This week’s ‘Stare of the Dog’ comes with an adult theme and a shocking public admission; my pet is a pervert. That’s right, I’ve decided to break Dudley’s confidence and expose his more sordid and nefarious habits to the world, for I believe would-be Labrador owners deserve to know exactly what they are letting themselves in for.
I first made the discovery that every Labrador is essentially a deranged pervert when staying with my wife’s parents, who at the time owned a brace of the furry beasts. Having studied the stealthy way in which both dogs would spirit away everyday objects without trace, I quickly learned there would always be a level of uncertainty attached to the whereabouts of my shoes and underwear following a night spent at my in-laws. My worst fears were promptly confirmed one morning when I discovered an embarrassing collection of under garments on arranged in a linear pattern down their staircase and, feeling confident that no humans were to blame, felt suitably emboldened to wagg a suspicious finger at Mac, their loveable simpleton of a brown Labrador. Worse still, anecdotal discussions over the breakfast table that morning revealed a list of previous house guests whose underwear had suffered the same ordeal over the years.
I was therefore not in the least bit surprised the first time I found Dudley in our bedroom rifling through the dirty clothes basket like a black bear pilfering discarded foodstuffs from a holiday season camp ground. Retracting his head from inside the basket’s wickerwork frame like an inverse tortoise, he emerged nonchalantly with a pair of pants hanging limply from his mouth before retreating to our bed to survey his ill-gotten gains. Sometimes, garments escape with a light mouthing, yet often our underwear is not so lucky. Numerous pairs of pants have been rendered useless thanks to a deft and surgeon like incision from Dudley’s teeth. In contrast, slippers have so far escaped his destructive molars but not his kleptomania. Somehow with great skill and dexterity, he manages to remove the insoles on every pair, before taking the remainder to his bed where they lie abandoned and forgotten like carcasses in a lion’s enclosure. I suppose it is the smell that attracts him to them, certainly mine have an aroma that is not for the feint hearted.
And don’t think for a minute that your clothes are safe when clean, as I found out. The mere sound of my sock drawer sliding open is now enough to scramble Dudley from his slumber like a Battle of Britain pilot. From the moment I reach in for a pair of the things, I am in a race to get them on my feet before he arrives in the bedroom, so much so that putting my socks on unmolested is a task I can only experience after retreating to the sanctuary of the bathroom with its lockable door. This Labrador trait has become so well developed in Dud that I have come to accept it, and now I relish the daily struggle to retrieve my socks from his snapping jaws. Sliding my feet into damp cotton each day is admittedly a considerable downside to our boyish tomfoolery, but nevertheless a price I consider worth paying.
Dudley’s unabashed acts of criminality are seldom restricted to the bedroom either. On numerous occasions, pre-washed socks have been removed from inside the washing machine and discovered weeks later, buried deep within his bedding. Once washed, things don’t fare any better. Garments left to dry on a rack in our house can expect no quarter from Dudley, who at times has had the effrontery to help himself to a sock from one side of the clothes horse as I am busy loading up the other. As well as being forced to dry clothes inside, the winter months mean gloves and hats are thrown into the mix also. Dampened by a wintry drizzle and left alone unguarded on a radiator to dry, they must fend for themselves like newborn Antelope as Dudley prowls about the place like a hungry leopard.
To be fair to the lad, he is by no means the worst Labrador I have witnessed when it comes to wonton theft. The aforementioned Mac for one was just as bad, with a charge sheet stretching into six figures and including the spiriting away – and most likely burying in the garden – of an expensive pair of fireproof gauntlets. Thankfully, Dudley’s crimes are less frequent but arguably more sordid in nature, something I am prepared to blame on the ‘brown’ gene.
Of course, I am convinced that the worst is yet to come. It is only a matter of time before my wife and I are treated to the mortifying spectacle of him trotting triumphantly into our lounge clutching in his mouth a ‘haul of smalls,’ each delicate pair raided brazenly from the opened suitcase of a visiting guest.