Of Socks and Snails and Puppy Tales

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I know my dog CP has an issue. I’m just not certain what the issue is. CP, as Constant Reader might remember, is the Cocker/Poodle/Whatever mixed breed dog I got from the shelter last summer. He is, to my way of thinking, patently adorable.

CP stands, variously, for Cutie Patootie, Cocker/Poodle or Crazy Puppy. Lately, I’ve begun to think the latter is the most apt.

CP has developed a sock fetish. It started out with him rooting around in my laundry basket and removing each and every sock to his lair on my bed. If the cat jumps on the bed, CP is on instant alert, growling low and as menacingly as someone that fluffy can. The cat just looks at him as if to say, “You are such a knucklehead.”

Of course, this is the same cat who brought me a slug for breakfast the other morning, so he’s really not one to cast aspersions. I guess he thought it was about time for some escargot.

CP doesn’t chew on the socks, he just nabs them. But if I don’t watch him every time I open the door to let him out, he dashes out with a sock in his mouth. I’m currently missing about six socks and I know they’re probably scattered all over the farm.

I took this photo last week after I had been messing with CP, taking all the socks from my drawer and leaving them all over my place, to see what he’d do. What he did was just about run himself ragged in his enthusiasm. I know this was bad and probably encouraged him in his bad sock behavior, but … I just wanted to see what he’d do.

I know one answer to this is to get a taller clothes hamper and I actually am looking for one. In the meantime, I decided this weekend that getting softer toys might make a difference. He’s a combo of a couple of different kinds of retriever and maybe he just needs a soft bird-substitute to carry around in his mouth.

I got three little stuffed animals at the pet store when I was in Kansas City on Saturday. On my way home I decided that it might make a difference if the toys carried my scent. So I stuck them up under my polo shirt and then got involved in listening to National Public Radio and completely forgot about them.

When I stepped out of the car at our local natural foods cooperative, I actually took three or four steps away from the car before little pastel stuffed animals began dropping out from under my shirt, as if I had just given birth to a chenille litter.

I looked around as I scooped them up, hoping no one I knew saw the whole thing and thought I’d stolen a bunch of stuffies. I didn’t see anyone, but I wonder if I’ve already started getting a reputation I don’t deserve. “I swear there must have been a dozen stuffed dog toys fall out of her sweater. She must have robbed a pet store. …

When I got them home, CP was very happy with the toys and actually did play with them throughout the day. As soon as I started getting ready for bed, though, there he was, lurking and dashing out to grab the sock as soon as it came off my foot.

He added it to the little stash of stuffed toys at the end of the bed.

If anyone has any insight into this behavior and a non-lethal way of dealing with it, I’d love to hear from you.