Insurance premium up? You can thank my clumsy dog

Sundays always include sleeping in late, breakfast in bed and a deep tissue massage — as long as we keep in mind this only applies to the new royal baby. Which isn’t to say Sunday mornings around here aren’t just as glamorous, depending on the kind of T-shirt and underwear I have on while standing at the coffee maker counting the drips. However, the one thing the Royals DON’T have are Sunday Flashbacks (Not counting Prince Harry). This week, we are again digging deep into the archives, back to 2003, when I still thought blogging was yet another intimate activity that raised more questions than answers. So pull up a chair, grab some coffee and let’s agree to move on from that image of me in my underwear…

This is the face of rising homeowner’s insurance.
Each year, we gather as a family to have our pets blessed on St. Francis Day. We do this because we want to give our pets every advantage, particularly if there’s a chance — through divine intervention — that our Chocolate Labrador’s IQ could be raised above that of a standard carrot. I know this is supposed to be a general blessing situation, but I think God would agree there was a serious oversight during Stanley’s creation process.

I know He is very busy.

I know He sees all.

But maybe He was also trying to catch the season finale of “Hell’s Kitchen.”

Whatever the reason, somewhere in the world there’s a dog with two brains. Undoubtedly, its owners are very happy. They don’t care that their dog’s enormous cranium causes people and other dogs to stare. That’s because their dog is smart. Their dog has an instinctive understanding of things like gravity. These owners give thanks to St. Francis each day because their dog, in spite of its bulbous cranium, would never high-center itself on a coffee table in front of company.

Stanley’s problem is that he tries to move like a gazelle when, in fact, he has the dexterity of a bull moose. He may THINK he can leap over the back of the couch from a seated position, but repeated attempts have proven otherwise. I’ve given up trying to explain this to people; I simply tell them he must be choking on something and trying to give himself the Heimlich maneuver. It’s less embarrassing than the truth, which, more often than not, prompts people to react as if their very life depended on not upsetting the lunatic dog before Animal Control arrives. However, Stanley does come in handy when trying to get rid of pushy sales people. All I have to do is open the door wide enough for them to glimpse a 60-pound dog repeatedly leaping chest-first onto the couch and then falling to the floor. On the rare occasion a sales person makes it through their entire spiel, I’ve yet to have one come inside even when invited.

I should mention that Stanley is more than a year old. The fact he is still doing things like this concerns me. So much so that I began looking for a treatment. After hours of research and a lengthy discussion with my vet, we reached a disturbing prognosis for Stanley:

There is no treatment.

At least, not for him.

But I did find out that Stanley is not alone. According to a study conducted by Tesco Pet Insurance in England, Chocolate Labs are officially the clumsiest breed of dog on the planet. Tesco’s study showed that Labs are twice as likely to hurt themselves while attempting something that researchers agreed, “Requires a crash helmet.” In addition, 55 percent of Chocolate Lab owners filed a claim in the last year for damages to their home under the category “Act of Dog.”

Unfortunately, this behavior is present in Labradors here in the U.S. as well. One example is a three-month-old Lab puppy in Oklahoma who recently blew the roof off his owner’s house. As it turns out, “Jake” was fine and the family had left for the day. Firefighters speculate that the dog had chewed a hole in the gas line when a nearby water heater clicked on, causing a blast powerful enough to level the house.

This incident really put things into perspective for me. Come next year, when we gather our pets for St. Francis Day, I’ll just pray for Stanley’s continued good health and happiness.

That’s assuming we still have a roof over our heads.

(Ned is a syndicated columnist with News Media Corporation. You can write to him at, or at Siuslaw News, P.O. Box 10, Florence, OR 97439.)

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Ned's Blog

I was a journalist, humor columnist, writer and editor at Siuslaw News for 23 years. The next chapter in my own writer’s journey is helping other writers prepare their manuscript for the road ahead. I'm married to the perfect woman, have four great kids, and a tenuous grip on my sanity...

43 thoughts on “Insurance premium up? You can thank my clumsy dog”

  1. Brilliant Ned!
    One reason we don’t have a dog!
    Instead we have a sad, lonely baby tortoise – don’t actually now if he’s sad or lonely but he must be as his mission in life is to escape. From anywhere. Having seen the speed at which he tries to evade our clutches I can understand why the Hare never stood a chance.
    The worst/best thing is that he will outlive us all.

  2. I love this ,lol We have a Great Pyrenee’s, our second. When Elvis went through his terrible twos there was not a stick of furniture that had not been over turned and we promptly gave up the water bed for a real mattress. He’s older now and has out grown most of that, but on any given day he could still muster a surprise or two….or three.
    Enjoyed , thanx for sharing !

  3. Stanley’s adorable factor compensates for the extreme lack of grace. Be glad you don’t also have a 19 lb cat, which I did at one time, that stomps across your delicate parts in the middle of the night, while you are sleeping. That would also cause your health insurance rates to rise.

    1. I have to admit, his adorableness keeps him on our good graces, although I have been rudely awakened by his foot finding it’s way into my Netherlands first thing in the morning. Wow… a 19-pound cat. I’m guessing his litter box was the long jump pit at the local high school?

  4. Dog is man’s best friend, if only because man was so desperate to find something stupider than him, something on which he could blame damage, messes, smells and significant gaps in food stores.

  5. I have two labs. one that looks just like the said above picture…and a yellow. I too have them prayed over on the said date. AND…this is why my dogs stay outside. In a pen. Where the stench is quite neighborly. jussayn.

  6. oh, that was hilarious!!!! thanks, I needed the laugh today. No deep tissue massages over here on Sunday’s either. LMAO
    Poor dog, my bullmastiff is too smart for his own good somedays but I think the entertainment value of your dog would make up for his lack of smarts.

  7. I feel your pain. My dog isn’t a chocolate lab, golden lab, or even any lab. My dog’s breed is known as Dog.

    She likes to bark at the TV. It was funny when she did this years ago when animals were on the TV. It was kinda cute when she did it while watching sports – she hates the Yankees, the Dallas Stars and apparently the entire sport of Football.

    Now, however, she has taken to barking at the static screen saver picture when the AppleTV is in standby mode.

    Thus, consider this proof offered that my dog doesn’t have Stanley’s brain.

    Also, I shall start praying now. For me. Our jackass, while cute (per my wife), is hopeless.

    1. I think it’s best, given our dogs’ opposite gender, to make a bilateral agreement to never let them mate. It’s just better for everyone, including the NFL.

  8. I think your dog is most likely deviously clever—knowing that perhaps he could get a deal with some sort of obnoxious reality TV series featuring ‘dogs pretending to be dumb’.

No one is watching, I swear...

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