Of the four dogs I have owned, Viola is the only one that I adopted as an infant and after my experiences with her, I have sworn that I will never adopt another one.
When she was a puppy, Viola was the very devil dressed in a white fur costume. There was nothing that she wouldn’t chew, or that was safe from her needle-like puppy teeth.
I firmly believed she could chew through a pair of leather shoes in less time than it would take a shoal of piranha to get through an entire cow.
I chalked most of the chewing up to teething and was more indulgent of her than I would have been of my adults (who I believed to know better). This was a mistake — one of many that I made in raising Viola.
I bought her teething toys, all manner of chewy treats, anything I could think of to protect my home and possessions from the destructo-beast that she seemed to have become.
The breaking point came when I returned home from work to find her happily chomping on what looked to be wads of tissue paper. As I shooed her away from the sticky mess I realized that she had managed to drag one of my books off the shelf and had gone to town.
Then it got worse. I came across the fly leaf, fully intact. Viola had chewed up a first edition signed Stephen King book.
There aren’t words to describe how furious I was. Evidently, my frustration communicated itself to Viola without my having to open my mouth. As I lookeddown at her, she flattened her little puppy body against the ground and wiggled and panted in clear appeasement. Torn between yelling at her, putting her in a time out and sobbing out of sheer frustration, I chose to shut myself in the bathroom to take a few much needed deep breaths.
Once I had calmed down sufficiently, I got in the car and drove to PetSmart where I purchased about 10 bottles of bitter apple spray. For those of you who have never heard of it, it is essentially a chew deterrent and is meant to taste awful.
When I was a child, I used to bite my fingernails obsessively until my mother started liberally coating them in bitter alum, and that put a stop to that. I returned home, laden with the bottles, and started spraying everything in the house. Everything. The couches, the books, my shoes … everything. Then I waited.
An hour later my diligence was rewarded. Viola slunk toward one of the couches, one beady eye on me and the other on the wooden leg of the couch. She sank her teeth into one of the legs … and jolted upright, sputtering and sneezing.
It worked! It didn’t take long for her to get the taste out of her mouth, and from that moment on, she never chewed another thing in the house.
So before you resort to sprinkling cayenne pepper all over your things (which I did at one point), go with the bitter apple spray – it’s effective and won’t ruin your carpet.