72: Plastered Puppy

72: Plastered Puppy

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

Plastered Puppy

Not-so-fun fact: Alcoholic drinks contain many ingredients that are toxic to dogs.

“There,” I said, adding a final toss to the green salad and turning to face our guests. “We can head for the table.”

I grinned at the friends milling around the kitchen of our small Japanese house. We were part of a squadron of U.S. Navy pilots and wives stationed at a base in a rural Japanese town on the Inland Sea. Most of us were newly married, some with babies, and all without any family nearby, so we became closer than just friends. We quickly learned to depend on each other for everything and think of each other as family.

We were jammed in our little kitchen, laughing, as one of the guys asked incredulously, “You mean we’re going to eat lasagna Japanese-style? Your house smells like an Italian restaurant, not a Japanese tea room!”

“Sure, why not?” I told him. “Pasta or rice, it all tastes good, even when you’re sitting on a cushion on the floor.” I envisioned his long legs tucked under our Japanese table, which looked like a one-foot-tall coffee table.

He looked doubtful, but finally nodded his head. Good thing, as it was the only table we owned.

Then it hit me. “Where’s the dog?” I asked, looking around and through the sea of legs. Then, louder, “THE DOG! OH NO!”

We almost knocked each other down, pushing through the door to the dining room, where the table was set with plates full of lasagna. Well, some of them were — three were bare, with only remnants of red sauce smeared on the white china. Our one-year-old Cocker Spaniel was finishing off the fourth plate and headed for the fifth.

“NOOOOO!” I screamed.

Buffy shot me a quick look of utter surprise at my ear-splitting scream, then immediately, another one of indecision — should he grab the next plate of lasagna or look contrite? Only a split second passed as he looked longingly at the meat and cheese as well as the next glass of wine before lowering his head and acknowledging his wrongdoing.

I swear he was smiling. And a kind of “triumph no matter what the consequences” gleamed from his eyes when he next glanced at me.

Bill looped his finger beneath Buffy’s collar, saying, “Bad dog!” while banning him to our bedroom and slamming the door.

Fortunately, I’d made a second pan of lasagna to freeze and serve another time. Who knew we’d need it that night? Together, we washed and dried the plates and wine glasses, and returned to sit on the floor for our Italian feast.

Our guests laughed as they downed their dinner but I felt guilty for leaving Buffy in such a tempting situation. It was our fault for setting a dog-high table basically under his nose and then leaving it unattended. Never did I imagine everyone would gather in our tiny kitchen while our pup took full advantage of our lack of attention.

Occasionally during dinner, Bill or I would go check to make sure the puppy was all right. He was sprawled out on the floor at the foot of our bed, definitely breathing but not moving much.

Several times during the night, Buffy woke us with whines and rumbles. When we rose in the morning, we had to stifle our laughter. He had his paw over his eyes to block the light in the most human-like manner but it was obvious he was in distress. I made a sarcastic comment about payback for stealing food and wine, and he groaned audibly. We gave him water, and he spent all day outside where he could come to grips with his sour stomach and raging hangover.

In spite of it all, our puppy learned some valuable lessons and even taught us a few.

Never again would he touch Italian food. Never. Not that it’s a normal dietary item for dogs anyway, but he turned away from it throughout his thirteen-year life. He remembered too well how it had made him feel afterward.

Even more telling, he would not go near wine, beer, or any other alcoholic beverage again. One sniff and he would back up and shake his head. That one and only hangover forever taught him about the pain of drinking too much.

Clever dog.

~Jean Haynie Stewart

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