I raise service dog puppies, and I recently welcomed my fourth one — a sweet yellow lab-golden mix named Olivia. After raising three dogs I thought I’d seen it all. The compulsive devouring of things not meant for consumption, like dryer sheets and d-cell batteries. The fear of ridiculous things, like lawn chairs and balloons. The problems that ensue when your puppy is just too damn friendly.
This is cute when they’re tiny but alarming when they weigh seventy pounds and are built like a furry tank. And of course, there’s the total lack of protective instinct. When a drunk guy tried to break into my house two summers ago, my dog of the moment ran straight for the door, tail wagging, ready to greet his new friend.
So yeah, I thought I was ready for anything that little Olivia could throw at me. Anything except the snores.
At first, I thought it was just a puppy thing. Puppies do a lot of weird things. They sleep on their backs with all their little paws up in the air. They forget that they have back legs, or that those back legs are attached to their bodies. They eat too fast and throw up everywhere.
But Olivia, while engaging in all those behaviors, snores profusely. And when I say ‘snores’, I mean ‘sounds like a chainsaw with asthma’. It’s that bad. It would be okay, maybe, if she only did this when I was at home. But she comes to class and to work with me, and because she usually falls asleep, she snores.
I distinctly remember sitting in the back row of my mythology and literature class, trying to keep a low profile, while heads all through the classroom whipped from side to side, trying to figure out where the noise was coming from. Once, in a psych class, she curled up behind my backpack, mostly hidden from view. After a few moments, the snoring commenced. My professor looked around the classroom quizzically, multiple times, before spotting a small paw extending past the bounds of Olivia’s hiding spot.
“I forgot there was a dog in here,” he said, laughing. “I thought Dr. Czopp was taking a nap in his office.”
The public snoring is bad. There’s no denying that because it’s just so loud. It’s impossible to ignore, and improbable to imagine that it’s coming out of a relatively small animal.
Now imagine that you’re alone in your apartment, somewhere around midnight. The dog is in the apartment, but you can’t see her from your specific vantage point. And then it starts. A low, rumbling sound like an approaching train or the sound of some primeval monster growling low in its throat. The hairs on the back of your neck stand up. You look around, but the dog is nowhere in sight. What is making that sound?
You call her name, and there’s a volcanic snort before she comes trotting around the corner, as innocent as can be. It sounds cute, doesn’t it? Wait until you’re sharing your house with a miniature Godzilla in a dog suit before you decide.