Variety Is the Spice of Life (and Just Might Save Your Life).

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Much is made in the news media about the importance of moderation and variety as key components of a healthy lifestyle. Supposedly, this is particularly true with respect to one’s diet. We all know by rote by now all the reasons for living this way.

But I think I have stumbled on another, less traditional rationale for this age-old admonition. And stumbled on it in a non-traditional way, no less.

You see, our Lab-Shepherd mix (this is our latest guess) “puppy” has evidently taken this moderation and variety advice to heart. Following it quite literally. Adopting a very precise approach.

Preparing to leave Wailea home alone for a couple hours has forced us to develop an entirely different perspective on what does, and what does not, constitute “food.” I survey our bedroom before leaving, scanning the tops of bedside tables, the reachable areas under our bed, the backyard with its endless jetsam and floatsam of dog toys and kids’ toys. Once convinced that Wailea’s area is “food-free” after making a few minor modifications here and there, I shut the door and leave the house with confidence.

When I return, I see my arm and hand reaching unsteadily for the bedroom door knob. It’s like an out-of-body experience. My pulse quickens. I catch myself mumbling or maybe chanting or half-praying that nothing irreplaceable has been ripped to shreads. Some combination of “Give my peanuts to Uncle Jake” and “Hava Nagila.” (This is one of those rare occasions when my Atheism causes me problems.) I hold my breath, pinch my eyes shut, turn the knob, push open the door. And then, typically with a dropped jaw and wide eyes, I survey the damage. Calculate the associated expense — economic and psychological. Sometimes it’s both.

Allow me to elaborate. She has devoured an English-to-Chinese dictionary. “Obliterated” may be more apt. It looked like a debris field in the aftermath of a satellite crashed to Earth. (I would like to be able to describe this scene in Mandarin, but alas, I can’t, since the Mandarin dictionary did not survive the crash).

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More recently, Wailea has eaten: (a) a deck of playing cards, (b) a walkathon pledge form, (c) a blue felt tip marker, (d) a photo of Hilary when Hilary was 10 years-old, (e) a bushel of apples and pears set out as a lovely dining table centerpiece, (f) my iPhone earbuds, (g) one fairly expensive (I think) shoe belonging to my wife, (h) a One Dollar bill, (i) a checkbook, and (j) a bright orange, papier machet work of school art the size of a cantaloupe that might have been a piñata but looked like a gargoyle head.

If I’m being totally honest, this last meal I was sort of happy about. The luminescent gargoyle head had been making me uncomfortable for the past several weeks. It just showed up one day on a table in our bedroom, out of nowhere. Strange tribal markings spiraled around its bald head. Protruding eyeballs. A porcine sneer. Huge fangs. (OK, I’m not positive about the fangs, but that’s how I remember it).

I don’t know which of my sons made it. Or if either of them made it. It scared me, I think it gave me bad juju, and I am frankly glad that it is gone. And I know it is truly gone because I saw pieces of it that Wailea had later, ehm, “recycled.”

So long, Orange Devil Head! See yah! That’s what you get–all chewed up, torn to pieces, and passed through my Lab-Shepherd’s innards! Go tell all your bad juju friends: The Beadling Homestead is closed for business to all manner of malevolent, otherworldly forces — demons, devils, gargoyles, poltergeists, the whole lot of you. Don’t come ’round here no more, ya hear?!!

I don’t know what terrible misfortune Wailea has spared us by eating our money, checks and Chinese dictionaries. But surely, there again, she is keeping us safe.

So like I said, maybe there is something to what the news media says about moderation and variety. And perhaps variety is the spice of life. At least when it comes to the various, seemingly-random items Wailea works into her otherwise pedestrian dog food diet.

This is the only logical explanation for what Wailea has done. Otherwise, I’d just be another pissed off dog owner, cursing and helpless upon discovering another semi-important household item destroyed by a low-IQ pound-bought rescue mutt. And that’s just not me.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to walk back home to discover how our dog has protected our family’s well-being today with her varied diet. For example, there are a couple of tiny, ET-meets-Ninja Turtles-meets-tropical drink decorations figurines striking threatening poses from Everett’s bed post. I am tired of being threatened. I want them gone. I want them made an example of.

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Thanks for reading.

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