de Vos – There’s no partridge in this tree
Winter Park, CO Colorado
We have a couple of dogs. The first is a little yellow mutt that we named Cuervo because he can’t seem to hold his licker. The other night during dinner, I slipped him some broccoli while my wife wasn’t looking. OK, I confess, I slipped him all my broccoli because to me, broccoli doesn’t taste as good as other healthy vegetables like prime rib or Key Lime pie. Precisely three minutes later, Cuervo hurled up his entire dinner in the very center of the living room rug. He has a nervous stomach, a holdover from a traumatic childhood before we adopted him from the Granby Shelter.
Now, I always approach life’s little challenges with a calm demeanor and a studied approach but my wife, whoa, she’s a pistol. So when the dog hurled, I calmly ran for the garage because, of course, I can’t stand such a sight. I leapt quickly but my wife feinted left, ducked right, and wedged herself between me and the garage door and stood her ground. She raised her arm. I cringed and covered my face, peeking through my fingers. She was pointing to the roll of paper towels.
Our basset hound, Freeta Goodhome, also a shelter refugee, was upstairs sprawled on her back, enjoying her precious slumber in the middle of her Select-Comfort bed. She was rudely woken by all the commotion downstairs, not to mention the string of window-rattling curses. She hopped off the bed and ran wagging downstairs in hopes that out of the ensuing chaos, there would be some little treat for her; perhaps the leg of a cow had somehow fallen off or something. She’s an optimist.
As she hit the bottom of the stairs, Freeta bounded around the corner, then screeched to a halt, eyes widening in horror as she watched her buddy’s recycled dinner scooped up and thoughtlessly tossed in the trash. Immediately she was stricken with sympathetic hunger pangs, despite the fact that she finished her own dinner ten minutes ago. She got frantic and started shouting and campaigning on Cuervo’s behalf, “Hey, hey, hey, hey! That dog now has an empty stomach! You! People! There must be a can of Spam in that huge cupboard you guard like an old bone!”
The poor hound was so distraught at the thought that a dog in her very own household had missed a meal, that she raced out into her dog pen and gulped down a slow pine grosbeak pecking around in the snow. If only that were the end of the story. Like Jonah in the Whale, the bird sat in the hound’s gullet for two days before the half-digested corpse erupted back into the light of day, landing squarely on the same spot on the living room rug where Cuervo deposited his own meal a few days earlier. The ensuing fracas made the Chernobyl melt-down seem like an idyllic picnic.
You’re probably thinking this is not a Christmas story but you’re wrong, it is. Last weekend we went to the Granby Shelter to have our mutts’ picture taken with Santa like we do every year. Rich, one of the Animal Control officers hoisted her corpulent body onto the sleigh and politely remarked, “Say, it looks like Freeta has lost some weight.”
“How kind of you to notice,” I replied, “she does eat like a bird.”
My wife chimed in, “Yeah, like a bird a day.”
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