Just as I was beginning to think Frodo was finally growing up to be a trustworthy dog he let me down again.
I had got into the habit – a bad one, as it turns out – of leaving the bucket of frozen dog food in the butler sink in the kitchen. At this time of year its usual resting place in the garage is so cold that the meat takes a very long time to thaw. The animals don’t seem to mind chewing chilly lumps of meat full of ice crystals but I don’t like handling it. Even though I wear gloves the cold bites through to my fingers and as I have to cut it into manageable pieces for Frodo it’s almost unbearable. I’ve tried giving him large lumps of meat but he gulps them down without much chewing and then it’s anyone’s guess whether they will remain where they’ve been consigned or be returned to sender.
Therefore I adopted the habit of putting a bowl of meat on top of the larder freezer. It’s more than six feet tall so there’s no chance of the dogs reaching it and Winston shows no inclination to leap up to investigate it. However, I couldn’t find a container suitable for five pound packages of animal flesh and didn’t relish putting the pail on the freezer. Being essentially lazy and always in a hurry I rarely use a step stool, preferring to stretch to reach things. I’m reasonably tall so it’s no great accomplishment. But attempting to retrieve a large container of fleisch (that German word is so perfect – I love it!) would be tempting fate and I had no desire for a raw meat shampoo and shower.
It had been some months since I had put anything remotely edible or lickable in the butler sink and so Frodo had dropped the habit of checking it several times a day. I thought – well, I didn’t think, really! – he had lost interest and was a reliable and well-behaved Dalmatian at last. (Is there such an animal?) The first couple of days of butler sink usage went very well. Frodo didn’t appear to be in the least interested in where his food was being defrosted. I relaxed – always a mistake when in the company of greedy canines.
Some of you may recall that Frodo is my Velcro dog; he’s happiest when he’s close to me or at least in the same room. He slumbers the days away, only stirring when the worms begin to bite or he hears the faintest sound of the fridge opening or bread being cut. Because of the daily anti-epileptic drugs he takes he is occasionally quite ataxic, tripping over dust motes and finding his front and back legs won’t coordinate but sometimes he can move stealthily and unobserved and so he did the other day.
It wasn’t very long before I became aware of the unmistakeable sound of a dog wolfing down food. It was long enough, however, for Frodo to consume almost four pounds of minced lamb and tripe and the accompanying wrappers. Roaring at him to desist, which did absolutely no good whatsoever, I arrived in the kitchen to find a bulbous dog, looking guilty but still trying to siphon up the last few shreds of meat. He was dispatched in disgrace to the garden and I looked around for alternative food for the starving Labradors. (Winston doesn’t care for tripe so he was unaffected by the sudden disappearance of supper into Frodo.)
I anticipated a busy night with canine and human sleep being disturbed, but Frodo slept like a baby – well, a puppy – all night, despite the rumblings and whistlings emanating from him. He was on short rations the next day when he finally assumed his normal, more sylph-like shape.
So, now it’s back to freezing fingers from arctic meat.
Winston can also be sly and skilful in the food stakes. I don’t often give him dried food- it’s not very good for cats and can cause urinary tract and kidney problems among other things – but I like to give him some variety in his diet so occasionally he has kibble, which he loves. I have a lidded box in which I store it but neglected to empty the new packet into it. Instead, I put the pack in one of the larder cupboards – foolish! As I passed it on my way to something else urgently demanding my attention I noticed Winston attempting to open the door and thought, ‘I’ll move that food in a minute.’
In the usual pattern of life in our house, I completely forgot about it until I heard a crackling, rustling noise in the kitchen and noticed that Frodo was absent. When I investigated, the incriminating evidence was on the floor, being observed by a rather disturbed Winston. He had pointed Frodo in the direction of the food and instead of sharing with him Frodo had put all the lovely nibbles inside himself and was looking exceedingly pleased. Another black mark for Frodo but as he’s covered in them it really didn’t make much difference!