Stealing My Heart by Halves

My dog is smart.  He possesses a degree of intelligence that suggests forethought, planning, and sometimes even the ability to downright scheme in order to accomplish his sinister goals.

For example, there was that time last year when the dog destroyed one of his very favorite toys, Angry Bird, for like, the third time.  (Every time he destroyed one, my mom would get him another. [Such enabling, Mother!]  It was like replacing the dead pet hamster with a new one when the small child wasn’t looking.)  Knowing the dog’s propensity for rescuing deceased toys from the trash bin under the sink when we weren’t looking, I took Barnaby for a walk while Mom cleaned up the foamy remains of Angry Bird and put them in the trash.  All seemed well.  When I got the dog back to the apartment, he didn’t appear to notice that we’d disposed of a favorite toy.

Hours passed.  And then, while Mom and I were in our respective bedrooms, the dog knocked over something in the living room.  Mom and I came running, to find that Barnaby had strewn the contents of a wastepaper basket about.  We set about cleaning it up, only to find five minutes later that Barnaby had used our temporary distraction to enter the kitchen, open the cabinet, remove the remains of Angry Bird, and try to hide them in my room.

So, yeah.  The dog is smart.

Perhaps the most frightening aspect of his considerable intellect is his ability to exploit the weaknesses of human memory.  This is most apparent in the way that he goes about stealing food.

Like most dogs, Barnaby has figured out that it’s best to wait until no one’s watching.  Like most dogs, Barnaby has learned to target lower counters and tables.  But unlike most dogs, Barnaby has also learned that it is best not to steal the whole portion of whatever’s cooking.

A few weeks ago, a friend and I went out for tea.  We brought back a lot of leftovers, in two small clamshell take-out boxes.  I decided to repurpose one of the boxes to send my brother off with some cupcakes, and so I opened both boxes, and used the lid of one to hold the contents of the second.

There it was, sitting innocently on the counter: a clamshell box open to the world, full of yummy tartlets and finger sandwiches.  Barnaby came.  Barnaby saw.  Barnaby desired to conquer.

So he waited until everyone was out of the kitchen, and then he reared up to the counter and proceeded to eat only the food that was in the lid.  The other side, he left untouched.

I came back into the kitchen a few moments later, saw the box, and thought, “Huh, that’s funny.  I could have sworn I put leftovers in that half of the box.”  It didn’t even occur to me that the dog might be involved until I remembered that, weeks earlier, he had stolen toast out of the toaster while I was in the bathroom.  Not both pieces.  Just one.  And it took me until I had finished my breakfast to remember that, YES, goshdarnit, I HAD made two slices, not one!

And because you’re not supposed to scold dogs once the moment of their indiscretion has passed, both times Barnaby got off scot-free.

My dog: the Moriarty of kitchen crimes.












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