If the Shoe Fits, If the Dog Fetches

by Kath Woodward
I have had quite a few dogs in my life. I am a dog person and dogs have always been part of my life. As a child we had spaniels, boxers, corgis and sometimes puppies who resulted from a mixing of the boxer and the corgi!
I also have a huge number of pairs of shoes: lots and lots all over the house, not really neatly put away in appropriate cupboards. Shoes and dogs probably don’t mix apart from cosy images of the dog bringing you your slippers at the end of the day. Dogs, especially puppies have a tactile relationship that can be destructive especially to fashion shoes: dogs and shoes don’t really lie happily together.
We have had several labradors over the last thirty years, the years when our four children were growing up and the dogs are a reference point, central to our lives together. Each of these labradors has shared my delight in shoes, especially delicate strappy high heeled sandals, or flowery Boden flip flops or patent pumps. Dogs, of course prefer the shoes to be in their mouth. Sam loved my shoes. Long after the chewing stage of puppyhood, he would collect any one of my (nobody else’s in the family-just mine) shoes and take it to his basket in his mouth, his soft mouth designed for retrieving birds undamaged. Eppy, his companion for many years and also a black labrador was different. She was lean and athletic and Sam was chunky and slower. Eppy was different in her relationship to shoes. She didn’t bother much with my shoes until the last 6 months of her life, when, having been diagnosed with a tumour on her lung when she was only 9, but still quite lively (steroids work-for a while) she began collecting my shoes, one at a time. She would just pick one up and carry it about. She died last month and I am sad. I have a pair of Repetto black patent pumps that I shall keep for ever ( even though they are a bit tight). She loved them and one has a clear tooth mark in the toe. Hers.
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2 Responses to If the Shoe Fits, If the Dog Fetches

  1. Alexandra Sherlock says:

    What a lovely story, it brought a tear to my eye when I saw the photo, she looks like a lovely dog. I have the same problem with my 6 month old puppy although his shoe chewing habit now seems endearing after reading your post! What is it about shoes that they love so much? Is it that they smell like us or is it more about the shoe itself I wonder. I gave Alfie an old pair of my trainers in the hope he’d leave the others alone but he seemed to lose interest once he knew he was allowed them, so maybe it’s because they know it’s naughty. Fascinating!

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  2. Jenny Hockey says:

    Nellie, our border collie, chewed eclectically in puppyhood: tables, chairs, books, my skirt as I sat at breakfast. But her daughter Flora earned a lifelong title ‘Flora the shoe-eating dog’. Her habit was hard to forgive once she’d grown up, hard to bear when she’d only take a small bite from one of a pair, a neat curve down the heel seam that made them both unwearable. There was no gusto in her destruction. It was mean and relentless. We learned to be ferociously tidy, never slipping shoes off under the settee. Friendships were tested when we failed to spot visitors’ shoes left on the floor. Flora had been the youngest of her litter, the butt of her big brother’s thuggery. She reminds me now of Lionel Shriver’s Kevin, uncannily knowing in her selection of what to destroy and how.

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