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Helping a Dog Who Wrecks Your Home
A friendly puppy who loved life
Bubble was one of eight dogs who became part of my family.
I never intended having so many dogs, but when they needed a home, I just couldn't say no.
A collie cross, she received her rather unusual name because her sister was called Squeak due to the constant squeaking noises she made as a puppy.
In particular on one occasion, I heard some non-stop squealing from the bedroom and when I investigated, I found Squeak had managed to jam her head under the divan bed and her little legs and paws were waving about wildly as she tried to extract herself.
So they became Bubble and Squeak from that day onwards - although Squeak later became Squeaker.
Bubble was a wonderful puppy, with the friendliest temperament you could imagine and great fun - such a happy little girl
Hard work looking after eight dogs!
I found life was very hard looking after so many dogs.
There were the two "old men", Bracken and Buster; my deaf collie, Blue; Millie, a Sharpei, who had been horribly mistreated as a puppy; the two young boys, Roy and Happy Buster (so named because he reminded me of a younger version of Buster and was always smiling) and Bubble and Squeak.
I soon found that although the older dogs (Bracken, Blue and Buster) weren't too much trouble and enjoyed lounging around on the settee or on the bed, just wanting a quiet life, the younger ones began to develop a bit of a "pack" mentality and became very unruly.
I learned multiple dogs could wreak havoc!
In the past, when I'd had just one dog, they had always been very well trained and never a problem.
But I was very inexperienced when it came to having multiple dogs and it became a full-time labour of love caring for them.
Luckily, there were two of us and my house-mate loved animals as much as I did. I could never have done it on my own.
Initially, the problem with the puppies was house-training them, which was a challenge in itself.
Imagine house-training one puppy and then multiply that by four and you will begin to imagine some of the horror stories I could relate! Decency prevents me from doing so, of course.
But suffice to say it was a long, laborious job getting them house-trained and one which I wouldn't care to repeat!
Once I had overcome this, they then started chewing everything - not only their own toys and chews, but anything else they could get their paws on, whether it was the furniture, the skirting board or a shoe, they weren't fussy!
I began to dread going out, even for short periods, because I never knew what horrific scene I would find when I arrived home again!
My friends asked to adopt Bubble
The destructiveness didn't actually bother me too much, to be honest.
I'd known knew what to expect with puppies, as I'd had two dogs in the past who were only three months old when they became part of my family, so I knew they would chew everything!
I imagined they would grow out of it and I decided I could replace any chairs or tables that became damaged by their chewing the legs.
It had been my intention to rehome them all, but I became so attached to them that I suddenly realised they were growing up fast and I didn't think I could bear to let them go.
However, I had some friends who desperately wanted a dog. They had young children and as Bubble was the friendliest and cuddliest little soul, they chose her.
Bubble settled in well at her new home
Although it was a wrench to let her go, I knew Bubble was going to a good home with close friends of mine and I wasn't worried about her, as I was sure she would be well looked after.
Sure enough, she settled in well and was soon loving life, going out for plenty of walks and playing with the children - a wonderful, well-socialized little dog.
Meanwhile, I muddled on with the others, learning how to cope with them all by trial and error.
For example, I soon learned not to feed them all in close proximity, as this lead to jealous behaviour when some of the dogs became food-possessive.
There was the odd fight over food - nothing serious, but it warned me not to leave them all in the same room when food or treats were being served.
Bubble re-joined the "pack" months later
Life was still hard with seven dogs, but we were coping.
However, I heard some worrying news - Bubble's new family had suffered a change in fortunes and unfortunately had to move house and give her up.
They asked me if I could take her back, as they didn't want her to end up in a shelter, or with people we didn't know.
I was devastated for her, as I knew how much she loved her new family.
I said straight away that I would take her back, as I couldn't bear to think of her being homeless and I still felt she was my responsibility.
So after a few months of living as the sole dog in a family, Bubble was returned to us to re-join "the pack". I thought she would integrate straight away, as she had been away for less than a year and Squeaker, Happy Buster and Roy were, after all, her siblings.
Bubble bored easily and became destructive!
I realised how much Bubble had changed and how living away from us - and being the sole dog - had made her more confident and assertive.
I guess she was accustomed to doing things a certain way, whether it was feeding, walking or sleeping. She was a very determined little dog and liked to have her own way.
Although all of the dogs were unruly to a degree, I found Bubble was prone to getting bored very quickly and chewing away at the skirting board - something the other young dogs were growing out of fast.
She also barked a lot, which set the other dogs off too, so I had complaints from my next-door neighbour about the noise. I became almost paranoid about leaving them alone in the house for too long due to their barking.
The sad thing was that Bubble was still the same sweet little dog and I loved her dearly. But I don't think she could get used to living in a house with so many other dogs again.
No longer happy as "one of the pack"
I noticed Bubble did not seem happy as one of "the pack" and was always vying for attention. I recall even when I was trying to take a bath, she came thundering into the bathroom, barging past the other dogs and demanding I stroke her!
Also, she did not get on with my old dog, Buster, who was becoming a bit of a "grumpy old man", sadly.
He just couldn't be bothered with the excitable young dogs and one day, he lashed out and nipped Bubble on the face. Luckily, she wasn't badly injured, but I felt sorry for both of them, as I was sure Bubble had been only playing, whereas Buster just wanted a bit of peace.
So I felt I needed to keep them apart after this, to avoid further upset for Buster, or possible injury for Bubble.
I arrived home to find the settee had been eaten
I was working in a local newspaper office at the time and luckily didn't live too far away, so I could go home at lunchtime to take care of the dogs.
My housemate and I tried to arrange it so the dogs were seldom left on their own for long periods, although sometimes, it was necessary to leave them, when our work commitments clashed.
On these occasions, I tried to leave Bubble in the dining room, as I felt she was struggling to adapt to life with all the other dogs again. I imagine she missed her family too, as I knew she had been with at least one family member all the time and was never left alone in the house before moving back in with me.
One day, I had to leave the dogs all alone for three hours in the afternoon while I was at work. When I arrived home, I found Bubble smiling away, surrounded by what was left of my settee.
All the cushions were in hundreds of pieces, the covers and the cushions themselves ripped to shreds all over the floor! The arms of the settee had been chewed right down to the wooden frame - there was virtually nothing left of it!
I didn't reprimand her, as I felt sorry for her. She was such a good-natured little dog and had just been bored. Strangely, I didn't mind the settee being wrecked - it wasn't an expensive one and could be replaced.
I was more concerned when my neighbours came round again, almost as soon as I arrived home, to complain of the noise.
I imagined Bubble had been throwing round the bits of the settee and having a whale of a time - and unfortunately, my dining room was directly next to their lounge, with thin walls, so they had heard everything.
They threatened to report me to the environmental health department for noise nuisance and I was afraid I'd be ordered to get rid of some of my dogs.
I tried a different approach with Bubble
Leaving Bubble in the dining room was not an option again after this, so on the next occasion when the dogs were left alone, I shut her in the back bedroom.
She had a double bed, her own bed, the radiator was left on, as it was winter, she had her food and water, her toys and plenty of hide chews to keep her occupied.
And importantly, the bedroom was well away from my neighbours' living area, so I hoped, if there was any noise, they wouldn't hear it.
However, arriving home after being out for around three hours again, I was amazed to see Bubble standing on the window ledge in the dining room, barking. The window overlooked the street at the front of the house and she would bark when she saw anyone walking past.
Bracken, Millie and Buster came running downstairs to greet me, but seemed kind of sheepish. I could always tell when something bad had happened in my absence - they all seemed pretty quiet and ran off to hide as soon as they had said hello.
I wondered if I had not closed the bedroom door properly, as I couldn't understand how Bubble had escaped.
I anxiously looked around for any signs of damage.
Huge dog-shaped hole in the bedroom door
Initially, I couldn't see any damage - all the furniture appeared to be intact - but when I went upstairs, I was astonished to see there was a hole chewed right through the bedroom door!
It was about Bubble's size and I realised she must have spent the past three hours munching her way through the wood and presumably had just escaped!
Again, I wasn't actually concerned about the door - it could be replaced - but I was more worried about upsetting the neighbours again and having environmental health wardens knocking on my door if they had complained about any noise.
I was used to arriving home to find general chaos - quite often, the bin in the kitchen would have been overturned, for example, with food wrappers strewn everywhere.
Another time, I had arrived home to find my 3ft tall rubber plant - in a very large pot in the lounge - had been somehow overturned!
There was damp soil all over my cream-coloured carpet and also splattered all over the walls, which meant the plant had actually been picked up and spun round someone's head.
The remains of the plant (the shredded, half-eaten leaves and roots) nestled in the soil in the middle of the room. This also necessitated a visit to the vet's, as I wasn't sure if the roots were poisonous to dogs.
So I was quite used to just about every kind of vandalism the dogs could inflict on my house.
But never before had I come in to find a door eaten. I was pretty shocked.
I did start to wonder what I could do, as I felt Bubble was disruptive only because she craved one-to-one attention again and was not used to being left alone in the house, after living with a family and being the only dog.
Newly-weds wanted to adopt Bubble
Out of the blue, a solution presented itself when I heard that some friends of mine were getting married and moving into a new house.
Unfortunately, both of their old dogs (a Rottweiler and a German Shepherd) had died of old age within weeks of each other some time previously and had left a big hole in my friends' lives.
They had decided that getting married and moving into a new house was a fresh beginning and that they needed a dog to complete their family.
I have to say it was a massive wrench considering letting Bubble go, as I loved her dearly. To this day, she has been the only dog I have considered re-homing, as they are part of the family.
But apart from the fact she obviously hated being left alone and craved attention, I was also worried that I would end up in trouble with the authorities if the problems continued with my neighbours. I feared this could jeopardise all my dogs' future.
I invited my friends over to meet Bubble and they fell in love with her straight away. They had wanted to take her the moment they heard about her and had already bought her a bed, new food bowls, collar and lead, chews and toys. Bubble seemed to sense they were animal-lovers and in particular, from the moment she first met the lady, she sat with her head in her lap, very relaxed.
It was inevitable that they would take her home with them from the first moment they met. Bubble adored the attention and did not even seem remotely interested in me when she met her new family!
Her sister, Squeaker, remained with me, of course, as she had a very different temperament from Bubble's and enjoyed life with the other dogs here.
Bubble loved life with her new family!
I drove Bubble to her new home to say goodbye to her there and I was delighted to see it backed on to a park, where there was plenty of grass and open spaces, so she could run to her heart's content and work off her excess energy.
Also, the husband was a gardener and was able to take her to work with him some days, so she could potter around and enjoy herself, instead of being stuck in the house.
The couple kept me up-to-date with Bubble's progress. She was an intelligent girl and they were able to train her from the outset with no problems at all. In fact, they described her as a "model dog" and said she had never done anything destructive from the moment she joined their family.
She had the one-to-one attention she craved and also loved being outdoors while her "dad" was gardening.
We kept in touch for many years and at Christmas always caught up so I could find out how Bubble was getting on. She was loving life, was much-loved and was a happy little dog, as I knew she would be.
Although I love all my dogs dearly and it was very difficult for me to give Bubble up, I'm glad I did, as it was the right choice for her and led to her having a much happier life. I wouldn't have let her go to a family I didn't know, but I knew she was joining a loving family, where she would be cared for in the way she deserved.