after my husband and I were married, we decided to get a dog. I
wanted a collie (I'd grown up reading Albert Payson Terhune stories), and
my husband wanted an Irish Setter. I thought Irish Setters were too
"high strung," and my husband, Ron, thought collies were too
hairy. To compromise, we bought a book on dog breeds and tried to
find a type of dog that we'd both like. After a long search, I
spotted a Belgian Tervuren, a dog that looked a bit like a cross between a
German Shepherd and a collie. The book clearly explained that this
was a very aggressive breed and that only experienced dog owners need
apply. I'd had a dog before, and dismissed the warning. The
other problem was neither of us had heard of this breed before, and had no
idea where to look for one. Coincidentally, a friend of ours was
looking at the same breed and mentioned a dog show that was going to be
held shortly. At the show, we found some Belgian Tervurens and were
able to connect with a breeder.
we visited the breeder's home, we found out that their dog had mated but
the puppies were not yet born. We put our dibs in on a female and
then went home to wait. While waiting, we argued over dog names and
finally settled on "Kippi." When the litter arrived, my
husband's department at work--who'd been given ongoing information about
the forthcoming dog--gave Ron a puppy shower. The cake said, "Yippi
for Kippi!" Before we could take Kippi home, we were told that
we needed to have three "bonding" visits with the puppy to
acclimate the dog to us and to demonstrate that we were going to be
responsible, caring owners.
had the dog for about an hour when it became clear that this was indeed an
aggressive breed. Kippi could chew through all barriers, and--even
as a puppy--was incredibly strong. When we took Kippi to obedience
school, the trainer told us, in essence, that we were too wimpy for this
particular breed. Her method for getting the dog's attention was to
pick it up and slam it against the wall until they'd made eye
contact. She was right; neither Ron nor I was up to this mode of
discipline, and the dog soon knew who was in charge.
fairly chilly, spring morning, we decided to take Kippi to the park where
Ron was later going to be playing baseball. Ron and I arrived in
separate cars as he was coming from work and I was coming from home.
Our agenda was to wear Kippi out before the game started. We'd come
up with a strategy where I would walk along the top of a hill while Ron
would walk at the bottom. Kippi, being a natural herder, would
circle up, down, and around the hill in an exhausting effort to bring us
together. After an hour or so of this, a good meal, and plenty of
water, we settled Kippi into my car (a brand new Toyota). The car
was parked under a tree, the windows were about halfway down, and--as
mentioned--the temperature was chilly enough so that having the dog in the
car was not a problem.
thirty minutes into the game, one of my friends asked about Kippi.
Always eager to show off the dog, despite her ill-behavior, I went to the
car to let her out. When I opened the car door, time stopped.
In took me a moment to grasp what I was seeing. Three seats had been
chewed nearly beyond recognition, huge chunks were missing from the
dashboard, and shards of fabric hung down from the inside of the
roof. Kippi was wagging her tail. I went to tell Ron. He
said, "Drive the dog home. I'll follow you."
car was demolished. As I drove home, I had two emotions: shock and
anxiety (despite all the damage Kippi had done, I was afraid Ron would
want to get rid of her). Numbly, I noticed the gas tank was nearing
empty. There were still full-serve gas stations then, and I was far
too rattled to fill the tank myself. When I pulled into the gas
station, and asked the attendant to "fill it up," I remember the
look he gave me when he was getting my order. Translated, his
thoughts were probably something like, "Gee, lady, nice car on the
outside, but you sure are a slob." I drove out of the gas
station, turned right, was blinded by the sun. I pulled down the
visor, but only its wire frame remained. In taking brief stock of
the damage, I noted that besides the three shredded seats, largely missing
dashboard, bare steering wheel and visor, and torn roof, that the seat
belts were nonexistent and anything that was remotely chewable had been
chewed. I wondered what Ron was going to do.
got home only seconds after I did. For a change, I didn't say a
thing. Ron, clearly, had no idea what to do. I watched while he
simmered several minutes and then grabbed Kippi. He dragged her out
to the Toyota, opened the door, shook the dog, and shouted, "SEE WHAT
YOU'VE DONE!" After dragging the dog back into the house, he
sat down again. After several minutes of resumed simmering, he
repeated the pattern: he dragged Kippi out to the Toyota, opened the door,
shook the dog, and shouted, "SEE WHAT YOU'VE DONE!" Ron
repeated this disciplinary action perhaps three or four more times.
Suggestions that the dog should go were muttered, but never acted upon.
Monday, I called our insurance agent. I never liked him. When
I'd ask a question, he would turn to Ron to give the answer. Women,
apparently weren't able to grasp the subtleties of finance and
insurance. Although even I appreciated that this was a funny story,
I didn't appreciate it when he laughed and said, "I'm afraid that if
Fido eats your car it isn't covered." After I hung up the
phone, I became increasingly irritated with our agent's condescending and
dismissive attitude. I called him back and reminded him of the
amount of insurance we carried with him and suggested that he might at least
check to see if any of the damage would be covered. When the phone
rang, it was Ron. The insurance agent, after checking, found that
pet damage to a house was not covered, but if Fido eats your car, it
was. Obviously, he preferred to give Ron the good news.
next day, I took the car to get an estimate. The claims agent, came
out, took one look, and asked if I minded waiting for a minute. He
brought back another agent to show him the "eaten Toyota," and
this process was repeated until what looked like the entire claims'
department was out gaping at the car. The men at the body shop gave
the car similar respect, and told me--in rather awed tones--that this
damage was even worse than the VW they'd repaired after two Dobermans got
into a fight in the car. The damage estimate came to about $1600, and this
was 20 years ago.
we kept Kippi. She never mellowed, and we never gained
dominance. We do, however, have an awfully good collection of dog
stories. And, perhaps, this is our fate. One of our current
dogs (a more docile breed) takes Prozac. Her name is