It’s a dog-eat-remote-control world

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In the high-pressure world of big-time journalism, your classic dog-bites-man story doesn’t grab many headlines.

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Opinion

In the high-pressure world of big-time journalism, your classic dog-bites-man story doesn’t grab many headlines.

On the other hand, there appears to be an endless appetite for stories about badly behaved dogs eating valuable items, forcing their owners to recover them via methods that put their personal hygiene at serious risk.

I have reported on dozens of stories detailing this disturbing canine trend.

For instance, a few years back I shared an alarming story about a Wisconsin woman named Lois Matykowski and her dog, Tucker. Matykowski had been sitting outside eating Popsicles with her granddaughter when she realized the child’s frozen treat had mysteriously vanished.

Which is when they noticed Tucker, a 10-year-old mutt the family has dubbed the “food burglar,” was sitting there smacking his lips and it became clear the dog had eaten the Popsicle, stick and all.

This story gained steam two days later when Tucker decided to throw up on the carpet. When she went to clean up the mess, Matykowski found a sparkly surprise — the diamond wedding ring she’d lost five years before and had given up hope of ever finding.

“I look in the paper towel and here is my wedding ring,” she told reporters. “I kid you not. My wedding ring was in Tucker’s puke.”

A short time later I stumbled on an Associated Press story about Pepper, a Lab-shepherd cross in Wisconsin who made headlines around the world after he got into his owner’s purse and gobbled $750. The good news is Pepper’s owner — and thankfully she wore rubber gloves to do this — was able to recover and wash off $647 their pet kindly “deposited” in the backyard, if you catch my subtle drift.

But the alarm bells really began ringing last week when my dear friend Pam relayed a true-life story about a misadventure involving her beloved dog Angus, a two-year-old Airedale terrier roughly the size of a small horse.

Angus is an energetic, friendly mutt with a stomach of steel and a well-earned reputation for eating inedible items, including rocks in the backyard and socks left lying around the house.

So the other day, as Pam was working in the kitchen, she heard a mysterious noise emanating from under the dining room table, where Angus had been relaxing. “I was by the freezer doing a few things and I heard a couple of crunches and I thought, ‘That is either the leg of the dining room table or Angus has got something,’” Pam told me.

“I climbed over the gate keeping him out of the kitchen and I noticed, ‘Oh my goodness, there’s bits of something all over, little plastic bits, little metal bits.”

After examining the debris, my friend made a shocking discovery — her dog had just chowed down on the TV remote control.

“He ate the buttons, the whole black case; luckily he didn’t get into the batteries,” she said.

I realize this is the sort of horrific story that divides sensitive readers along gender lines as follows:

Typical female reader: “Big deal! I can read a magazine or go for a walk.”

Typical male reader: “He ate the TV remote?! No! No!”

So Pam spent roughly three days without the ability to change the channel on her big-screen TV, even though she tried pressing on Angus’s belly button and turning his tail counter-clockwise.

“I couldn’t watch 90 Day Fiancé and the associated shows,” she said with a note of sadness. “It was horrible. Angus gets upset because he does enjoy a good TV show. He likes his Jets games. He does not like shows with goats.”

Anyway, as most scholars and dog owners know, all things must pass, and a few days later Angus — who was none the worse for wear — deposited the remains of the remote control in the backyard. Sporting rubber gloves, Pam retrieved the icky parts, but, like Humpty Dumpty, there was no way to put the pieces back together again.

Off she went to the local Shaw retail outlet to obtain a brand new remote. The friendly clerk asked Pam whether she had brought her old remote with her. “I told the guy what happened and showed him a picture of Angus. I said, ‘This is who did it.’ They thought it was absolutely hilarious. He said it has been known to happen. They thought it was quite comical.”

You will be glad to hear the store gave Pam a new remote control free of charge and sent her on her way. Back home, she was careful to put the new remote on a desk where she was confident Angus would not be able to lay his teeth on it.

“Within 24 hours I saw Angus running around the house with the new remote control,” my friend confided, heaving a sigh. “I told him if he ate that one, he’d have to replace it himself.”

Which just goes to show you can’t teach old dogs new tricks — but if you can get them to change the channel on your TV you probably deserve a Nobel Prize.

dougspeirs65@gmail.com

Doug Speirs

Doug Speirs
Columnist

Doug has held almost every job at the newspaper — reporter, city editor, night editor, tour guide, hand model — and his colleagues are confident he’ll eventually find something he is good at.

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