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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,

Mom

P.S. Get off the couch.

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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?

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.

Worried.

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.

As Led Zeppelin used to sing, “Been a long lonely lonely lonely lonely lonely time . . .”

Except that you’re never alone with two airedales at your side.  Yeah, and the Pack Leader was here, as were a whole host of others. Okay, so I wasn’t lonely at all.

But gone? I’ve certainly been gone from here. You don’t want to hear it. But let me make it up to you and your critters with a little recipe for dog treats.

I am not a person who cooks for my dogs.  Much. But there are many good reasons to bake up a batch of dog treats at home.

First, it’s incredibly easy.

Second, it lets you control what goes into them (did you ever read the ingredients list on those boxes of store-bought treats?). Dinah gets itchy if she eats food with wheat or corn in it, for example, so I can leave those out if I make her goodies myself.

Third, it’s cheap.

Fourth, knowing how to make homemade dog* treats means you’ll never be at a loss for what to make your other dog-people friends at the holidays.

Fifth, dogs are easy,  so they’ll appreciate whatever you give them.

There are many dog treat recipes, but here is one I made tonight.  One I cobbled together after an hour of reading dog treat recipes online.  In an impressionistic  way. A long lonely lonely lonely lonely . . . oh, never mind.

Here’s what you’ll need–and bear in mind that all ingredient amounts are approximate. Start with less, add more as needed. Make substitutions as you see fit. Add other dog-friendly ingredients in small amounts. Have fun.

  • 2-1/2 cups of flour (because of Dinah’s food sensitivities I used some yam flour I bought online, but you could use white, whole wheat, a little cornmeal, or any combination of these–told you it was impressionistic)
  • one 16 ounce can of pumpkin (NOT pumpkin pie filling)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tbs of olive oil [Just this once, and just because the Pack Leader had just made himself some bacon and eggs right before I got started on this, I added a tablespoon of bacon fat from his frying pan instead of the olive oil; a spoonful or two of peanut butter could be used instead of either of these]
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder (if you only have garlic salt on hand, use it, but leave out the salt, above)
  • 1/2 cup of powdered milk
  • 1 cup or so of rolled oats

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and cover a large cookie sheet with aluminum foil or baking parchment (no need to grease either).

In a large mixer bowl, combine the pumpkin, eggs, and oil, then blend in remaining ingredients.  Add a little water if the mixture is too dry, or a little flour if it’s too wet, and mix until it’s the texture of soft play-dough. If it feels too soft or sticky, knead it a little bit with just enough extra flour to keep it from sticking to your hands or the counter.

Now you have a few options:

Roll out the dough (half at a time–this makes a lot) on a floured surface, adding more flour as necessary to prevent sticking. Cut circles or bone shapes (or–don’t tell Nemo–cat shapes) with a cookie cutter.

OR . . . roll out the dough and just use a knife to cut it into squares, diamonds, or bars. Let  your conscience and the size of your dogs be your guide as you decide how big to make them.

OR . . . take the easy way out as I did. Form the dough into ropes about 10″ long and about as big around as a man’s thumb, and use a knife to cut these into little 1/2″ nuggets.

Set the biscuits on the baking sheet at least 1/2″ apart and slide them into the preheated oven. After 20 minutes, check on them. They should be a light yellow brown color, and not look doughy in the center. If they don’t feel hard and dry (tap one on the counter), turn the oven down to 300 degrees and put them back in for 20 minutes more.  To be very sure they’re completely dry and crunchy, turn the oven off at this point and leave them inside with the door slightly ajar for an hour or two (or overnight).  Either bake the rest of the dough in the same way, or wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and put it in a zip top bag in the freezer. When you need more biscuits, thaw the dough and make another batch.

Bone appetite.

___

* A note on cat treats. Dogs will eat anything. Cats are picky. One Christmas we baked a big batch of these dog biscuits and a HUGE batch of tiny, fussy cat nibbles laced with canned tuna so we’d have bags of pet treats to take along to our friends at Christmas. The dogs gobbled up their samples, but the cats wouldn’t touch theirs for anything. We portioned everything up in cute bags and went to bed.  The next morning the cat treats were fine, but the cats had torn into several of the dog treat bags and helped themselves.

Oh, and the house smelled (not pleasantly) of tuna for days.

Things have been pretty quiet around here, dogwise–knock wood (please join with us in doing so).  The fridge has resisted the prying paws and nudging noses of marauding airedales for several weeks.  The warming weather has enticed them into spending much of their waking time romping happily in their big back yard. They’ve even been sleeping late on weekends and during Second Child’s spring vacation, meaning that we’ve all been able to enjoy a little extra sleep.

This past week, though, they both suffered briefly from . . . some internal disturbances. Without going into detail, let me just say that when you have two or more dogs operating within the same back yard, sometimes it’s difficult to tell which one is leaving evidence of being a little off in the digestive department.

Enter the humble crayon.

Not sure which of your dogs is leaving unpleasant gifts in the back yard? Try this:  peel some crayons, one bright color for each dog you own, and use one of those little square pencil sharpeners (or the built-in one found in larger sets of crayons) to grate just a bit of colored wax over each dog’s plate of food.  Just a little bit–good quality children’s crayons are non-toxic, but you don’t need to overdo it.  The next time they do what dogs must do, you’ll be able to tell which one has the collywobbles.

Aren’t crayons wonderful?

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.

Incessantly.

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.

Sigh.

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

Happy birthday, Dinah!

It occurs to me that, in dog years, she’s now only 2 years younger than I am.  And that by her next birthday, her dog years count will have surpassed my people years one. She’ll be older than me.

We’re not the sort to give the 4-legs birthday parties, but she’ll get plenty of attention today and maybe an extra treat or two. Anyway, the way we see it, Crispin took her out for a lasagna dinner last night.

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!”

“OH, NO NO NO NO 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.