My Dog, the Devourer of Literature

Daisy fortunately doesn't have a shoe-destroying fetish. Books, on the other hand ...
By: Kelly Quay
Daisy the puppy in a closet

There are two important things to know about me. The first is that I am a dog lover. I have always had an affection for and a need to surround myself with dogs. The second is that I am a book lover. Give me a good book, and I’m likely to lose interest in everything else for at least the next few hours, if not days. I devour books. Unfortunately, so does my dog.

From the day we brought Daisy home, she had been a perfect angel. Unlike most new puppies, she loved shoes, not for their chewiness, but for the fact that they perfectly cradled her face during naps. Furniture was safe—she would rather curl up in the couch cushions than destroy them. I had been careful to keep anything valuable stowed out of her reach, but on the few occasions that I left open the door to my beloved closet, she would simply burrow into the scarves and boots strewn on the floor and stare at me as if to say, “See? You can trust me.”

Daisy’s apparent disinterest in destroying any of our things left us complacent. We started to give her more freedom. When we put her in her crate when we left for work, she cried so much that we finally decided to let her roam free during the day. You can probably see where this is going … We did not.

The first few weeks were uneventful. We would arrive home at the end of the day to find a slightly-hyper dog and an undisturbed home. Daisy clearly didn’t love being left alone but, like all naive pet parents, we imagined her waiting patiently, napping or perhaps chewing on a toy until it was time to greet us at the door upon our return.

The first book to make its untimely end was, ironically, “A Dog’s Purpose” by W. Bruce Cameron. We had a good laugh, even as we puzzled over why we had come home to an apartment littered with torn pages. We cleared up the mess and went on leaving Daisy loose in the apartment.

Daisy the dog

A few weeks passed without incident. We wrote the occurrence off as an anomaly. Maybe she was trying to tell us that she disagreed with the thesis of “A Dog’s Purpose,” that a dog can find a meaningful existence through the lives of humans. That’s okay, we thought. She’s entitled to her own opinion.

The next time we came home to a pile of confetti that had once been a book, it became less funny and more of an annoyance. This time, her selected volume was “Wild” by Cheryl Strayed, which I hadn’t even read yet (and bemoaned as I retrieved the dustpan).

When we came home to find “Snowflower and the Secret Fan” by Lisa See shredded to bits, I tried to rationalize what was happening.

“Clearly she’s making a statement about standards of beauty and gender equality,” I said to my husband, Patrick. He looked back at me, unconvinced and, I suspect, questioning his decision to enter into a legally-binding marriage with an insane person.

There was no getting around it. Daisy had clearly decided that carefully selecting a book from the shelf and destroying it was her new favorite game.

So, back in the crate she went.

We retrieved it from storage and Daisy whined pitifully from behind the couch while Patrick painstakingly reassembled it. We cringed every time we left our apartment and her barking echoed through the door and into the hallway. She hated it, but we weren’t sure what else we could do. It was dog vs. books, and I had never been so torn.

“Clearly she’s making a statement about standards of beauty and gender equality,” I said to my husband. He looked back at me, unconvinced.

A few months later, I was packing my suitcase for a weekend trip to Orlando to visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. We were leaving the next day, so I ran out to grab some travel toiletries from the pharmacy down the street. Daisy always gets a bit agitated when she sees us packing, but she had been back to her old, perfect self. I left her sleeping in her favorite spot by the window.

I came home 20 minutes later to find the apartment covered in the soggy remains of “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.” To this day, I remain convinced that she knew exactly what she was doing.

It’s been a while since Daisy has destroyed anything in our home. She’s matured into a wonderful dog who is affectionate and eager to please. We no longer harbor any qualms about allowing her the run of the apartment when we’re gone. Even so, I keep my e-reader in a drawer out of her reach. Just in case.