There are some things a dog should not chew . . .

When I told friends and family that we were getting a dog, most mentioned the negative impact that this decision could have on our ‘interior design’. The Boss and I have opposing views on many things but our home is not one of them. We both like it looking nice. I realised that I had married a morphed version of Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen when he suggested that we stop off to take a look around a new housing development on the way back from somewhere or other. This was not because he wanted to move there, he assured me. It was “just to get some ideas for the lounge”. Ten years of wedded bliss and I am still not sure whether it is a good thing or a bad thing to be married to someone who’s Holy Grail is to locate the ultimate armchair/sofa. (There are so many choices for resting your derriere in our house that it is beginning to look like DFS. And still the search continues.)

Dogs chew apparently. We have friends whose Lab, Ralph, chewed their dining table legs so badly that serving up a Sunday Dinner for six could have proved catastrophic. The weight of a sturdy leg of lamb, roast potatoes, selection of veg and a gravy boat would have been too much for the legs gnawed to the diameter of a knitting needle. The whole thing would have ended up on the floor. (Perhaps that was Ralph’s intention?) They replaced their table with one sporting metal legs. A wise decision and one that illustrates an important rule about dog ownership: banish the bad behaviour by removing the temptation. (This works for kids and husbands too, by the way.)

We were led to believe that our beautiful and carefully chosen wooden furniture would quickly become a wasteland equivalent to the ruined rainforests of Indonesia. Our new Oak interior doors would illicit a response of “party time!” by the new arrival, according to the Father-in-Law. And curtains and cushions would not survive the munching megalomaniac coming our way either.

The Boss and I girded our loins ready to protect and preserve our special collection of Conran furniture, Laura Ashley soft furnishings and of course the complete range of sofas and chairs. There are some things we would tolerate, a small wee on the Karndean every now and then perhaps. But obliteration of our beloved home, definitely not. I purchased a Puppy Play Pen, a Crate and researched a spray for furniture which promised to deter a canine’s canines. This puppy was going to be on lock-down.

The reality has, fortunately, been less awful than we were led to expect. Like most dogs Toffee likes shoes and slippers. She is especially partial to the Boss’s dirty underpants – one can understand that. However, Toffee’s primary choice of chew surface is mainly human hands. This is in fact a relief to us. At least our furniture is safe and it just so happens that the Boss is related to a Hand Surgeon, which is handy. (Yes, I know!) The DFS showroom has been spared and I am just a little a bit smug when people tell me how their dogs have destroyed their homes . . .

That was until yesterday when I discovered Toffee chewing something more sacrosanct than your favourite cream curtains. More important than your best handbag or the Child’s maths homework. One morning I could hear her having a fine old time gnawing away at something, but I was busy working. A little voice kept telling me: “You really should go and check on that you know” but I was immersed in writing an article about a chef from Sandwich whose restaurant had been transformed by a Combi Steamer. When I did finally check on her she was chewing that one thing that makes you feel just a little bit sick. I found the little madam chewing my electric toothbrush!

Now that really isn’t acceptable is it.

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That was then . . .

This is Toffee (aka the Tofster). She snuck her way into our family four months ago and she ain’t going nowhere. She’s cute, I’ll give her that. But don’t let her looks deceive you my friends. This Cockapoo takes no prisoners. Her goal: complete canine control.

When we first went to see her litter I reckon she thought, “Ah, I smell naivety, ignorance and a slight whiff of fear. I shall make these people my family and mould them to my own design.” I had taken the Boss as a precautionary measure: “We are definitely not choosing a puppy today. This is for research purposes only.” I had taken the Child because I wasn’t thinking. By the end of the visit, the Boss had made his selection (more Spaniel than Poodle) and the Child was so excited I thought she might spontaneously combust. We still had to wait six weeks before we could bring her home.

During those weeks I felt like an expectant mother. I had an inkling that this new arrival might change our lives forever and perhaps we had rushed into it a bit quickly. Where would she sleep? Would she keep us awake a night? Would she interfere with our social life and our holidays? Who is going to pick up the poo? Do I really want to walk a dog at 6.30am in the pouring rain?

But it was already too late. Persuading the Boss in the first place hadn’t been easy: “That’s fine but it’s your dog.” The Child was excited. I had told all my friends. The Family had been informed and had collectively responded with a raised eyebrow. There was no backing out. I had to see this thing through. I started having strange dreams about dogs picking up their own poo and going out for meals at fancy restaurants.

Naturally I shared none of my pre-puppy jitters with the Boss.

So this blog is about a cute dog with control issues and an owner who has no idea what she is doing or what she has let herself in for.

It’s for those of you thinking about getting a dog.

It’s for those of you on the same journey.

It’s for those of you who know about dogs and want to have a bit of a laugh at a first-time dog-owner’s expense.

And it’s for those of you who have the pleasure of knowing that fluffy ball of neediness that is Toffee.

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