When we took Rascal, our long-legged, cocker terrier mix to dog obedience classes, the instructor took one look and called him, “A cocker spaniel on stilts.” More like a cocker spaniel on pogo sticks.
Soon after we adopted Rascal we learned that he not only lived up to his name, but he had a phenomenal vertical leap. One evening we came home to find a package of hamburger buns that had been left on our thirty-six inch tall kitchen counters, missing. I located the empty bag in the living room. The tooth marks surrounding the hole in the side looked distinctly canine.
I went upstairs and in our bedroom found several uneaten buns stuffed between the pillows. What he didn’t consume he was going to store away like a squirrel saving nuts for the winter.
I didn’t know whether to laugh, or spank him. So I did both.
But Rascal had the last laugh. The next day I was heading upstairs and met him coming down. He had a half eaten bun in his mouth. He looked directly at me and wolfed it down before I could retrieve it from his jaws.
We learned quickly to keep attractive edibles off of counters, tables, and the island in the kitchen. But one mistake stands out in our memory.
A client sent me a gift in thanks for getting them tickets to the Rose Bowl. My mother stopped by our house to pick something up, saw a FedEx package on the porch, took it inside, and placed it in the center of the kitchen island. To her, it looked like a book or something other innocuous. But Rascal’s keen sense of smell told him that it was something special.
We arrived home thirty minutes after my mother departed. In the family room we found the FedEx package–one end shredded, a one pound box of chocolates, and sixteen little paper cups that had once contained candies. Rascal, was not hungry.
I called the vet because we knew chocolate could be poisonous to dogs. She assured me a dog could eat up to an ounce of chocolate per pound of body weight before it would be fatal. So considering it was sixteen ounces of not-pure chocolate and he was a thirty-two pound dog, he should be okay. Then she added the understatement of the century. “But, he might get a little sick.”
That night was one of the longest in our lives. Every half hour to hour throughout the night I got up and took him outside so he could expel partially consumed chocolate out of one doggie end or the other. If it hadn’t been a cold January night, and the fact he had a noisy bark, he would have slept on the back porch.
We survived the night. And still after that, he continued to help himself to whatever snacks he could pilfer but he did avoid chocolate.
Rascal has since passed on and we can be more indiscriminate about leaving things on the counter. But when Rascal breathed his last I should have said a prayer, and suggested to God that he raise the counters in heaven a few feet.