Rita Howell’s Column

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Peyton, not Grinch, Pittman Road suspect

If none of my relatives get presents from me this Christmas, I am blaming it on the dog.

Loveable Peyton, half fiest, half ??, makes his home with us as the result of an emotion-based decision I made last spring. He was the last of a litter of seven pups delivered by Lulu shortly after her arrival at our door. A nice lady was going to take him, but something came up and she didn’t get him, and, well, he was so cute and after all, we were down to three dogs at the time. So Peyton never left.

And Rupert was left scratching his head.

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“Did we really need another dog?”

I’d  forgotten how much trouble puppies are. Even those who live outside.

We have two rocking chairs on our front porch. They’ve been here longer than I have. They have survived the tenures of any number of dogs through the past 15 years. They have not survived Peyton.

I don’t know why Peyton has taken it upon himself to destroy these fine wooden rocking chairs. He has chewed and defaced the rockers. He has eaten off the woven seats, revealing the bare wood beneath. For some reason he has claimed the more ragged chair as his own and has taken to lying in it and even rocking in it at night. Ever so often he rocks it against the wall behind him and scares himself.

He has torn up three doggie beds and at least a dozen heavy-duty doggie toys. A.R. Robinson at Tractor Supply can’t keep those squeaky balls on his shelves because I keep buying them to offer to Peyton so he’ll quit chewing on the rocking chairs.

To add to our dog dilemma, the hottub has gone out. It is not hot. Not even luke warm. No matter how frustrating the day, we count on being able to enjoy a few minutes in the spa at night. So Rupert ordered a part for it, hoping to fix it himself and restore serenity to our lives. He paid extra to have it shipped faster.

We got home last night and Rupert remarked that the part should be here. He looked on the front porch to see if it had been delivered and left outside. There was no sign of it. This morning I looked in the front yard and saw what looked like … pieces of a cardboard box.  

Further investigation led to more shredded paper in the side yard. I followed the scraps until I found the spa heating element lying in the frosty grass. It’s made out of metal and pretty solid. I could find no tooth marks. I hope it still works.

Now I am wondering what else Peyton might have torn up.

I am expecting the man in the brown truck to bring Miss Annie-Glenn’s present any day now. (Miss A-G, if you are reading this, stop now.)  

My mother-in-law wants a new spatula. Not a pancake-turner, but an old-timey, long, thin metal rectangle which serves any number of purposes, like leveling flour or poking along the inside of a bundt pan to loosen the cake. The handle had come off the one she has used for the past 50 years, and she needs a new one. But they are hard to find.

I managed to locate one, not exactly like her old one, but perhaps close enough. I found it on the internet and ordered it. It has not arrived. At least I don’t think it has arrived.

Tonight I am considering going outside with a flashlight to see if it has suffered the same fate as the hottub part. It would not surprise me to find it lying underneath the weeping privet, amid chewed-up cardboard and those white styrofoam peanuts, its shiney wooden handle scarred by Peyton’s teeth.

  Meanwhile Rupert is installing the hottub part as I write this. If it doesn’t work, both Peyton and I will be in the doghouse.