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Some of my stories are published in:
A Cup of Comfort Devotional for Mothers and Daughters (Adams Media, 2009)
Chicken Soup: What I Learned from the Dog (2009)
Love is a Flame (Bethany House, 2010)
Extraordinary answers to Prayer (Guideposts, 2010)
Love is a Verb (Bethany House, 2011)
Big Dreams from Small Spaces (Group Publishing, 2012)

Monday, March 28, 2011

The Crazy-Evil-No Good-Stinky-Bad Dog

This kind-of sad, kind-of funny tale of a truly bad dog has remained in my memory for forty years. It is an illustration of what happens when bad behavior is not nipped in the bud. Throughout my mothering years, the memory of Kip admonished me to persevere in training my children to behave as responsible, considerate and respectful citizens.

When I was a teenager, growing up in northern California, we adopted a collie pup named Kip.
I think Kip was a bad egg from the beginning. Like his mottled fur, his blue-brown eyes expressed a kind of odd and desperate ambiguity about his "people" and his new environment.

Maybe if we'd started training Kip during his puppyhood his craziness could have been controlled and he'd have learned to obey.
I think Kip thought he was the alpha dog and we were his pack.

My mother never learned to put the kitchen garbage can under the sink and behind solid cabinet doors. As a result, Kip learned that discarded treats beckoned within that receptable, mixed among plastic meat wrappers, old school papers and junk mail.
When one of us tried to get Kip out of the garbage, he kept us at bay with ferocious growling and bared canines.
One day, he even sank his teeth into my brother's arm.
We had another collie named Trina. As Kip grew into a seventy-pound adult, he quickly established dominance over the smaller female. Whenever one of us family members scolded him, he'd run over to Trina and gnaw on her muzzle.
None of us liked Kip, except for my mother. She coddled him and overlooked his many flaws as if he were an errant but much-loved child. He badly needed training, but my mother thought that Kip would respond well to love and affection. Too bad we didn't have a tv show called The Dog Whisperer back then.

The booms and scrapes and screeches of the Monday morning garbage truck run terrified Kip. I'm not sure if it was solely the ungodly sounds of the garbage truck. Maybe Kip had seen the big, burly, scary men who traipsed down our long gravel drive to retrieve the garbage can.
No doubt, Kip could hear the truck coming from a long way off. The dog's terror and his attempts to find a safe place --usually in the soot-encrusted fire place --on Monday mornings exasperated the entire family. "Mom, Kip's getting worse each day. Why don't we take him to a trainer who can help us work with him?"
But Mother had five kids and a house and a husband. Life happened and Kip never got his training.

Eventually, Kip came to behave as if each morning were Monday morning. Some traffic sound early in the morning alerted him and the diabolical dog would turn my doorknob, then burst into the bedroom and jumped onto my bed. Trembling and slobbering, Kip would try to hide behind me. Maybe I could have put up with his shaking body, but the umpleasant gases that hissed out of his backside as a result of his terror proved to be too much.
As a teen, I treasured each additional minute of sleep before the alarm went off. If I could just get that darn dog out of my bedroom, maybe I could sleep another ten minutes.
Have you ever tried to wrestle a seventy pound dog off of a bed, across 12 feet of carpeted floor and out a door?
Not so easy when you're only a mite heavier than the animal and he's fighting you every step of the way.
I usually succeeded in thrusting the dog out, slamming the door shut and locking the door. (House rules said that you only locked the door when dressing.) But by then, my heart pounded from the workout, my hands reeked of doggy odor and I was fully and frustratingly awake.

One early Monday morning, before any traffic noises alerted Kip, someone must have put him out for a potty run.
An hour later, my alarm went off just about the same time that I heard the garbage truck approaching our address. Where was Kip?

When I came home from school later that day, I asked my mom, "Where's Kip?"
She didn't know, and neither did my Dad or anyone else in the family.
Kip never did return. I'm sure he came to a bad end.
My mother grieved.
The rest of us rejoiced.

"No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it." (Hebrews 12:11)


  1. My son and daughter-in-law have a dog who would be better off someplace else. She has caused much damage because she hates to be alone. When you have two people working the inevitable happens. My son loves the dog, my daughter-in-law would be happy without her.
    Maybe she'll disappear...

  2. Diane, we later had a dog who was an escape artist. I wrote about him in Chicken Soup: The Houdini Dog. Eventually, when he'd disappear, we all kind of hoped he wouldn't reappear. But that darn dog always came back!

  3. Oh, Dena, I can picture that dog barging into your room.

    I've been blessed with a good dog in the past. We had two cats, one so bad and one so compliant. Sarah eventually calmed down, but she never quite lost her mischievous edge.

  4. Susan, he was the craziest dog! I'm sure, with a little discipline, he would have been an okay dog. Later, when I had my own dogs, I made sure to train them as puppies to be well-behaved.