40: Pumpkin Pie

40: Pumpkin Pie

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: My Very Good, Very Bad Dog

Pumpkin Pie

Fun fact: A dog’s pregnancy is relatively short, usually between fifty-eight and sixty-five days. Thus, many of puppies’ organs, including the brain, aren’t fully developed at birth.

Wiping my hands on a towel, I looked out the kitchen window and laughed. Nine Golden Retriever puppies chased their sixty-pound mother across our fenced-in back yard, trying to nurse as they ran. The five-week-old pups had been on dry dog food for a week but still enjoyed frequent milk breaks. As a first-time mother, Chelsea was still unsure how to handle her large brood.

I stepped out the back door, and the harried mama skidded to a stop beside me on the patio. “What’s the matter, girl? Are they pestering you to death?” I scratched her behind the ears. “I bet their teeth are sharp, too, aren’t they?”

Chelsea knocked away a persistent pup with her back foot and looked at me with imploring eyes.

“Sorry. I can’t bring them in. Not with eight people coming for Thanksgiving dinner.” I turned to go back into the house, and Chelsea tried to nose her way through the door. “No, you can’t come in either. I’m too busy, and you don’t behave well inside.”

A few hours later, with the pies baked and the smell of succulent turkey filling the kitchen, I glanced out the window again. This time, Chelsea was running backwards, the pumpkin-colored pups in hot pursuit.

I looked at my watch. Two hours until dinner. Maybe it wouldn’t hurt to bring Chelsea in and give her a little break. I opened the back door and whistled. She streaked into the house before her tormentors could catch up. After settling her onto the laundry-room floor, I went to straighten up the bathrooms. I returned to the kitchen in time to see the pitiful, overworked mother with her paws on the counter, licking up the last of our pumpkin pie.

“Chelsea!” I grabbed her collar and shoved her outside, all sympathy for her plight gone.

Back in the kitchen, I searched the pantry, hoping I had another can of pumpkin. Green beans and English peas lined the shelves, but no pumpkin. Now what? My family doesn’t think it’s Thanksgiving without pumpkin pie. I jumped in the car and sped to the closest convenience store, expecting to find pumpkin sold out. Luckily, there was one can left.

As I mixed ingredients, I fumed over having to bake another pie with so many other things left to do. I should have known better than to bring Chelsea in. Slipping the new pie beside the roasting turkey, however, I remembered past holidays and what it felt like to have kids hanging onto my leg while I cooked and cleaned. Maybe I could identify a little with my beleaguered dog. But wait until everyone found out they almost missed out on pumpkin pie because of her!

I had just taken the pie out of the oven when our dinner guests walked through the door.

“Poor Chelsea,” my mom, the inveterate dog lover, said. “Those babies are chasing her all over the yard. Couldn’t you let her come in for a little while?”

I shook my head. “Not on your life, Mom. She’s already had her Thanksgiving dinner.”

~Tracy Crump

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