71: Our Vegetarian

71: Our Vegetarian

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: I Can't Believe My Dog Did That!

Our Vegetarian

You’ve got about as much chance as finding a vegetarian pit bull terrier.

~Author Unknown

Canines are generally known as carnivores, and their teeth are appropriately designed for shredding and ripping prey. Little did I know our pet dog had an alter ego, and would use those pointy teeth on harmless vegetables.

The fetish was first discovered when we decided to plant a garden one summer, not long after we added Brandy, a beautiful copper brown Golden Retriever, to our family.

Rows of corn, potatoes, lettuce and carrots were carefully planted in the freshly tilled soil, as well as mounds of cucumber, squash and zucchini plants. For our collective sweet tooth, we added enough watermelon and cantaloupe plants to satisfy a small army.

After weeks of watering and fertilizing, sprouts, and then produce, appeared and we were excited. Soon we would enjoy, literally, the fruits of our labor . . . fresh, tasty, homegrown produce.

Brandy was an outdoor dog by choice, and we kept her kenneled most of the time. However, she was able to exercise frequently, and daily, and enjoyed energetically running around. She never strayed far, and unless there was a cat or squirrel nearby to chase down (but only to sniff, never to harm), she faithfully stayed on our half-acre property.

We checked the garden daily. It was exciting to see nature at work, our own personal food supply growing in the back yard near the end of our property line. Then one day we noticed paw prints in the dirt between the fertile, rich growth. My wife suspected raccoons or some other form of wildlife, maybe even possums, probably visiting our garden while we slept.

I was never a hunter, but I was tempted to purchase a rifle. This was our garden and no hungry animal was going to reap the delicious dividends of weeks of our dedicated, hard work.

Later that week I let Brandy out and she sprinted straight to the garden. I assumed that she smelled the scent of whatever creature had been visiting our land during the nighttime hours. And then my eyes widened as I witnessed her seek out a large, oblong cucumber, rip it from the vine, locate a patch of comfortable grass to lie down on, and proceed to eat the vegetable as if it were a large, juicy bone.

“Brandy!” I yelled. “What on earth are you doing?”

She grabbed her prize and ran off, continuing to eat the cucumber until it was all but gone.

I told my wife that it was an inside job, the culprit being our own beloved, trustworthy best friend.

Over the next few weeks we discovered her penchant for all produce, including tomatoes, squash and especially corn. She particularly enjoyed jumping onto her hind legs and selecting an ear of corn, skillfully twisting it off the stalk, then shucking the husk off with her jaws before devouring the kernels from the cob. We learned she had no preference between white sweet corn and yellow — she relished both.

She also enjoyed digging up potatoes, like a pirate exploring for treasure. Only she didn’t need a map to locate the bounty.

Eventually we gave up the fight to protect the garden and allowed her to enjoy herself, at times even playing with her and her produce. One of her favorite games was chasing down small watermelons or tomatoes that we bowled across the lawn. She would scamper after them, pounce, and then devour her captured prey. Some dogs chase balls; ours chased fruit.

Another game we played was to hold out an ear of corn, verifying that we had her full attention, then like a quarterback on a football team, cock our arms and toss it across the yard, spiraling through the August air.

But her favorite activity, being a bird dog retriever, was to go to the pond near our home and leap with reckless abandon into the water to swim after a cucumber or zucchini that we tossed. She played a game with herself after retrieving it that included pushing the vegetable beneath the surface and then pursuing it while underwater. The dog was skilled at swimming while holding her breath. Finally she would return to shore with the remnants of the vegetable, excited and proud.

Years later when Brandy died, we buried her. We lovingly wrapped her in a blanket and placed her inside a large box, then included many of her favorite toys and bones. Of course, one of them was a red squeaky tomato.

~David Michael Smith

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