Hugo Baker trotted into the kitchen last night happy as a clam, carrying a Christmas ornament in his mouth he’d nicked off the tree.
“You are never going to believe this,” he said to Tilly. “There are wooden toys hanging all over the place in there.”
Ever since the tree (thanks, Heffelfinger Tree Farm!) went up on Sunday, Hugo has been there inspecting every new development. He’s sipped on the water. He’s chewed up bows on the gift boxes. He’s nosed the branches. And now, apparently, he had sampled an ornament, a beleaguered-looking lamb that William managed to rescue at the last minute.
It’s the latest chapter in a book I call “Most Badly Behaved Dog in the World,” a story that started last January when we picked up our adorable new puppy.
Now, I admit there is a chance I’m co-author when it comes to this tale. Fresh off the loss of our beloved Fitz, who passed away last November, I wasn’t quite in the right frame of mind for puppy training come January. Instead, I think both William and I were just happy (and relieved) to have joy in the house again and a companion for our dog Tilly.
So, from the beginning, Hugo was treated as a bit of a baby Jesus instead of a puppy whose behavior needed to be consistently molded.
Still, I tried. We spent hours circling the yard to encourage pottying outside. We use a spray bottle filled with water to discourage jumping and crazy hellos. He even lasted the longest of all our dogs when it came to crate training (we ditched that plan after about three weeks because I have absolutely no willpower).
Whatever we did, Hugo had other plans. First, he grew and grew and grew some more. Now, though a Boston terrier, he’s tall enough to reach the counter, so, on two legs, he pulls off everything he can. Dish towels. Cuts of meat. Whole jars of peanut butter. And, his favorite, oven mitts.
Until he ruined my entire collection (except for the rubber ones, which I don’t even like), his favorite thing to do was chew a hole between the thumb and finger portion of the mitt, rendering it almost impressively unusable.
“Deeee-licious,” he’d say after we’d discovered the theft. “Tastes like a hundred dinners in one.”
After he decimated that “food” source, he turned to toilet paper and Kleenex. Luckily, he hasn’t figured out how to pull the paper from the roller, but he’s become a scrappy scavenger. He can be in the farthest reaches of the house and if someone blows their nose, he’s suddenly there waiting for that ball of Kleenex to hit the trash can. We’ve kept those cans empty for about six months now, but he still checks their status on a regular cycle.
At about nine months of age, Hugo discovered he loves to fetch. Since neither Tilly nor Fitz were ever interested in retrieving, this was a fun development in the house. Except Hugo is now constantly on the hunt for tennis balls, which tend to roll under things. He’ll try desperately to reach the ball, except, of course, he’s so damn big, he can’t. So then he’ll stand in front of the furniture “hiding” the ball and whimper pitifully until one of us retrieves it for him (argh, which we do).
He also loves to play fetch, umm, all the time. So when we have company to dinner, it’s not unusual for a Penn Championship to regularly be sailing through the air come dessert.
The crazy thing is his behavior keeps changing — and worsening. Just a month ago, Hugo decided that the glasses of water we keep on our nightstands are actually set out for him. I will often walk into the bedroom now and he’ll have two paws on a stand with his tongue mid-lap.
“What? I like my water served to me in a glass, mother. Shoot me for having standards.”
Same too when it comes to where he likes to pee. It’s not always, unfortunately, outside. However, it’s not on the floor either. Instead, it’s in poor Tilly’s food bowl.
“How rude!” she’ll say, skirting around it.
“I own you, Til,” he’ll respond before he rips her girly bandana off her neck.
Luckily, so far, Hugo isn’t violent (except for with his stuffed toys) and he is the biggest cuddle bug once he calms the eff down.
But if you do walk by our house and see a giant Boston terrier in the yard, I recommend giving him a wide berth. He’ll be barking at you, of course, so that should act as a warning (side note: Tilly never barks, and Fitz never did either). He’ll also likely nip you if you get too close just to see what you taste like, so I’ll apologize in advance for that.
Still, he’s brought so much joy and entertainment to our lives. And if I can just keep him away from that Christmas tree …