When Max unrolled and ate the toilet paper, I laughed. When he destroyed toy after toy after toy, I smiled, cleaned up the mess and bought new toys. When he chewed up two of my Twilight figurines, I sighed and but again laughed at the sight of headless Bella. When he chewed into my yarn bag and ate part of my shawl, I kept my calm, swept up the mess and moved all knitting and crochet stuff out of his reach. But what we came home to tonight was the worst.
It looked like a battlefield coming in the door. He’d found a bag of dried apricots (kept at the back of the counter); all that was left was bits of the bag. He’d gotten into my daughter’s school bag and tossed her shirt across the room, chewed up part of her gym shorts, and eaten her Pop-tarts. That wasn’t the worst. No, the worst was the … I don’t even want to say it … the books.
I’m a book collector. My mom owned a used-book store when I was growing up and I worked with her for ten years, learning everything about collectible books. I’m also a reader, a fast and voracious reader. Those make for a substantial and really cool book collection. We have four 6′ tall bookcases in our dining room. They’re all hardbacks, and most are first editions with dust jackets. Some are valuable only to me, but many have monetary value too.
Now some of you might be hyperventilating right now (as I was as I came home) but rest assured, it wasn’t nearly as bad as it could have been. He only managed to pull out two books, and one is still salvageable.
See those scratches across the front? Yeah, those weren’t there before. Now granted, this is not my favorite Dean Koontz book. I am a huge fan of Koontz, especially his early books, and I have a pretty thorough collection. The fact that he chose this one and not the signed first of Whispers or Strangers…well, that’s something to be grateful for. I guess. Whatever. But still. This is a pretty unusual title and a first edition. Not cool, Max.
So what was the other one? I couldn’t tell at first: the dust jacket had been torn from its protective plastic cover and both were in shreds. As I got closer, I saw the initials L E on the front of the book. I also love Louise Erdrich. I first read her in college and was obsessed with her books for a long time. One of my most treasured books is a near fine first edition of Love Medicine, her most famous book, and I was sure that was what Max had chewed up.
Thank goodness, it wasn’t. It was The Blue Jay’s Dance, her memoir of early motherhood. Again, not my favorite of hers, but still, I really enjoyed this book. Not anymore.
But it wasn’t really even which books got damaged that affected me. It was that they were Books. Books are part of me. They’ve always been a huge part of my life. I treat them with respect and reverence and love. They are vessels of joy and heartache and wonder and imagination. To see one destroyed like this…it hurts more than it should.
So I’m frustrated now. We were gone maybe an hour, and he had a number of toys to entertain him. He’d been fed. He’d already gotten two walks and two playtimes in the backyard. I don’t know what else to do with this dog except to shut him up in the kitchen or crate him when we’re gone. I didn’t want to have to resort to that but I don’t know what else to do. I love him, but I also love my belongings. I want us to be able to coexist peacefully. So how do I make that happen?