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Pet wear and tear makes mark on home

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Don't you just hate it when you find out your parents were right?

Well, after two years of home ownership, I have to admit that Mom and Dad were right dogs do not belong in the house.

It might have worked, if I'd only had the one dog. But the freedom of owning my own home went to my head, and shortly after moving in I decided to get a second dog.

Why? Because it's my house, and I can have as many dogs as I want. So there!

Although I already owned Bella, a white German shepherd with the regal, reserved air of an aristocrat, a true lady among dogs I went out and got Zoe.

Zoe is no lady.

She came to me from a newspaper ad. She was sharing a house with two other dogs, three cats and a ferret. I have never seen so many fleas, and such huge ones, on an animal before. I had to dip her before she could go in the house.

Part Labrador, part shepherd and, apparently, part razorback hog, Zoe has left an indelible mark on my home. A big, greasy mark.

I tell my friends I chose her name from a movie, "Killing Zoe," which I rented the same weekend I got her. It was appropriate. I think about killing Zoe all the time.

The contrast in my two dogs' personalities, and therefore their destructive tendencies, is marked. Bella would be at home in a royal court, gracefully reclined in a bejeweled collar at the feet of a queen. Zoe would be at home outside a rusted-out trailer home, tied up with frayed electrical cord and gnawing on a tin can.

Obviously, two dogs shed twice as much, have twice as many muddy paws, smell two times worse, have twice as many accidents and upchuck twice as many horrible dead things on the carpet as one.

They also eat (and excrete) twice as much and are basically double the trouble (and, OK, double the fun).

Before you let your fuzzy friend (or, God forbid, two fuzzy friends) share the interior of your new home, learn from my experience:

?An annoyed dog can gouge quarter-inch ruts in a stile-and-rail door with her claws. Things that annoy Zoe include my going anywhere or doing anything without her.

?Carpenter's wood filler and touch-up paint are gifts from God.

?A dog will vomit so as to inflict the most damage.

?It costs more than $50 to replace the (shattered) Plexiglass window and (shredded) screen in a storm door.

?Most odor-control products are not the equal of eau de canine.

?The more treasured an object, the more likely it will be used as a teething ring.

?From a dog's point of view, the kitchen trash can is a big buffet in a box.

?A cunning dog can smuggle nasty things into the house by carrying them inside her closed mouth, only to unveil them, on the carpet at your feet, later. Preferably while you are eating.

?A dog standing on her hind legs can eat leftovers right off the stove. Before they have a chance to become leftovers, in fact.

?Anything you leave on the floor in a room with a bored dog will become a chew toy.

?Some dogs apparently have a preference in shoes. Zoe exclusively chewed shoes for the right foot. From 13 different pairs of shoes.

?The water in the toilet bowl just has more character than the water in that stupid dog bowl.

?A fenced-in yard only works if your dog does not jump or burrow. Bella jumps. Zoe burrows.

?The more disgusting whatever your dog just ate was, the more she wants to lick you in the face.

?You can only cover so many stains in the carpet by moving furniture and adding area rugs.

After spending hundreds of dollars to repair, replace and clean my damaged property, both real and personal, you would think I'd have at least gotten rid of Zoe.

But I can't. She's family now.

And, while there are some serious drawbacks to having indoor-outdoor dogs, they do make up for it in ways that cannot be bottom-lined. They give me loyalty and affection. They make me feel secure.

Besides, Zoe's getting better. Last week, she tried to wake me up to let her out at 4 a.m., and I ignored her. Startled awake by the subsequent sound of claws on porcelain, I went into the bathroom to discover she had pooped in the bathtub.

Hey, 10 points for neatness.

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