Monday, November 7, 2011

Dogs Behaving Semi-Badly

Is some bad behavior OK?  Are there levels of bad behavior, so that some are only semi-bad? Or do we simply employ levels of tolerance for bad behavior? 

And could it be that some bad behavior is somehow endearing?

To explore these questions, let us take, for example, Wilma.

When she was young, Wilma found it uproariously fun to remove
corncobs from the compost pile and place them in random areas
of the backyard.  Not finding it all that hilarious, I informed her that
she was not to do that anymore.  Meanwhile, the compost pile enjoyed an upgrade which included a lid.  Wilma stopped playing with corn cobs. 

However, she continued to make off with garden gloves.  With impish glee, Wilma would lie in wait for me to remove my gloves to blow my nose or tuck in my shirt.  Wilma knew my habit was to take off a glove and let it drop.  So intent on having a naked hand, it could be three or four seconds before I returned my attention to the glove.  This gave Wilma plenty of time to lunge in, snatch the glove, and precede to dance around the yard with it in her mouth- the equivalent of nah nah, Keep Away! ha ha.  Eventually, my failure to be amused or chase her to get the glove back extinguished the glove robbing behavior.

Still, Wilma never fully lost the urge to take stuff that wasn't hers.  She found an outlet for this desire in the bathroom wastebasket.  When left alone at home, Wilma was given the run of the basement. Her crate was down there with a comfortable cushion and water bowl, the door left open.  This gave Wilma options.  Alas, sometimes she exercised her options by  entering the bathroom and pulling used Kleenex out of the wastebasket.  She didn't touch any other item in the wastebasket -only used facial tissue.  She would then shred the tissue and spread it around on the floor in the area just outside the bathroom door.

Needless to say, this shredding of the Kleenex does not fall under the heading of Good Behavior.  Indeed, it would not be exaggerating to say this was Bad Behavior.  Still, whenever we'd come home to find the evidence that Wilma had been messing with dirty tissue, we never scolded her, nor did we ever make any effort to stop the bad behavior.  (You know, like simply closing the bathroom door.)  Instead, while gathering up the pieces of tissue, The Handsome One or and I would typically say something along the lines of, "Wilma, why do you do this yucky thing?!"

Perhaps this is an example of taking the good with the bad in those we love.  (Or the good with the semi-bad).

The truth is, though Wilma passed away some sixteen years ago, I sometimes look wistfully at the bathroom wastebasket.

You know something else, more often than not, when I talk about Wilma, I refer to her as Saint Wilma. Either I am delusional or perhaps our loved ones are more endearing when they have semi-badness in their natures.


  1. I had a smile on my face the more I read about her. Thanks for posting about her!

  2. She sounded like fun. Hair Ball will at times chew holes into the carpet and one time he chewed a hole in the bathroom wall. I got smart and bought Apple Bitter spray.

  3. Oh it sounds so much like my sister's very naughty dog that is so adorable and looks at everyone like an angel and then shreds tissue around the whole house or jumps on you so he can play, or barks to get your attention. In other words. He bad.