My sympathies to our mail carrier. Each day, he must endure the quirky and bizarre habits of our dog, Tuff. Although they’ve never been properly introduced, they’ve had a love/hate relationship on both sides of our front door for years.
Tuff is our black lab, a rescue dog thrown away by a family that no longer wanted the responsibility of a pet. Yes, he has his issues and habits, but it’s those freakish tendencies that make up his character. He’s extremely loyal, filled with affection and a need-to-please personality. He has a particular fascination with any FedEx delivery person, UPS driver or contractor with a loud truck. He notices them through the side windows of the front door, trying to intimidate with his deep bark, while prancing and pacing about with confidence.
Yet, he has an obsession with the mailman. He hears the mail truck and its muffled engine each day. Prior to delivery, the mailman parks in front of the house, organizing the mail for residents of our street. Tuff often stands at the door, wagging his tail with a low growl ... waiting to ward off his favored stranger.
Our mail is delivered through a squeaky slot in the front door. Any time the mail slot opens, he runs for the door, sliding on the wood floor, eager to investigate. Because of bulky magazines and various other parcels, the mail is often repetitively delivered through the slot, falling to the floor for Tuff to destroy. Tuff finds pleasure and satisfaction biting the mail as it’s pushed through. He looks like a carnivorous mad dog.
Many times I’ve come home to a pile of mail scattered on the floor, ripped to shreds or punctured with teeth marks. I’ve read thank you notes and bank statements resembling a practice target. At first, I would scold him, voicing disapproval for his behavior. Yet from a dog's perspective, he’s doing everything correctly. Someone is entering his domain, and if he barks and acts like a lunatic, the invader leaves.
Mail that was left for pick up was consistently found on the floor, undelivered. On a recent trip to the post office, I inquired about the problem. I can live with holes in the mail, but the failure of pick up didn’t make sense. I feared my mailman had given up. I explained the situation and the manager apologized and said he would speak to the carrier. Fortunately, the carrier was at the post office and wanted to see me.
As we talked, he told me that while picking up the mail, Tuff grabs whatever is in the slot. If he didn’t let go, the letters would rip. He had graduated from carnivorous mad dog to playing tug-of-war with the outgoing mail. To Tuff, it had become a game of territory. We laughed about Tuff’s odd behavior while I apologized profusely for what this patient mail carrier has had to endure. He never complained, only smiled while expressing familiarity with the territorial dogs on his route.
A lesson was learned. Mail carriers tolerate a number of less than desirable situations. We know and love our animals and often think others love them too. I'm sure your mail carrier prefers his/her safety over the sentiments of your canine. They risk and often tolerate such beasts because it’s part of their job.They deliver mail in freezing, wet weather, walk on unshoveled sidewalks, while consistently encountering the bizarre habits of our animals.
To our special mail carrier, Tuff and I say thank you.