This is the worse time of the year to be a dog owner. It is that time of the year when you buy chocolate and then more chocolate and then more. A box for mum, a box for friends, a tub for the office, selection boxes, advent calendars and cakes. The house is full of the stuff or is that just me. The worse thing about it is the dog, she has become the official chocolate detector. It’s not unusual for her to be waiting at the door when I arrive home and rummage through the shopping bags as I put them down and try to close the door with one leg and lock the car, which I always forget to do, but biting the lock button, as the keys dangle from my mouth. That usually leads to me having to abandon everything and go out and close the boot, will I ever learn. At this time of the year Pip my staffy cross can be more effective at sniffing out chocolate than a bomb squad dog is at sniffing out TNT.
This is the time of year when Pip becomes her cutest and most annoying. For those of you that don’t know, I bake, and this time of year there are a lot of chocolate cakes, chocolate flavoured cheesecakes, chocolate truffles and other things being baked. Pip is also I might add the official guardian of the kitchen. Nothing leaves that place without her approval, which means she has to try a touch of everything. No, I don’t let her lick the tops of the cakes and then smooth them back down, Pip always get a fingertip taste test.
I only have a small kitchen and you can imagine me juggling an oven door, a tea towel and pots and pans with a dog slaloming in and out of my legs. She sits by the door when she hears the food processor going and rushes to the kitchen to greet the food when the oven timer chimes. Unlike my old dog Bryn, who would sit watching the oven door and talk to the roasting chicken through the glass panel. I’m sure he was telling it to hurry up.
The righteous out there will now be saying that I shouldn’t give my dog chocolate, nor chicken. I cheat you see, I have on the mantle in the living room and by the side of the microwave, bags of dogs treats. She may smell chocolate but she gets lamb sticks or boar bites. But it still doesn’t stop her from being the sniffer dog from hell. This week has taught me several lessons.
1) Make sure that all treats are placed in high places before leaving the house. Coming home to a dog that has munched her way through two bags of treats is not good. A) because her foul-smelling botty burps saturated every fabric in the house for three days, B) because clearing up a million tiny pieces of cardboard and plastic wrapping is not how I expected to spend my Monday night. Also clearing out the vacuum because the plastic bunged up the tubing on Tuesday wasn’t much fun.
2) Don’t leave biscuits on the coffee table when you go to bed. We have this thing, it’s a money box that munches money, every time you go near it the mouth moves with the mechanical whirring sound that grates on your nerves. We never realised how loud it was until the other night. Having just got into bed, all was quiet. The mouth began its whirring chomp and we wondered what had set it off. I soon found out as a small dog ran scampering up the stairs. Must have crept the begeebers out of her. The next morning, I realised that the mouth was dangerously close to the biscuits. Perfect cookie thief deterrent.
3) Never leave a fruit cake out to cool. It was on the dining table, it was safe, it was not going anywhere and it was hot. There was no danger of it going missing. I was out in the garden emptying the bins. Having left the back door open she never heard me re-enter the house. The little tike had climbed up onto the chair and was sniffing the cake. There was a tea towel over it at one point which now lay on the floor. The thieving little bugger climbed slowly from the dining chair and slunk into the front room, tail between legs and ears down. I could see the teeth marks, it was obvious that Pip had tried to take a bite, yet it was still too hot for her.
Dogs aren’t supposed to eat currants either apparently, nor toffee, nor liquorice and as for brandy. Would someone that can talk to dogs please explain to our Pip that she isn’t a human and that these things are not good for her.
She sits there as though it’s an effrontery if I have my lunch without offering her some. I cook three rashers of bacon when I need only two, I have to put extra meat on my plate at meal time for her. I mean honestly, I wonder how she would feel if I sat there looking down on her as she tucks into her luscious duck and carrot pate?
Last year I had it all worked out. The professionals are aware of the strains and stresses on dog owners and have come up with a brilliant idea, Dog Christmas stockings. Not such a brilliant idea. It cost me three times as much to buy half as many treats in a fancy wrapper, which it transpired, our Pip doesn’t like. I tried the doggie chocolate, nope, her nose stayed firmly in the air at that one. The bones? Not a hope, they must have been old stock, she took one off me and then dropped in the middle of the hall, I ended up kicking it around a few times until I finally put it in the bin. The nibbles went down ok but she soon learnt that I only gave them to her when I had cheese or chocolate and would leave them, eventually eating them begrudgingly when she realised she wasn’t getting anything else.
I have been tripped up, bumped into, had toys left dangerously at the bottom of the stairs, chased her around the house after she has stolen bags from the shopping and been mithered and dogged for the past two weeks. She knows something is going on. She knows that I don’t clean the house his thoroughly for nothing. She knows that the shopping bags don’t usually smell this good. She knows that her treats aren’t the same as some of the goodies she can smell.
I want to say that it’s the exciting build up to the festive season that has her all of a dither, that somehow dogs know all about Christmas, after all dogs go to heaven don’t they, so they must know about Jesus. I want to say that she is a really loving, caring, remarkable dog and that her attention span and adoration doesn’t stop at her taste buds. I want to say that she is a good girl. Unfortunately, I can’t, she is a pain in the neck and I wouldn’t change her for the world. Pip is my chocoholic, cake stealing ball of dangerously clumsy pup.
So what if she gets treated at Christmas or any other time of the year. This year I’ve bought her Turkey dinner dog food, although I don’t know why I bother she’s still going to beg and steal from my plate. I wonder if dog food tastes better than human food. Don’t think I really want to try it and find out, do you?