Dishwasher lessons

This Side Up


The dishwasher taught Ollie a lesson.

Now, I’m beginning to think the dishwasher, or some similar contraption, may break him of his persistent quest to get beyond the boundaries of our fence.

The dishwasher episode happened the other night after dinner. We would have freaked out if Binky had not done exactly the same thing six or seven years ago.

Like Binky, Ollie has developed the uncanny ability to wake up, as if some invisible bell has rung, at the instant we have finished dinner and put our forks down. Maybe he has learned the word, “dessert,” but he knows there’s going to be a change in courses and there’s a good chance he’ll get to lick the plates when they’re returned to the kitchen.

For a while we made the mistake of simply taking the plates off the table and putting them on the floor. It’s not that Ollie is a sloppy eater. Fact is, he’s quite dainty compared to Binky, who wolfed things down and pushed plates across the floor. Ollie simply stands on a plate and efficiently cleans them off.

The issue with Ollie, as I mentioned in an earlier column, is the drool. Ollie would stare at us, unflinching even if told to back off, with icicle-like drools extending from both sides of his mouth. He no longer gets plates at the table and knows he has to lie down while we’re eating. He even appears to go to sleep and the drooling has ceased. What a relief.

But the dishwasher is another step in the food process, although by the time the plates get into it, they seem to be spotless.

I’ve seen Ollie drool when Carol opens the dishwasher. You would think it is stuffed with food.

He doesn’t wait for an invitation; although I don’t know what we would use as a command other than “go to it.”

The dishwasher is serious business; at least it was until the other night.

He took his job seriously, checking over the lined-up plates for any scintilla of food that could have escaped his initial cleaning. The cutlery also gets a good going over, which has us careful to exclude sharp knives from the machine.

Ollie was giving the washer his pre-cleaning cycle when all of a sudden there was clatter of crashing plates and silverware spilling on the tile floor. Carol, who had been feeding the washer, let out a burst of laughter as the hurtling brown and white spotted hound, a panic-stricken blur, shot through the dining room, into the living room and then upstairs. We didn’t hear as much as a whimper, but from the Binky experience we expected he was in shock.

Ollie’s collar got caught in the washer and, as he backed up, the dish rack followed. That, I imagine, would be enough to scare any dog. However, the rack didn’t stop until it fell to the floor with a crash.

Now Ollie warily eyes the washer and when it’s open, he gives it a wide berth.

If such fear could be instilled in him when it comes to fences.

We went the route of the invisible fence along the drive and the sea wall. He’s respectful of both locations, with the exception of one indiscretion that resulted in a three-hour chase through the neighborhood. The rest of the fence, a combination of chain link and stockade, he patrols with sentry-like precision. With his nose an inch off the ground, we suspect he’s scouting for the scent of intruding critters.

The problem is, when he’s picked up a scent, he desperately wants to pursue it. This has resulted in some fairly extensive excavations. On one occasion, I found him immobilized, his head pinned to the ground, as the prongs of the chain-link fence become enmeshed in his chain collar. The experience didn’t dissuade him from returning to precisely the same spot the following day.

I’ve pondered the options – extensions to the bottoms of the fences, more invisible fences, alarms that would sound.

Maybe the answer is in the dishwasher, not in the machine literally, but in the experience.

Might there be some device that would snap on to his collar as soon as he wedged his head under a fence to create that same level of terror as a clattering rack of dishes? I’m open to suggestions.


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