Home insurance premium up? Thank my clumsy dog

Apparently, today is National Pet Day. No one told me this. Not even our dog, who is always the first to point out important holidays such as “Arbor Day,” “Bring Your Dog To Work Day,” “National Hydrant Awareness Day” and “Bathe Your Cat Day” (which I think he made up.) Nonetheless, we love our chocolate Labrador, Stanley, and his two adopted siblings, CJ and Hazel. To celebrate, I’d like to offer this post from the past in tribute to Stanley and all the pets who make our lives so much richer, not counting what we spend on home repair…

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 Hickson is a syndicated columnist with News Media Corporation. His first book, Humor at the Speed of Life, is available from Port Hole Publications, Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble.

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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...

46 thoughts on “Home insurance premium up? Thank my clumsy dog”

        1. Hahahaha 😉
          I’m not laughing at you, I’m laughing WITH you. I swear.

          The “I swear” part has nothing to do with the previous sentence actually…

          (That totally crack me up, btw…)

  1. Oh Ned, this so made my day! We too, had a chocolate lab, Mocha, for 14 years. Our daughter decided to test his intelligence one day. She had read that you can do this by putting a towel over their head & see how long it takes them to get it off. The faster the escape, the smarter the dog. Mocha just sat there, contently, with the towel on his head. We laugh hysterically about it to this day! The good news is that there was not an aggressive bone in his body, He was the best dog ever!!!

    There must be something doggie in the air as I was prompted last night to write a post about my granddogs. Have a read if you like:)

    1. That sounds EXACTLY like our dog. Not too bright but the sweetest, most easy-going and best dog ever. If Old Yeller had been a chocolate Lab, he’d probably still be alive today.

      Heading to your post now! 😉

      1. Poor Yeller! He was only trying to protect his family…good Lord I cried at that damn movie!!! Your Stanley looks like a keeper:)

  2. Oh, poor Stanley, he has no idea how clueless he is. I sometimes think life might be easier (if full of surprises) to live like that. My parents use to breed labs and they have got to be the best dogs for children – endlessly patient and forgiving and not a mean bone in their body. And certainly capable of entertaining youngsters with their antics. But stupid is being too kind in description. Has Stanley ever seen snow? If not, you are in for a real treat when he does. Ha! You think he is brainless now? – wait until he discovers snow – he’ll go completely apeshit.

    Just as you “child-proof” a home, you also have to “Lab-proof” – a much more complex procedure. As you pointed Stanley can make an indelible impression on large, otherwise immoblie, pieces of furniture or gas lines, light fixtures, exposed electrical, garbage cans, etc. A locked, padded room would likely be safest and easiest on your insurance Ned. I don’t know about Stanley, but any other Lab I’ve met enjoys nothing more than a ride in the car – head out the window, ears flapping in the wind with the rushing air flopping his lips and making his natural stupid grin even more pronounced. Car also needs to be Lab-proofed.

    Ha! Thanks for the memories Ned! And may life with Stanley be ever interesting.

    1. Great memories, Paul — and so true about Labs. I have to say, though, that your description of riding in a car could just as easily have been applied to me… 😉

      Thanks for sharing those memories, Paul. And when we introduce Stanley to snow some day, I’ll make sure to let you know.

      Cheers my friend!

  3. Look at it this way…maybe he had to sacrifice his intelligence so another dog could have it to help people. A very good friend of mine just got a black Lab as a seeing eye dog. She said she can’t believe how smart her dog is. A match made in heaven. 🙂

    1. You know, I think you’re on to something there. My mom has a black Lab, and Rosie’s intelligence compared to Stanley is like Stephen Hawking vs Barney. No comparison. Not to sound racist, but maybe it’s a color thing…?

  4. Ha! I had a lab once. She was a lovely dog, but not the most graceful thing and a bit short on brains. She would try to climb up our six foot fence as if she could scale vertical walls. One time she got to the top and caught her paw between the boards. So there she was, hanging there, yelping hysterically, while I struggled to lift this 70 pound dog over my head to free her. My neighbors were most helpful, they promptly called the cops and reported me for attempting to kill my dog.

  5. Great post Ned. I have a friend whose Lab ate a pair of nylon hose. One leg worked its way through & was hanging out — there; the other leg he barfed up and had it hanging out his mouth. Serious as it was at the time (he’s ok now), the visual will never leave me and now it cracks me up. Not a lot of brain there.

  6. I just spent over an hour, doing a post on dogs and now you tell me it’s National Pet Day? I must have a 6th sense! Makes sense since none of my other senses are working. I am sorry your dog is clumsy. Mine has submissive urination issues, so I will trade you. My son must be part chocolate lab bc he has been told he needs a bubble. Perhaps John Travolta would be willing to do a made-for-TV-movie with Stanley–“The Dog In The Plastic Bubble.” Both could use the work, right? Plus, think of the product endorsements. My son spent $5 to walk in a carnival hamster ball last weekend; plaster Stanley’s image across it, and you can double that price. Just don’t put Stanley in the bubble. That might not turn out well.

    1. Sorry about not giving you a heads-up on the Pet Day thing. You’re on my blog tree now. It will probably get peed on.

      I could see the whole “Dog in the Plastic Bubble” thing playing really well. I’m sure Travolta wouldn’t mind doing a sequel, where he’s now in his 50s, still living in his bubble, but with a Lab suffering from the same condition. We won’t use yours, though; submissive peeing could be a problem in the bubble. Unless both parties are into that sort of thing.

  7. When I was little we had a german shepherd/lab cross. He didn’t have a mean bone in his body but gosh he was smart. I still remember the time he reversed up on my brother (constantly checking over his shoulder to make sure he was on target) and then sat on him. Revenge sure was sweet to old Texas. lol

  8. My daughter has a mixed breed, we think part Doberman, part German Shepherd. He is clumsy and regardless of it’s size, which is quite large, he still thinks he is a lap dog. He will run from the back of the yard, and god forbid you are sitting on a lawn chair because he will land on you. Yet, when we sleeping on our waterbed, as quiet as a mouse, he will gently sneak up onto our bed positioning himself between my husband and I. Now my beagle, well he is perfect.

  9. maybe he only heard the word ‘chocolate’ when he was being discussed as a young pup, (he missed the lab part of it), and he believes himself to be a giant family sized hershey bar? it’s the only logical conclusion i can come up with.

  10. I just love this post. I’ve been hoping for a “pet post” after reading about your pets in your book. Pets truly do make our lives richer and more awesome. My little Macy Grey (rat terrier) is laying at my feet as I type and Cleve (German Shorthair) is trying to help me type while drooling on the keyboard (or, maybe that’s me).
    I think Stanley and I are siblings…or kindred spirits. I have been known to face plant off the back of the couch a time or two 🙂

    1. Face-planting off the couch is endearing in both pets and humans. Though, in my experience, with humans it in tends to be less about “kindred” spirits and more about spirits of a different kind… 😉

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