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Just a note to remind you that it is a good thing that you are loving and brave and affectionate and drop-dead adorable. Without these qualities . . . well, we won’t go there.

May I remind you that:

* My foot is still healing (well, thank you, but slowly) from the deep gash you gave me last September, the one that resulted in a severe infection that kept me hobbled for 8 weeks and in a $1200 hospital bill we are still paying off. Yes, I know we were just playing soccer and that you didn’t mean to hurt me and I should have had shoes on, but . . . just saying.

* We still haven’t finished paying the $700+ vet bill that resulted, last month, from your decision to make a midnight snack of the shreds of paper in my office paper shredder, thus earning yourself an intestinal obstruction that required 3 vet visits, two rounds of IV fluids, a set of X-rays, and several medications to, um, help you rid yourself of the offending obstacle. And yes, we were thrilled to high heaven when you recovered fully without needing surgery, but . . . just saying.

* Friends and strangers are still looking at me with shocked sympathy and looking askance at the poor pack leader (aka my husband aka the man who pays the bill for that expensive dog food you eat) on whom they needlessly blame this beautiful shiner I have. I just don’t see why it’s hard for them to grasp that my lovely airedale was doing his big horn sheep impression and nailed me in the temple when I bent over to pick some violets in the yard, resulting in blackness, shooting stars, and nausea. And, yes, I love the colors yellow and purple, but not so much around my eye . . . just saying.

* We’ll even overlook, for now, the purloined lasagna, the ham, the seafood curry soup, the Christmas cake, the berry cobbler, the $20 bill, the pounds of stolen butter (yes, we know it’s your favorite), the steak (ok, your dad still isn’t willing to overlook that one)–and the cost of the baby security latch we had to install on the refrigerator, but . . .
just saying.

It might be time to chill a little.

Loving you all the same,


P.S. Get off the couch.

Remember the lasagna? Yeah, that one.

The one that Crispin ate in its entirety.

The one that prompted us to go out and buy babyproofing locks to put on the refrigerator.

He’s at it again.

This new lasagna has actually made it into its third day, which is, in itself, a miracle. So tonight I’m cutting pieces out of it to put into the oven to reheat.

Picture this: I have cut one neat, square piece of lasagna and put it on a baking sheet. I am standing (this is a very important detail) between Crispin and the naked piece of lasagna. I go to cut a second piece, only moving over a tiny bit, when . . . WHAM! Crispin dematerializes, and then rematerializes with the piece of lasagna fully encased within his capacious mouth.

Seriously. It was like something from Star Trek.

Then I put the remaining lasagna in the (locked!) fridge and now he’s sitting in front of it, studying it. I’m convinced that he’s trying to figure out how to take the fridge door off its hinges.

This is a serious threat. Remember, he has Swiss Army Paws.

Anyone for takeout?

And I could have, too–had my camera in my pocket at the emergency room and took some doozies, mostly just to help myself stay calm.

Crispin has been on a crazy mad soccer binge. We have to spell the word out–S-O-C-C-E-R–if we’re saying it out loud, unless we’re fully prepared to initiate a very long game. But Friday afternoon of the holiday weekend I was taking a long break from my desk. The pack leader and I took our respective lunches to the shady picnic table in the back yard, and Crispin joined us in the hopes of getting up a post-lunch pickup game.

What he loves best is for me to kick the soccer ball very hard and very far–gives him more time to show off his speedy and graceful returns. I had just figured out that drop-kicking the ball worked best, when, faster than I can type this, the dropped ball met the top of my (flip-flop-clad) foot, he grabbed the ball, and–bingo–everything went all slow motion as dog tooth met people foot.

I promised no photos, but did you ever see the very vintage Saturday Night Live episode in which Dan Aykroyd does his Julia Child impersonation? The one in which she cuts herself?

Yeah, that one.

It was like that.

The next few hours were rather a blur of getting to the local emergency clinic, filling out forms, getting a tetanus shot, stitches (only half the number the PA said he’d normally use for a laceration that size–apparently, animal bites* get infected if you sew them up tightly), and two kinds of antibiotics as a take-home prize.

The next few days were less than a blur–rather long, slow, couch-ridden days. Taking pills, soaking the lac, watching too much TV, reading, having those near and dear to me peel me many grapes.

Within 2 days after the event . . . well, again, no pictures. Suffice it to say that it got infected after all, I got further acquainted with the emergency clinic staff (did I mention that this all took place over a holiday weekend?), and I was in the weeds for a day or two. Now, 6 days after the event, I’m much better. Not there yet, but much better. The infection’s gone, but I’m still more or less benched from any extended walking (and no more dog soccer for the moment) until the stitches are out.

Crispin, of course, has no idea. But he was mighty glad to see me each time I got home from a clinic trip. And yesterday he brought me the ball again.

In a few more days, boy. Just a few more days.


*I was at great pains to tell everyone who worked on me that my dog hadn’t bitten me. We were just playing soccer, I kept explaining. And, you know, these things happen.

We’re 48 hours and counting since the bone-eating incident, and His Foodiness seems in every respect his same old charming, (very) active, affectionate, soccer-playing self.

I don’t think I’ll feel perfectly comfortable again until a couple of weeks go by without a problem, but tonight we may actually sleep. We’ve kept him under a close watch and haven’t left him home alone since he stole and ate the chicken wings (20 of them, for those of you just tuning in)  on Saturday night.

It’s funny (not in the ha-ha way) how, even when there’s nothing one can actually do in such a crisis, just watching, waiting, and worrying sucks the energy right out of you. We haven’t gotten much done around here in the past two days.

Thanks very much to everyone who asked about him (online and off). That means a lot.

So far, so good.  But it’s going to be a long time before I can look at a chicken wing again.

Don’t even ask how this stuff happens–it’s Crispin, and no matter how careful we are . . . this stuff happens.

The little boy-o managed to get into and eat roughly 20 chicken wings out of the fridge last night.  Cooked.

And thus dangerous. We did all the things you’re supposed to do. Fed him some white bread moistened with vegetable oil to cushion any sharp or scratchy bone pieces and to . . . um . . . move things along.

Watched him carefully, checking for signs of bloat, belly ache, or anxiety.


The pack leader stayed up to keep an eye on him until about 2:30 this morning.   Crispin whimpered on and off for a while (if nothing else, he must have been uncomfortably full). I took a turn at about 3, let him out in the yard, then brought him back in but decided to let him sleep out of his crate. He was quiet for the rest of the night, though starting at dawn every bird I heard sounded like a dog crying and I finally got up with him.

Worried about what I’d find.

Huh. He greeted me with his standard full-body wag and happily ate the bowl of white rice I gave him for breakfast (and then thoroughly scouted Dinah’s breakfast bowl looking for any crumb of kibble she might have left–no luck).

We’re not going to leave him alone for about another 24 to 36 hours. Fingers crossed.

And the fridge locked.

Think good thoughts about a dumb dog. With dumb owners.

If you’ve been following these posts, you know that Crispin has been in what we call his “extra Crispy” mode this week.  Making his pilgrimage to Refrigerator City has been a dream come true for him, and a nightmare for us.  A friend who’s been reading along (and who’s a licensed clinical social worker) sent me a helpful page of instructions, intended for families with children who have Prader-Willi syndrome (a rare genetic disorder, one symptom of which is insatiable eating), for putting a refrigerator into serious lock-down.

The analogy is apt. I’ve diagnosed him as being like a failure to thrive kid, except that his early deprivation was caused by a parasitic infection he had when he was a baby (roundworms and the dreaded hookworms). No matter what we fed him, he was still–literally–starving. At one point he was so anemic that his gums were white, and the vet was pretty sure he was going to die.

We pulled him through, though, and evicted his little tenants, but now the vet says the episode probably changed his brain in a way that’s left him–like the P-W kids–hardwired to seek food.


Especially butter, which he craves with an unholy passion.

We can’t leave any food out or even turn our backs to get the mayo while we’re making a sandwich or !POOF!, the sandwich is gone before we turn back. He and Dinah have to be fed separately–she in the mud room, and he out on the back porch–or he’ll bolt all his food and then eat hers. And, as I’ve documented here before,  I have caught him on more than one occasion standing on his hind legs at the stove, front paws propped on the rim, eating simmering or even boiling soups and sauces right out of the big LeCreuset Dutch oven.

When he was little he would eat so fast he’d sometimes choke on his food, and the vet advised us to feed him in a wide, flat metal bowl, then put a huge rock in the center of it, and spread or sprinkle the food around it so he wouldn’t be able to get to it as quickly, or to get him a set up like this:

or this:

We–being basically cheap thrifty types–went for the rock. Man, did he hate that rock. Once in a while we’d find the bowl rock-less and the rock itself tipped over the edge of the porch. We never did figure out how he got the rock out–better not to know, probably.

When he’s not gorging, he’s a delightful boy–glued to our sides (one of his many nicknames is “Velcro Boy”), loving, and very tuned in to the moods and feelings of the family. Second Child and I have often said that with the right training he’d make a great hospice dog. Unless the patient he was visiting had food–then all bets would be off.


Have any of you had a dog with an eating disorder? How did you handle it?

We’re going to try this again.

Last night we were all out in the den for a while. It was something that had to be done–this season the writers of Lost are finally starting to put pieces of the puzzle together. You can hear the (donkey) wheels turning now, you know? So the Pack Leader and I have decided to put on a real press to start at the beginning and watch all the episodes again as quickly as we’ve can until we get up to where we are in the show’s real life. Without, we hope, getting nosebleeds from the time travel.

I am not someone who watches a lot of television, but Lost is my drug. You can see where this has to be done, right?  After three episodes last night (viewing punctuated with murmurs of “Oh! Now I see!” and “That line right there? That’s the whole series in a nutshell” and “Oh, man, I’d forgotten about that!”), we headed to bed.

On the way, I went back to the front part of the house to turn off the kitchen lights and make sure that everything was in order before we went to bed. At about that time, Second Child came down from her room to get the nightly handful of carrots for her guinea pigs* and she preceded me into the kitchen.  And this is what I heard as she walked in:

“Oh, no.”

“OH, NO!”


It looked like a grisly crime scene. The fridge was wide open.  A carton of eggs (a brand new full carton of eggs) was upended on the floor, which was a soggy sea of crushed brown shells and bright yellow egg goo. One whole egg sat in the middle of the mess, from which sticky yellow paw prints led away.

To the right, the empty wrapper from a block of cheddar cheese.

Further to the right, a shredded piece of aluminum foil.

The foil which, until three hours earlier had covered (ominous music plays here as the camera pans to the left, to the bottom shelf of the wide open refrigerator) . . . a pan full of homemade lasagna. Made with great care. And homemade sauce. A pan large enough to have obviated the need for any more fancy cooking for the rest of the week.  A pan that was now . . . empty.

It seems that the latch, the latch upon which the secure future of modern civilization might very well hinge, had failed us. Pulled right off the side of the fridge.

We’re trying one more time. I have, as you see, repaired the latch. No one is allowed to touch it for one hour.

In the background, if you look closely, you might see a familiar furry foot. Aren’t they cute when they’re asleep?

If this doesn’t work, we may have to superglue Crispin’s paws together.


*One of these days I’ll write something about Pinto and Calico. Perhaps about how much we love little animals that can’t negotiate large kitchen appliances.

Crispin’s fridge-raiding days are over.

At least until he spots this latch we bought from a company that sells childproofing safety devices.

And figures out how to unlatch it.

We’re pretty sure it’s only a matter of time.

No, not the kind Crispin left in the yard (at 4:20 a.m. and again at 5:30 a.m.–yawn) after he stole and hastily consumed some yummy leftovers we brought home from a holiday dinner with dear friends last night.

No, this is the advice kind. Something important they think you need to keep in mind if you are the type who hangs out with dogs.

Especially airedales.

Enjoy. And do, in the coming year, remember to follow the motto that serves as our blog’s header.

With love and holiday greetings from Dinah, Crispin, and their people.

Mind Control.

Happy holidays from Dinah and Crispin

Happy holidays from Dinah and Crispin

In the November 1997 issue of Food & Wine is a charming holiday reminiscence by Julia Child. She tells of growing up in a comfortably well-off home in which her mother (with the help of the “upstairs maid”) pulled out all the stops when it came to setting the Thanksgiving dinner table.

At a last-minute pre-dinner inspection of the silver and damask and elegant place settings, Child’s mother noticed that the 18 individual silver butter plates were all empty of the perfect curls of butter she expected to see.  Erna, the maid, was also mystified.

“But I rolled them myself, using the chilled wooden paddle, the way you showed me,” the maid said. “I put them on the plates just a few minutes ago.”

Child goes on to say:

“Suddenly, Mother roared, ‘Where’s Eric?’ our dearly beloved old airedale. . . . Eric lumbered in and sat beside her with an attentive, ‘Who, me?’ expression.”

Case closed.

Crispin prefers to take his purloined butter by the stick. I think if he ever entered a room filled with soft lights and snowy linen, and found 18 plates of butter–unguarded butter!–he might simply faint dead away on the spot.

After he’d carefully cleaned all those plates, of course.

He is so shaggy. People are amazed when he gets up and they suddenly realize they have been talking to the wrong end. --Elizabeth Jones
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Nancy Hall ©2009
July 2020