October 21, 2014
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Spigot caper has to be a doggie first
This Side Up

This has got to be a first – a dog that ruptures plumbing causing the instant loss of water pressure and sending a geyser shooting from the side of the house, which threatens to erode a section of our front lawn.

Yes, this is Ollie’s latest feat, which, if we had only properly documented, would be a submission for the Guinness Book of World Records. The record is actually that one dog could be responsible for causing such havoc.

The plumbing incident is not merely another notch on his belt, but a superior achievement that surely must earn him recognition in some doggie chronicle. It could be the Spigot Award or something like that. But then who would ever believe a dog could be responsible for such a train of disaster.

It’s unbelievable that a dog would tear up the inside of a car to the point that the passenger seat is rendered useless, the side airbags are left dangling and the headliners, and the foam behind it, is chewed up in barely a half-hour. Ollie made his seat-eating debut on Easter morning, while we enjoyed breakfast with my son, Ted and his family.

Our guess is that a deer or some other critter walked by the car while parked outside Ted’s house. Ollie’s a coonhound adopted from a kill shelter in the South, so he goes berserk when he spots or catches the scent of game.

It was one of the more thorough acts of canine destruction, witnessed by Frank’s Auto Top in Providence, who eventually put it all back together. I got the Subaru back Friday. It had that new car smell. For the first time in weeks, a passenger could ride in the front seat; and the persistent dinging of the seatbelt alarm had ceased. The air bags were no longer dangling. In fact, they aren’t visible at all. Ollie hasn’t been for a ride yet, but I guarantee I won’t be leaving him in the car anywhere near woods.

As it is, even in urban Warwick, he finds plenty to howl over. While we’ve been told he’s a “spotted” coonhound, and he’s got spots everywhere, he’s also been given the name of a “tree climbing coonhound.” When he’s on to a scent, he’ll try scrambling up a tree trunk. Fortunately he’s a lousy climber; otherwise we’d likely find him in the neighbor’s yard all the time.

There’s another name that would fit – borrowing hound.

Ollie loves digging and dirt. Give him an expanse of a lawn and he’ll dig a hole for no apparent reason. But then he has reasons, too. Fences are open invitations. If they can’t be scaled, he goes to work excavating. We’ve countered his earth moving skills with rocks, cinder blocks and logs strategically lined up along low points of the chain-link fence. Leave a gap and Ollie finds it, as he did recently when he paid a visit to our neighbors Roger and Betty Keefe and their dog, Angel. As soon as Ollie spotted me, he headed for the hole, sliding under the sharp fence wiring to arrive with a delighted grin as if to say, “Pretty cool, don’t you think?”

I thought it was cool enough to fill the hole with a couple of rocks and reinforce that section of fence with a 14-foot plank. He’s risen to that challenge and is digging again, when we’re not watching.

One of his more ingenious excavations has been at the overturned dinghy near the seawall. The dinghy has always been a sanctuary for cats that can’t get across the yard fast enough, and, we suspect, a place for the nighttime wanderings of skunks and coons. Ollie checks it out every morning, circumnavigating the boat with his nose probing under the gunwales. That, apparently, wasn’t enough for the other morning; dirt was spread across the lawn and Ollie was under the boat.

But the spigot caper tops even that.

Fortunately, it happened when we were there to act.

Ollie’s morning routine consists of charging off the back porch to blitz any unsuspecting critters lingering on the wrong side of the fence or finding security under the overturned dinghy. He has yet to catch up with any, even a squirrel; a lack of success that probably explains why he was left in a shelter in North Carolina.

Once he’s raced around the perimeter of the yard, he’ll crisscross the open areas with his nose firmly to the ground.

On Tuesday, he was supercharged; a streak on a mission.

To water the roses at one end of the porch, Carol had looped the hose over the railing. It was raised a foot above the deck. Ollie hit it at full charge, yanking the water pipe out of the wall, snapping the brass spigot from the PVC pipe. Water shot out though the bushes and onto the lawn.

I rushed to the basement to shut off the water.

Of course, Ollie had to see what I was up to. But I wasn’t going to let him down there. There are some places that are off limits, even for Ollie.


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