“I took my dog out walking in the country the other day,” a friend told me. “You won’t believe what he did.”
“He ate blackberries right off the vine.”
I tried to act impressed.
“And here’s the really amazing part,” he continued. “He only ate the ripe berries. Wouldn’t touch the ones that were still red.”
“That’s something!” I said, not wanting to one-up him by telling him I’ve never owned a dog that DIDN’T eat ripe blackberries straight off the vine. So I changed the subject just a bit. I told him about a dog my family had when I was a little girl–a rat terrier named Trumps (my parents were bridge players) who would stand under the kitchen table at suppertime and eat every green pea I could slip to him. (I hated green peas. Still do.)
Which set me to thinking about other unusual things dogs my dogs have eaten.
When I was in grammar school, my family had a pet beagle named Sally. We also had a half-dollar sized pet turtle—in the days when such a thing was legal—named Simon. He lived in a glass bowl with multicolored gravel on the bottom. Also in the bowl were two little plastic palm trees and a flat rock that Simon could climb onto when he wanted to get out of the water. On a beautiful spring morning, I decided to set Simon’s bowl outside on the picnic table so he could get some fresh air and sunshine. The minute I turned my back, Sally jumped onto the picnic bench and then on to the table and swallowed Simon whole.
I didn’t speak to her for days.
A few years later, a redheaded dog without a collar showed up in our yard and wouldn’t leave. Being a family filled with redheads, we promptly fell in love with the dog and named him Butch. These were the days when milk and butter and eggs were delivered twice a week to the doorstep of every house in the neighborhood. Which is how our redheaded dog soon came to be known as “Butch, the egg-sucking dog” and the reason my parents quickly fenced in the back yard.
One hot summer afternoon, Butch was sprawled on the kitchen floor pretending to nap. But he was really watching my mother painstakingly cut up and fry two chickens. When she was done, she placed the fragrant golden pieces on a flowered platter, laid a dishtowel over it, and went outside to take the bed sheets off the clothesline. You can guess what happened next.
The amazing part of the story is that Butch managed to carry out his dastardly deed without breaking the flowered platter.
My brother Rusty, who is a huge “Gunsmoke” fan, once had a coonhound named Miss Kitty. One Easter Sunday morning while we were at church, Miss Kitty got into the Easter baskets and ate a dozen Peeps, a pound of jellybeans and three giant chocolate marshmallow bunnies, none of which seemed to hurt her a bit. As far as we knew, she never even threw up. But if she had…well, never mind.
And then there was Molly, my beloved black Lab whose favorite form of mischief was to scarf down ripe tomatoes she’d stolen from the garden. She died when the harvest was at its fullest, which seems only right. Before we filled in her grave, we added a single perfect red tomato.
Next week I’ll tell you about Buster, who eating habits were so amazing they deserve an entire column of their own.
(July 6, 2014)