While my wife and I were on vacation, my parents were kind enough to take care of our Old English Sheepdog, Molly. They live out in the woods near Kenora, so this is a real treat for Molly because she can run free out there; plus, my parents are retired and home during the day, so she isn't alone as much.
Now, life with Molly is always a bit of an adventure, so when we got back from Hawaii we called to ask how things were going, and sure enough my parents had a lot of stories to tell. Most of them were pretty typical Molly stories (running directly at oncoming vehicles, licking one of my dad's leather slippers so thoroughly one night that it is now hard as a rock since it dried out, and general tales of her legendary clumsiness), but one story truly stood out.
As the story goes, one night shortly after we left, my parents were relaxing in the house watching TV. As with most dogs, Molly likes to be wherever the people are, so she was lying in the room with them, off near a wall. As they all sit there, my dad begins to pick up the scent of something unpleasant. Now, Molly is well known for her profound ability to light up a room, so to speak, so assuming Molly has just let loose, my dad continues to watch TV in hopes the smell will soon dissipate.
As the minutes pass, however, the smell not only remains, but it strengthens. And it doesn't smell quite like gas... it smells like burning. So my dad starts to look around for a fire. He wanders out to the kitchen, around the house, looking for the source of the smell. Nothing seems out of the ordinary, but the smell is still there. As he is doing this, Molly goes to the back door and waits to go outside, so my mom lets her out.
Over the next few minutes they continue to look around for the source of the smell, but nothing seems amiss. So they resume watching TV, and sure enough the smell starts to lessen.
Later, Molly barks to come inside. As my dad lets her in the door, he discovers the source of the smell: all down one side, Molly's fur is a nice burnt orange. It seems she was sleeping next to an electric baseboard heater, and her fur must have pushed up against the heater coils and caught fire. Luckily she didn't go up in flames, but rather the fur must have smoldered for awhile, causing the smell. It seems that she never even noticed, and most likely just went outside to either avoid the smell, or because she was feeling a bit on the warmish side... likely from being on fire!
Looking at her now, about 2 weeks after the incident, the burnt fur isn't very noticeable, although it does cover quite a large patch of her right side. My dad says that for the first few days it was very obvious, and that everyone who saw her immediately asked what she'd gotten into, or why her fur was discolored. So he would have to tell them the story of Molly catching on fire, and most listeners would respond by telling him that he'd better trim the fur off and pretend that nothing happened if he ever expects to be able to watch his soon-to-exist Grandchild.
All I can say is, he's going to have to try harder than that if he wants to get out of babysitting.