Harry chews a shoe

Harry is a naturally gifted chewer. Everybody has their talent in life, and that's Harry's. He can chew.

Boy, can he chew.

When Harry first came to live with us, we thought his constant need to chew was just a puppy thing. We thought it was because his big-dog teeth were coming up from under his puppy teeth and he was trying to help the process along. We figured that he'd grow out of it.

Well, it turns out it wasn't a phase. It turns out it was his true calling in life.

Harry, being a Corgi (and a fine one at that), has pretty big teeth for a relatively small dog. He's got teeth of which a timber wolf could be truly proud. In a Corgi, they're called "cattle nippers" because that's what they traditionally used them for while they were out herding.

With nothing to herd, except occasionally yours truly, Harry found other uses for his teeth. He chewed up everything in sight.

He chewed the table, he chewed the chair. He chewed a hole in the end of the couch big enough to stick his head in (and believe me I was tempted). He chewed the trim off the wall. He shredded any book, magazine or newspaper he managed to get a hold of. In the yard, he chewed on fallen branches, pine cones and even rocks.

He pulled the television cable loose and chewed through it, blacking out the TV. It didn't matter, though, because he had already shredded the TV Guide, so we didn't know what we were missing.

In a chewing frenzy, he tore the plastic bags off all our McDonald's collector's edition Beanie Babies, which at the time were thought to be quite valuable. I yelled at him for that and I still feel bad about it.

Rather than let the tensions escalate, we set to work to come up with a viable anti-chewing strategy. Some supposedly knowledgable people recommended locking him in his crate when we weren't home, but that seemed like pretty cruel thing to do to a dog as bright as Harry. We opted instead for a three-pronged approach.

Firstly, we reduced the opportunity for destruction by moving anything remotely tempting out of little Harry's reach. That wasn't hard, seeing as he's not too tall. Then we liberally coated all the furniture and chewable bits of the house with a bitter apple spray designed to make them less palateable.

Not to deny Harry in his forté, we provided him with an abundant supply of fine chewables. We made it clear that these things were his to chew to his heart's content, but that he better darned well leave the furniture alone.

Gradually, the destruction of our property stopped. Harry, as always, has the run of the house. He has a huge collection of dog bones, all of the sturdiest construction.

Far from having outgrown chewing, Harry has perfected it to an art form. Toys designed for much larger dogs fall to pieces in his jaws. The much vaunted "Retriever Roll" survived less than a minute before I was picking the pieces off the carpet. He had a lot of fun while it lasted, though.