Progress, deconstructed

In July, we got a third dog, a Jack Russel Terrier named Myka.

A small tan and white jack russel puppy sitting on the carpet looking at the camera.
Here she is at three months.

We rapidly discovered that Myka’s philosophy on life is (not unexpectedly), “I’m gonna bite it.”

Now, it’s important to note that we have two other Jack Russells who we also got as puppies, so we’ve gone through destruction phases before.

For example, this is what Chance and Kaylee did to my couch at roughly the same age:

A plaid couch circa 2008 with a hole at the bottom where the stuffing all over the floor was pulled from
They were big on “arts and crafts”, shredding things as group activities.

And here are the two destruction experts, nine years ago, as puppies:

Kaylee, tan and white, laying with her head on Chance, brown and white, who is wearing a blue sweater with white bones on it. They look suitably adorable.
If you haven’t guessed by now, yes, I feel like showing off my dogs today.

So yeah. We thought we’d already learned how to puppy-proof a house.

But in ten years, puppy-proofing has become more challenging, and it’s because of technology.

Here’s a list of the things Myka has destroyed in six months that didn’t exist when Chance and Kaylee were puppies:

  • Jabra bluetooth headphones and a bluetooth headphone charging case. (Left on a table she shouldn’t have been able to reach.)
  • Apple AirPods and their case. (Fell out of a pocket.)
  • The charging cable for a wifi video camera (Slipped below the table it was on, so she jumped up and gnawed on it. Ironically, the camera was to monitor Myka when she was locked in the kitchen.)
  • The power cable for an LED grow lamp. (Also slipped below the same table. Fortunately, it was unplugged at the time. And before you get ideas, it was for a Venus Flytrap she later wrecked by climbing onto the kitchen counter.)
  • An LED camping lantern. (I set the camping lantern down in the yard to open a bottle of soda. She ran off with the lantern. I got up to retrieve the lantern. She ran off with my unopened soda bottle. Rookie mistake.)
  • Solar-powered path lights. (She’s wrecked a couple of them, which is why we now have motion-detecting solar powered lights on the fence instead. Upgrade!)
  • Playstation 4 controller. (There is no level of the TV stand she can’t reach, because a tv stand for a 60″ flatscreen doesn’t have a top shelf that goes over the the way the CRT tv stands did in 2008.)
  • Silicone caps for Jabra headphones.
  • Silicone caps for Apple earbuds.
  • Silicone off of literally anything she can find. She likes chewy things.
  • iPhone lightning charging cables (multiple)
  • Nintendo Switch charging cable
  • Many many smoked ostrich bones.

Now, admittedly, some of the things on this list had 2008 analogues… the Gameboy, the original iPhone cable, non-LED grow lamps, they all existed. But they were also sturdier, thicker, and harder to destroy, because we weren’t in the “micro-size everything” stage of technology we are today. While Chance and Kaylee could have chewed up a set of headphones, the chances that they’d swallow a whole one (which Myka almost did today) were pretty damn small.

Some of the things, like the Playstation controller, wouldn’t have gotten destroyed in 2008 because a TV stand in 2008 looked more like a giant wooden cabinet than a base for a large glowing slab of wall. The playstation controllers back then were kept on a shelf well above where the puppies could jump.

And yes, ostriches and smoked ostrich bones did exist in 2008, but “amazon will deliver ostrich knuckles in 12 hours” did not.

Puppy-proofing a house, inside or out, has become amazingly harder as our technology shrinks (or in the case of the TV, grows) and becomes more pervasive. We have twice as many tv-oriented devices as we did a decade ago, and that was when we owned more video game systems than most of our friends combined. We have more headphones than I-was-in-college-when-the-CD-player-became-a-thing ever dreamed of. I thank the universe that I don’t have a toddler who would swallow everything in sight instead.

Fortunately, this post does come with some good news: not everything changes.

I just pulled Myka out from under the couch, where she was tearing the bottom lining off by the mouthful.

Six-month-old jack russell curled up on the couch on top of a pile of blankets, sleeping.
The destruction machine, finally recharging her batteries

Author: Anne Gibson

Anne Gibson is Principal UX Designer and general troublemaker for a big/small technical company outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She's an editor and writer at The Interconnected. She is also published at A List Apart and The Pastry Box, and publishes short fiction when she's not persuading the terriers to stop wrecking things.