Hoarding Treasure
by Holly Varni
June 13, 2013

Old wooden treasure chest with strong glow from inside










My dog of questionable intelligence is a hoarder. If there were a TV reality show about animals that hoard, she would be the star. (She already has the diva attitude for the job!)The itty, bitty pint sized pooch is wrecking such havoc.

Our precious family pet…all five pounds of her….hoards food the same way squirrels do for the winter. Any scrap that the kids drop on the floor immediately gets snatched up and tucked away.

She has hidden food in every nook and cranny imaginable, I suppose, for later use. After the laundry room started to smell, we discovered pieces of old chicken underneath the recycling and deep in the corner of the shoe cubby. On more than one occasion I have stepped into a pair of shoes only to find old turkey shoved into the toe.

As my oldest son reached into his backpack at school, he found her most recent stash. Apple bits and a dog food were stored at the bottom of his backpack along with apple and kibble scented notebooks.

I thought my dog was unique in this “hoarding” quirk, until I mentioned it to a friend of mine with a similar breed. As her eyes lit up, and she exclaimed, “My dog does the same thing!” She went on to tell me stories of her hoarding pooch.

My favorite story was when she looked under her bed and noticed torn fabric hanging down from underneath her box springs. After flipping the box springs over, she and her husband discovered that their hoarding dog had sneaked under the bed, torn a huge slit in the box spring cover, and had hidden ten pairs of my friend’s underwear inside! Turkey in my shoe suddenly didn’t seem that bad.

Why does my pampered household dog feel the need to hoard food? She’s fed regularly, including countless treats. I suppose she is playing it safe, planning for the future in case there is a food shortage. When I smell food rotting and can’t locate it, my dog never helps with the hunt. No doubt, my little darlin’ knows exactly what she is doing.

And why did my friend’s seemingly innocent dog not only go through the effort to create such an inconspicuous hiding place but also choose only my friend’s underwear for the treasured loot? It’s not as though the dog was playing with them in clear sight beforehand.

The habit of these hoarding dogs makes me think of my own kind of hoarding. Not the kind where social services and the police visit your house but the kind where I value something so much that I tuck away.

If I really love a new top or sweater, I’ll use it sparingly. I’ll put it on a couple times, but then it sits in my closet because it’s “too special,” and I don’t want to wear it out. It goes into that mental category of saving it so that it’ll look nice and new when I do want it for a special occasion. And then, it never fails, after a couple years I will take the coveted sweater out of its hiding place and wonder why I didn’t wear it more. “What was I saving this for again?”

How many of us own a special piece of jewelry from a loved one and only wear it to church? There is safety and security in storing away our treasures. We actually trick ourselves into believing that the item won’t change if we keep it hidden. We find assurance from having a stockpile of goodies, but like the food that rots or the clothes that become out of style, nothing lasts.

Our treasures should be enjoyed now. Don’t hoard it away. Life is too short, and the end will come soon enough. We can’t take anything with us when we leave this world, so we might as well use it and use it well. While you check email or go pick up the kids at school, wear that beautiful outfit that was purchased for a someday, something special. Wear the pearls your grandmother left you to the grocery store.

Take that ridiculously priced purse on your kids’ field trips. Spread that homemade knit blanket on the couch for the family to enjoy. Use your untouched, except for twice-a-year, fine china for dinner tonight. Fill that crystal vase that you received at your wedding with flowers today.

Another sweet friend reminded me that is was Laura Ingalls Wilder’s mother that said, “Special dishes are not for special occasions but for special people!” That is why she has her girls drink juice out of wine glasses every morning. What a wonderful memory for them.

I’m done with hoarding and keeping things safe and unused. I’m going to go serve my kids juice in champagne glasses and put on that special sweater to wear as I watch a movie on my couch with my grandmother’s blanket across my lap.

Break open your treasure chest and have fun!

What are the treasures you’re hoarding?