99: The Great Christmas Cookie Caper

99: The Great Christmas Cookie Caper

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Dog Did What?

The Great Christmas Cookie Caper

A cat, after being scolded, goes about its business. A dog slinks off into a corner and pretends to be doing a serious self-reappraisal.

~Robert Brault, rbrault.blogspot.com

One of the most amazing gifts I’ve ever received came in the form of a grossly overweight six-year-old Golden Retriever named Nemo. Nemo was owned by the neighbors of my wife’s hairdresser. For a variety of reasons, the dog’s weight was allowed to balloon to over 170 pounds. The vet told the owners that the dog would likely die soon if something wasn’t done about his weight.

I’m not normally much of a volunteer, but in spite of the fact that we were in the midst of adapting to a rambunctious six-month-old Golden Retriever puppy named Molly, I offered to do what I could to help Nemo. Something about his story touched my heart.

The original arrangement was for Nemo to alternate weeks between our house and that of his owners. We were both to do our best to get him out walking and monitor his food intake. Since I enjoy walking anyway, it wasn’t hard for me to incorporate Nemo into my routine. It seemed that his owners had trouble finding the time to do their part. I was just about ready to give up on the deal when they asked if I’d adopt Nemo. I felt I shared a bond with the dog and was happy to take him full time.

Of course I had to get my wife’s blessing and convince her of the benefits of having two big dogs in our house. It really didn’t take much effort since she seemed to like Nemo too. Molly enjoyed having him around, and except for the occasional turf battle, the transition went smoothly. Nemo became an official member of our family.

We watched Nemo’s food intake closely and walked him three or four times daily through all kinds of weather. His diet consisted of three cups of dog food per day, and his treats were mostly bits of raw fruits or vegetables. It took nearly two years to get Nemo below one hundred pounds, but he did it!

There was one major bump in the road for Nemo. When he was around eight years old, he tore his right ACL and had to undergo surgery. This injury probably resulted from being so overweight for so many years. But Nemo endured the discomfort and pushed through the arduous, boring, and likely painful rehabilitation regime. Within six months he was back to his old self.

What we found in Nemo was a gentle, wise soul who had the heart of a warrior. One day while on a walk an unfamiliar dog approached us in a very aggressive manner. In the blink of an eye Nemo positioned himself between Molly and me and the other dog so he could meet the charge head-on. He quickly ran the aggressor off. As I said, our gentle giant has the heart of a warrior.

Nemo embraced his new active life with enthusiasm, and begrudgingly put up with the reduced rations. But while Nemo lost—and kept off—over seventy pounds, he certainly didn’t lose his deep affection for food! Given an opportunity, our boy has proven many times that he can and will eat just about anything. One of the more notable incidents was what we now refer to as the Great Christmas Cookie Caper.

One of my wife’s holiday traditions includes baking hundreds of intricately decorated Christmas cookies for get-togethers and gifts. She would put some cookies on foil-wrapped trays and store them on our porch until needed. We never had a problem with this arrangement until one holiday season.

One night, after we had been asleep for a few hours, Nemo let me know that he needed to go outside. He barely made it out the door before his bowels exploded! This scenario repeated several more times during the course of the night. It was very unusual for Nemo to be ill and we could not figure out what was wrong. The next day I noticed that the door to the porch was slightly open.

As soon as I walked onto the porch I saw why Nemo had been sick. I remembered that I snagged a couple of cookies after lunch the previous day and I must not have secured the porch door after my cookie raid. Nemo was obviously presented with an opportunity he couldn’t resist. By the looks of the demolished trays, it appeared that Nemo indulged himself with about one hundred very fancy cookies!

A quick call to the vet put us at ease when we were told that our big boy might be uncomfortable, but would be in no serious danger. As best as we could tell, our little Molly had taken no part in the Great Cookie Caper and she seemed to enjoy being the “good dog,” even if just for one day.

As for my wife, I’m still trying to make it up to her.

~Jim Carey

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