Two months ago, Rich and I left the house for the evening to have dinner with friends.

Two months ago, Rich and I left the house for the evening to have dinner with friends.

We had run out of our homemade dog food gruel of chicken and rice, so Rich put some chicken in a pot of water and turned it on "high" to get it started. Well, it started, all right! Four hours later, we pulled back into our driveway to see our house completely engulfed in white thick smoke. The smoke alarms were all screaming. I felt sick; as I was sure we would find seven dead dogs inside. By some miracle, they all survived. There were deep scratch marks on all the doors where Lily had tried to open them (She does open doors). But, we had them all locked so they were trapped. Nine weeks later, we are still trying to finish the clean up on this frightening, humbling mess.

Last week, the counter was to be replaced and also the week our grandchildren came to stay. They always come to see us the last week of their summer vacation, the week before school starts. Gram's kitchen was completely out of commission. We were on a first name basis with McDonalds staff by Thursday.
The kids always look forward to meeting the new FFAA orphan at our house and this visit, it was Axel. Axel made their visit a memorable one! All trash receptacles, shoes, toys, remotes, toiletries — pretty much anything chewable or edible — had to be placed off limits to Axel. He climbed in drawers and cupboards, shredded newspapers, magazines, dismantled a rocking chair, chewed the garden hose, rearranged my linen closet, unrolled countless toilet paper rolls and swam in the doggie water bowls.

As we left to take our grandchildren to a movie one afternoon, we put Axel in his "pen" in the "dog room." I can't believe we actually said, "He can't hurt anything in there. It is dog proof" (You are ahead of me on this one, aren't you?).

Returning home from the movie, we felt some apprehension as we opened the door to the dog room (justified!). Axel had apparently easily scaled his exercise pen. We had a high lamp table in the corner where we had a small stereo system. We thought we had it barricaded to protect from puppy attack, but not so. He had bailed over the arm of the couch and into the corner where he knocked over the lamp, ceramic knick-knacks, the stereo, the speakers, and did a little teething on the speaker wires. When he got bored with that (I think Axel is ADD) he tried to climb back out of this decimated corner and couldn't. That apparently scared the "you-know-what" out of him, which just added aroma to the corner full of surprises! Most things from my kitchen counter had been moved to an oak breakfast table in the dog room while the counter was being reconstructed. Somehow, Axel finally escaped his corner of destruction and turned his attention to the table where he discovered, among other things, a pan of brownies which he knocked on the floor, dislodging the sealed lid and devoured the entire contents.

Thirty minutes later, Rich and I were still on our hands and knees, cleaning, muttering and dreading what those brownies were going to do to Axel's digestive system.

Monday morning, a delightful young couple came to meet Axel. As soon as they sat down, Axel stole their car keys, which he deposited in middle of the yard. As they retrieved those, he doubled back to nab Amanda's billfold and the chase was on again. At that point, we expected them to get right back in their car, but praise God, they didn't. They thought this happy, crazy puppy was adorable and his greeting quite amusing! I had been as honest as I could be with them when they submitted their application but they seemed undeterred. They said they'd survived puppyhood with their other young mastiff and were absolutely sure they were up for the challenge. They were young, energetic, experienced and a perfect match for our Axel! Rich and I "high-fived it" and went out for lunch to celebrate after we said good-bye! Sometimes, we think we are getting too old for this!

Leanne Williams writes a weekly column for the Daily News.