The Canine Paper Shredder

Thanks to my friend Bruce Atchison for inspiring this post. On his blog a couple of weeks ago, he wrote about how one of his rabbits loved to chew cardboard. Years ago when I was single and working as an activities assistant in a nursing home here in Sheridan, Wyoming, Dad acquired an Irish setter he named Maud.

She was about a year old when he got her, but like any puppy, she still loved to chew paper. Heaven help you if you left any important documents lying around. One day after printing an e-mail message Dad received from my brother Andy, who was living and working in Colorado at the time, he placed the letter on the table next to his computer and went to take a shower. Later, he found Maud happily shredding the document. Fortunately, it hadn’t been totally obliterated, and he was able to get it away from her and piece it together with Scotch tape so he could read it to me later when we had lunch together.

I believe this happened a few years after the Iran Contra scandal. At the time, I joked that Oliver North would have offered Dad a lot of money for Maud because if he had a dog who could shred paper, he wouldn’t have had to use the paper shredder at his office to dispose of his incriminating evidence.

Years later, I wished I had such a dog, not that I needed to get rid of any proof of wrongdoing on my part. I was serving on the advisory board to the Montgomery Trust, a fund that provided grants to visually impaired people and the agencies that served them to buy adaptive equipment and services. After reviewing the applications and either approving or denying them, those documents needed to be shredded. Because they contained confidential information about the people applying, they couldn’t just be tossed in the wastebasket. Twice a year, I ended up hauling at least a hundred of those applications to a local office services store and paying a nominal fee to have the papers obliterated. Just think how much time and effort I could have saved if Maud could have done all that for me. But by then, she had outgrown that habit.

In fact, I think she outgrew it by the time she spent her first Christmas with us. This was a good thing since the Johnson family Christmas present opening extravaganza would have been an even bigger mess than it usually was. Mother loved to save wrapping paper so it could be re-used the following year, and she hated it when we kids tore into our presents with reckless abandon. I hope that wherever you are this year, you’ll be able to open and enjoy Christmas gifts with your family. Please click on the link below to hear me sing a song that echoes this sentiment.


I’ll Be Home For Christmas


Abbie Johnson Taylor, Author of We Shall Overcome and How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

Author: abbiejohnsontaylor

I'm the author of two novels,, two poetry collections, and a memoir with another novel on the way. My work has appeared in various journals and anthologies. I'm visually impaired and live in Sheridan, Wyoming, where for six years, I cared for my totally blind late husband who was paralyzed by two strokes. Please visit my website at

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