Library Version of ‘My Dog Ate My Homework’

I volunteer behind the circulation desk of my local library a few hours a week.  I look forward to my weekly chance to greet and assist our patrons.  Every minute is an opportunity for a new adventure or discovery.  As with most journeys, I experience and savor the high points and persevere through the more challenging bumps.

I empathized with a patron who returned a canine mauled book with a trade paperback edition replacement in hand. Unfortunately, according to our circulation policies specific to lost of damaged items, we can’t accept replacements purchased by patrons, but must charge for the replacement cost, plus a small handling fee. Why not take the replacement from the patron? In the case of print books, it’s usually because the bindings available from retail outlets won’t hold up as well as print editions bound for library circulation.

In the case at hand, the trade paperback edition replacement brought in by the patron would not have held up well through many checkouts as the original hardcover library bound one would have (sans dog teeth).



I tried to ease the patron’s pain by relating similar dog disasters I’ve experienced through six Rottweilers and a Malamute:

  • Whole roasted chickens (more than one and different dogs) and grilled steaks
  • A jigsaw puzzle (I have one piece left and part of the cover to the box)
  • Anything leather, including dress shoes, belts, coats and furniture
  • My daughter’s prescription eye glasses
  • My daughter’s digital camera
  • Siding on my house
  • Wheel barrow handles
  • A hot tub cover

I’ve been fortunate that all of our dogs have stayed away from the hundreds of books I have shelved in my house or lying around on various end tables in different states of reading disarray.  I guess they just don’t smell very appetizing.  Or maybe it’s because I don’t have any leather-bound volumes?

And I always relate our best dog obedience story.  If you’ve ever owned or rescued a Rottweiler, you know they are basically walking stomachs.  You’re constantly distracting them from overeating.  They won’t self feed.  In fact, you should probably put the dog food bag under lock and key.  I’ve come home form work more than once to find a comatose Rottweiler with a pregnant belly and half the 30-pound bag of dog food missing.

Before my husband and I leave the house to go shopping or to a movie, we police the kitchen, placing a gallon jug of carpet cleaning solution on top of the trash can lid and put any bread, rolls, chips, etc. in the ‘bear locker’ (also known as the oven).  Placing the gallon jug on top of the trash can is actually us admitting defeat.  When we first rescued Roxy, we despaired of keeping her out of the trash.   We actually did take Roxy (and Rachelle) to obedience training, so we asked our trainer what we could try to keep Roxy out of the trash.  She suggested setting a mouse trap on top of the trash inside the can.  We were excited to try this technique and put it into play the very next day.

The next time we took Roxy in for training, I made sure to take a Ziploc baggie containing the slivers and splinters that was all that remained of the mangled mouse trap after Roxy got a hold of it.

Hence, the gallon jug and the bear locker.

Dogs may be man’s (or woman’s) best friend, but they won’t necessarily be your books’ best friends.

If you find yourself in a similar situation with your checked out library materials, don’t panic.  And don’t buy a replacement before first checking your library’s circulation policy with respect to lost and damaged items.  We are here to help you and we will work with you whatever your situation.

And might I direct you to 636.7 in our non-fiction section . . .