Elsa would simply not come back when called, at times. She didn’t always do it – but sometimes she would just bolt off into the distance and we spent many an hour desperately searching for her with the children crying because they thought they’d never see her again. Eventually, she got better at recall but she still has an occasional mad moment even now, four years on.
Another issue we faced was her absolutely revolting habit of eating poo. The Labrador in her seems to compel her to eat almost anything. In fact, the only thing I have ever seen her spit out is lettuce. She has eaten her own poo, other dogs’ poo, fox poo (when not rolling in it), dead and rotting animals – you name it, she has tried to eat it.
Very early on, this vile habit led to us being woken up in the middle of the night by her crying and coming into the kitchen to find what looked like a bowl of spaghetti on the floor. It was worms – giant, 10cm long, thankfully dead, disgusting worms. Clearly one of the revolting delicacies she had eaten had given her worms which, thankfully, had been flushed from her system with a dose of worming treatment. I can honestly say that the sight of those worms was the most disgusting thing I have ever seen. She has been regularly wormed, without fail, ever since.
Back then, she would quite regularly make herself ill by eating the wrong thing, despite our best efforts to stop it. But short of keeping her on a lead at all times, it was impossible to stop. You could be certain that if there was something disgusting to find on our walks, she would find it and eat it or roll in it.
It gets easier
As time went on, living with Elsa gradually became easier and easier but the first two years were immensely difficult. I remember thinking that it’s a good job puppies are cute otherwise very few people would put up with them! It made me realise why so many puppies and adolescent dogs are abandoned or given up for adoption. It’s hard work, frustrating, expensive, and if your puppy is anything like Elsa, you may have to deal with some truly disgusting sights.
So do we regret getting her? Not for a second – we absolutely love Elsa and she has become a part of our family in a way that we never thought possible. We all have fun with her and love to see her bouncing like Tigger when she finds a ball or cuddling up on the sofa with Ruby (who now can’t believe she was ever scared of dogs). Elsa is still quite a crazy character but she’s super intelligent, playful, mischievous and sweet and we wouldn’t have her any other way.