Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Flashback: McTavish J. Puppy Makes a Pig of Himself by Eating a Whole Box of Chocolates. Talk About Being as Sick as a Dog!

[Reminiscences, with special attention to our grandchildren. Please note that if you are bored, there are some in our family…children (but more adults than you can imagine)…who are decidedly fascinated.]

By his first Thanksgiving at our house, McTavish J. Puppy, Esq. was in full form…greeting everybody at the door with tail wagging so furiously I thought it would fly off…sniffing all the guests and ingratiating himself with everyone. He weighed seven pounds, had been housebroken and was bursting with delight at all the children in the family who played with him. He occupied center stage, even dominating the field over some of the babies—and then we went to the dining room for the inevitable turkey. No one paid attention to where McTavish was (some of us thought he would be making the rounds under the table begging for human food). We didn’t give him a thought (which was a great mistake). When later I strolled into the front room, I saw him standing on his hind legs, finishing the devouring of a box of chocolates one of our kids brought.

McTavish was admonished to drop down and abandon the chocolates—which he did. The move to take him out of the front room to a discreet place came too late. Violently ill, this was the culmination of his Thanksgiving. The siege continued throughout the night, long after the guests left (although the out-of-towners were staying at our house). When he was completely empty, I picked him up at midnight, lay down on the sun-porch couch and placed him on my chest.

“Now, sir. You have just been an object lesson in why puppies like you are not given human food.”

I don’t understand.

“No puppy ever does. It was our fault. We left the box of chocolates where you could get it. How do you feel?”

Empty. I could stand a treat.

“No we must give your innards a rest. Your nose is warm. If I could impress on you that your innards are not the same as ours and hence what tastes very good to you is not good for you—if I could do that, I’d save you a lot of grief. See, your regular dry food that the Mistress puts in your dish—the food you have every day—supplies you the nutrients you need and also spares you what just happened. Happened to you and to our carpeting, in the front room, down the hall as you made your way to my room…all the way through. But being a puppy you are passion’s plaything: what tastes good is fun to eat.”

Not right now.

“No but in the future. That’s why while you think us cruel, we deprive you of human food like chocolates in order to spare you—and us—what we went through tonight.”

Everybody has gone?

“Yes, they left while you were sleeping it off in the tank in the garage. Do you think you are well enough to spend the remainder of the night in your usual spot, in the television room?”

I would prefer to spend the night here, on your chest.

“Well maybe I’ll let you do this for awhile. Your tummy is rolling.”

Well, let’s not talk about it anymore. I’ll just try to sleep on your chest.


That was bad enough but Puppy awoke the next morning…no, not on my chest…I had carried him to his regular sleeping quarters in the TV room and he stirred not a muscle…he awoke the next morning having forgotten it all. It was scary but not the worst. No, probably the most scary thing happened the following year when on the 4th of July we went to the Magnor farm, owned by the patriarch of the Magnor family whose son married our daughter Mary.

We brought Puppy for his first excursion, allowing him to run free across the fields without a leash over many acres of fertile fields. All was fine; we had a wonderful picnic dinner and I must admit I sneaked a few bits of hot dog to him on the porch. The Magnor dog, Nick, a large Laborador with long, springy legs who could cover the distance between the house and the nearby fishing pond like a Greyhound, was on hand, paying very little attention to Puppy as befits a big dog’s habit of ignoring a little fellow. It didn’t bother Puppy who was on his glad-handing tour, greeting everybody, sniffing and barking delightedly at squirrels.

Then some of the men in the family began the ritual of preparing to set off firecrackers and roman candles. Shrewdly, Nick the Labrador, saw them getting ready and ambled up to the porch. With his nose he opened the door and settled down in the living room, an ear turning only slightly to the noise. We enjoyed the noise but then one of us said:

Where is Puppy?


Frightened out of his wits at the noise, terrified that something dreadful was wrong, McTavish J. Puppy raced unobserved down a trail and into the woods. On and on he went, his ears laid back in fright at the terrible sound.

Lillian and I thought that it would be very possible that we might not ever see McTavish again. The woods were alive with animals including fox and other predators. Puppy would be a dainty white-fur morsel. We canvassed the area and called his name. Finally one of our number, in a road runner vehicle trundled down a remote trail and out of the timber came Himself, badly shaken. He was scooped up and returned.

That night back in our house while he ruminated as he lay on my chest, he seemed to feel that for a time he would be irretrievably lost.

“You should have followed Nick,” I said. “He opened the door with his nose and went inside.”

Of course. But I just kept running further into the brush.

“No matter,” I said. “You’re back home now. The wild-wild outdoors is not for you, eh?”

I won’t go that far. But a time around the block on that super-long leash, running back and forth at squirrels, barking at dogs who try to invade my territory, is sufficient.

Then he fell asleep and once again was carried back to his appointed place.

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