Captain W. Russ Webster, USCG (Ret.), CULA 18
Bentley arrived at Portland airport from a Kansas City breeder in utter shambles. He had adapted and endured multiple flights and a baggage transfer, but he and his crate were a cesspool of urine and feces. After the car ride home and a quick cleanup, a treat and a fresh bowl of water, Bentley perked up while I introduced him to his new home.
I have to admit, it had been 40 years since I owned a dog, and Bentley, a Springer Spaniel-Poodle mix, presented some unique challenges. Within a few weeks, he had grown from this little fur child I could fit in one hand, to double his size, and with the beginning jumping ability that would rival Michael Jordan. That dog on the State Farm commercials who starts the kitchen fire by turning on the burner in his quest for pizza was no match for Bentley. The only thing that kept Bentley safely within the confines of my kitchen was not knowing he could easily vault the gate.
We all knew what an “escaped Bentley” could do. Once, the gate had been mistakenly left ajar and he quickly used his paw to create enough room to escape and wreak havoc on the rest of the house. He chewed socks, tore through loose paper and jumped on beds.
Those who own spaniels and poodles understand the energy they commit to their running, jumping and play. Tasmanian Devils they be! An escaped Bentley was “full-speed,” back and forth and no voice command or treat would stand in his way of exploring new nooks and crannies. The only stopping Bentley was flushing him out in to the hallway after closing all the adjacent doors. Seal Team 6 tactics — these are smart critters.
Soon after Bentley’s arrival, I started Chef Rascati’s CULA 100 Food safety course and my “awakening” about the hazards Bentley presented to me and my guests quickly took shape. That occasional accident in the kitchen soon took on new meaning and invoked a full-blown HAZMAT response! Oh, sh.., now I have to clean, rinse, sanitize and air dry the floor, again.
More importantly, I started studying information related to zoonotic diseases that were transmittable between dogs and humans. When I started reading things like, “Zoonotic diseases are responsible for fifty eight percent of all pathogens in humans,” my spider senses began to tingle. Zoonotic diseases are diseases that can be transmitted among animals. They commonly are transmitted through viruses and in some cases, bites. Fortunately, most are handled easily by the body’s immune system without major effect. Others can be quite serious.
The second area of concern are those diseases transmitted from dog to human caused by bacteria. Most often, these come from the critters that animals may bring in to the home from the outside like ticks, mites, fleas and louses.
So, what’s a Bentley owner to do? A very close friend encouraged me to rein in my free-range hound and “crate the little guy.” Isn’t that inhumane? No, crate training wasn’t available when I owned my last dog and it turns out dogs like the security of their new domicile and won’t mess their surroundings unless left way too long. The other pathway to a safe kitchen has been to check the fur child regularly for incoming bugs and to wash him with pet friendly products on a regular basis.
While I still worry about the occasional inevitable accident, my awareness about the consequences and remedies is now almost as high as Bentley’s jumping abilities.