R and I went out for dinner tonight. We had Korean food, as we did last Christmas day, and the restaurant was amazing. I had exactly the same experience that I did last Christmas, though, which is that the food was so good that I ate too much and then I was uncomfortable and by the time we got home, I felt vaguely hostile to the restaurant. But really, the food was terrific: we had their Korean version of sushi for an appetizer, which was yum, and then they do little dishes of vegetables, including a pickled radish, sesame seed green beans, spicy tofu, a sweet potato thing that R decided was too good to share with someone who doesn’t like sweet potatoes, fish cake, kimchi…and I’m not sure what else. But yummy food, which I say to remind myself, and which is not my story.
So this is my story: when we got home, the dog — the naughty, naughty, BAD dog — had gotten into a bag of Lindt truffles. R saw the ripped up bag first and he was scolding her and upset before I even got into the house. The dog is, as per usual, completely insane with delight that we’re home, madly excited, dashing between us, while R stomps around, mad as anything. It was his present to me, so he’s upset that his present has been destroyed, but he’s also upset because we’ve done this with Zelda before. This being the emergency vet visit, several hundred dollars, stomach pump thing.
I’m looking at the bag and trying to figure out the math. This will be the fifth time that Zelda has gotten into chocolate, which might say that we’re really bad dog owners, except that Zelda is a Jack Russell terrier who can get into anything. Seriously, she opens closed doors by standing on her hind legs and using her paws, she opens cupboards with her nose. She can leave the backyard any time she wants, through multiple routes, and the only reason she doesn’t (most of the time) is that she knows I don’t want her to, even if she doesn’t understand why. The only object in the house that she hasn’t figured out how to open is the refrigerator, which is a good argument for keeping all chocolate in the fridge, but it was a present. Who keeps presents in the fridge?
So I’m working on the math. Six ounces, partially dark chocolate, and three ounces is the magically bad number for dark chocolate for a dog of her weight, but there’s some left in the bag, and how many servings are there in the bag? Even as I’m trying to figure that out, I’m also trying to take her pulse. Racing heart beat is a symptom of chocolate poisoning for dogs — that’s how they die, really. But it doesn’t feel that fast. It’s fast, sure, but she’s excited that we’ve just gotten home and bouncing around and…it’s normal fast.
I lean in and take a big whiff of her breath. Her breath is not lovely. It never is. But it doesn’t smell like chocolate. Or like vomit. It was the vomit that I was trying to smell. On one notable occasion, she had her stomach pumped and only a day later did I find the pile of chocolate vomit under the bed in the spare room that would have told me the stomach pumping was unnecessary. I found said vomit because she went back to it for a snack–gah, dogs–and I smelled it on her breath. So I’m smelling but there’s nothing there, no chocolate smell, no vomit smell. And she’s settling down. We’re home, that’s good, and maybe she’ll just take a little nap now that she can relax.
But a dog in the midst of chocolate poisoning? Is not going to be taking a little nap.
I finish my math. Ten truffles are missing. Presumed eaten. I go into the spare room to look under the bed. I don’t get there. In the back corner of an arm chair is a Lindt truffle, half under the cushion. She didn’t eat it. She didn’t even break the wrapping paper. I start searching. Over the course of the next hour, I find eight of the ten missing truffles. One in her window dog bed, one in the dog bed under my desk. One in the couch in the living room, another in the arm chair. One in my bed, one under a pillow in the guest room. And so on.
A 9th is, I am sure, in my closet. I can tell from how she’s acting now. She keeps going into the closet but when I follow her in, she acts innocent and quickly leaves. She’s figured out that I’m stealing her treats. I have no idea what that feels like from a doggie perspective. She did some perfectly good hunting, gathering, and storing for later, and her pack leader has screwed it all up. Does she think it’s unfair?
Along the way I find a bag of pills — Vitamin C maybe? — that she has also stashed. The citrus smell reassures me that it’s nothing too scary but some guest in my house, I don’t know who, lost a lot of pills at some point. Oops!
By the end of the hour, I’m totally comforted that the dog hasn’t eaten enough chocolate to be dangerous and the dog is sulking. And R is not happy. In fact, he’s pissed at Zelda — she ruined his present. Not cool.
I point out to him that it was actually kind of fun in a way — like an easter egg hunt. Been a long time since I got to do that. I didn’t mind it and was amused by her creative hiding with the last couple chocolates. He says, “Oh, I should view this an as an entertainment value addition to my present?”
I say, “well…” and then point out the real plus. When we got home from dinner, I thought the dog might die. I was faced with the real possibility that Zelda had eaten enough chocolate that we would lose her. On Christmas Eve. On CHRISTMAS EVE! The relief of knowing that no, that wasn’t going to happen? Golden. The joy of realizing that the ridiculous dog had hidden chocolate all over the house? Priceless.
R listened to this and nodded. And then he said, “So the perfect Christmas gift is for me to threaten to kill the dog and then not carry through on the threat? Handy. And cheap. I’ll remember that for next year.”
I think he has not quite forgiven her.
But it made me laugh.
And I’m allowed to share it, because he told me just the other day that it was okay if I told stories about him online.