Growing up, I read a lot of Native American folk tales. I read a lot of books period. But before I got a library card, I read what we had on the shelves. We happened to have two volumes of Native American folktales, so I read those early on and many of the tales featured coyote, the trickster. I often think of Ayla in the same vein. She is clever, sneaky, and motivated by her own interests, so in essence, a trickster.
Recall how I had been teaching Ayla not to jump on the furniture? Ayla has a sister called Layla. (Yes, I know. It’s adorable.) I’m friends with Layla’s human through Facebook, but Layla was a notorious counter surfer and was always getting into trouble pulling things off the table and counters. I figured since I had never seen Ayla jump on my table or counters, she understood it wasn’t allowed, and just didn’t bother because there wasn’t anything she could reach. As it turns out, Ayla did know better, and she was totally doing it behind my back when I wasn’t home. This was during the period when I started leaving her loose in the kitchen while I was at work. I simply wasn’t aware, because she really couldn’t reach anything, and therefore nothing seemed amiss when I got home. I didn’t learn of her stealth behaviors until I logged into my dog walking portal one day and saw this message:
I cursed and my colleague looked up from his computer. I said, “My dog walker says that my gas stove was on when they got to my house, and it damn sure wasn’t on when I left the house, so my dog must’ve turned it on. Thank god she knocked the knob past the gas point and at least got it onto fire.”
That rattled me though. I immediately googled “child proofing kitchen stoves,” found a set of knob protectors at Babies “R” Us, reserved them, and picked them up on my way home. I removed the knobs from the stove, attached the knob covers, and locked them shut. The next day I came home to several knob covers containing knobs lying on the floor. One had been slightly chewed upon. I pulled out the trusty Sriracha, reattached the knobs, and painted hot sauce on the outside. That stopped all further stove meddling activities, but the knob covers were a little too bulky for my stove and so they all flew off every time I opened the oven. Eventually, I just gave up and removed everything.
People think it’s funny when they come to my house and see my stove, which has no knobs. All the knobs sit in a pile on the counter. I explain that my dog is a pyro, a trickster, and I don’t actually trust her home alone with the stove, so I decided it was just easier to only attach knobs when I needed to cook.