Einstein, my Siberian Husky prominently displayed on the front page of this blog, is going to turn 10-years-old this January. Average age for a Husky is 12 years, so he's definitely getting up there in dog years. I've noticed, with not a small amount of sadness, that he's dropped a couple teeth in the front and he seems to spend more time during the day sleeping than he does racing around the yard chasing birds and squirrels. His first Christmas, he was not yet a year old, and he was about full grown, but completely full of energy for every waking moment of his day. At night, I'd bring him in and he'd sleep either in his crate in the hallway, or next to me on the floor by the bed. I was always careful to leave the door to the bedroom shut in the latter case as he'd go wandering upstairs during the night and see what kind of snacks he could dig out of the trash. Being male, he'd also feel obligated to leave a few doggy "emails".
So, like I said, I tried to be careful to keep the bedroom door closed and was pretty successful. Come Christmas eve, however, he managed to get out. I think because both myself, and my other-half were sneaking upstairs to put "special" presents under the tree - you know, the old "Santa came last night!" schtick. One of us, in our midnight creeping about,left the door open. One of the gifts brought by Santa was a bag of See's hard candy. The candy came in three flavors - vanilla, butterscotch and chocolate. Anyway, when we awoke Christmas morning, it was to find Einstein sleeping on the couch (knowing full well he was banned from said spot) and a pile of neatly unwrapped candy wrappers on the floor leading from the couch back to the tree. Under the tree, were two un-eaten and unwrapped candies: one of the vanilla, and one of the butterscotch variety. Every piece of chocolate, however, had been unwrapped and consumed and he now snored in a chocolate-induced coma. (Side note - I wasn't worried even though I know chocolate is toxic to dogs as this variety of candy was only chocolate-flavored.)
Ok - now fast-forward ten years. We have two dogs now -- Einstein and a brown hound-dog named Bacon. They're approximately the same age and they share quarters in our laundry room at night on some very comfortable moving pads. Since the laundry room has a door out onto the back patio, we have installed a screen door on the inside of the inner door that leads into the laundry room from the hallway between kitchen and bedroom. This way, the dogs can participate without coming inside on rain days, etc.
Bacon is a food whore. There's no polite way to put it. Sarah picked her up as a stray from a job site and this dog's central focus has always been her food. I really think the poor thing was starved as a pup and she's only aggressive when it comes to food. Like, count-your-fingers aggressive after handing off treats.
The screen door has aged poorly and both dogs, being above average in both intelligence and street-smarts, have figured out how to open the door on command. So, most nights, we have to close the original inner hard door to keep them from roaming the house. Bacon will clean out any food left on the counters, spew trash across the kitchen floor in her hunt for food, as she's always totally convinced she's starving. Einstein will randomly wander looking for easy pickens' and then head for our bedroom to crash on the floor by my side of the bed. Bacon, after cleaning out every available scrap of food, will wander back to sack-out with one of the boys.
Sarah, in the last couple weeks, has been putting Christmas together. Last weekend, she spent both days volunteering for a local charity and handed out approximately 8,000 toys to kids. Every niece, nephew, grandchild, child, cousin, sister, brother, boyfriend will get a little something from her this year. She made up a lot of these gift bags as, all year when she gets paid, she gets a little something here, a little something there, and stashes it for birthdays, Christmas, or whatever. For the last week or so, the living room looks like a Christmas bomb has gone off, but finally, all the gift bags are stashed under the tree, and we're almost done with the gifting.
Thursday morning, I wake up at 5:30am to get ready for work and see Einstein lying next to me on the floor. I think "Crap - the dogs got out." and get up, and walk out of the bedroom into the short hallway and see their screen door standing open...I turn into the kitchen and here comes Bacon, slinking like she knows she's been busted and, without a word from me, slink-slinks out into the laundry room. I jump into the shower and get cleaned up, come back into the kitchen and start the coffee pot, head into the bedroom to get dressed, and Einstein is still laying on the floor.
"Come on - let's go outside."
"Do I have to?", he asks very plainly with his eyes.
He heaves himself up to his feat and I escort him out to the laundry room.
Fast foreward...I'm at work, about mid-way through my day and I get a text from Sarah: "Dogs got out last night and ate about $40 worth of xmas prsnts".
Uh-oh. I text back: "lol - looks like they got theirs early. can we replace?" (as in, can we afford it?)
I go back to work, and don't think about it until later that evening, getting ready for bed, she brings it up. I immediately defend Einstein by telling her about how he was sleeping next to me, and Bacon was all guilty-acting and slinking back to the laundry room. She folds her arms, and gives me that smirk, letting me talk, letting me hang myself. I trail off, "so, Einstein just slept...here...no...foraging..."
Sarah says: "Let me tell you. Einstein was definitely involved."
"Yeah, how do you know?" I'm getting ready to go all Perry Mason on her.
"Because one of the dogs went to each and every one of the bags and pulled out the hot-cocoa mix and ate it. Nothing else was missing from the bags. Bacon tore into the big bag of popcorn and got it everywhere. But the hot-cocoa was neatly consumed right in front of the couch.
I looked out into the hallway, at the screen door, in the evening darkness I could barely make out Einstein's face, watching me. I narrowed my eyes at him and said to Sarah, "Your Honor, the Defendant would like to change his plea to guilty..."
Ya gots to know when to fold them....