Generally, I am pretty good at keeping my word to my dogs. I don’t tease them about going for walks or rides. I don’t promise them a nice piece of T-bone steak and then renege on the promise. And I don’t ask them if they want to play and then take a nap. Still, with all that goodwill in the bank, my dogs don’t believe me when I say “all gone.”
To be sure, if my dogs deigned to speak to me, they would probably express their doubts about the efficacy of my nose rather than call me an outright liar; pointing out their ability to smell planktonic morsels of food far outstrips the capabilities of my meager proboscis. It wounds me just the same.
My attempts to visually prove that the plate, bowl, or whatever container that previously held the food in question is empty, are met with smug skepticism. As I show them a container that would appear empty to an electron scanning microscope, they tilt their heads ever so slightly upward to better increase the airflow to their nose. The investigative sniff ends with an accusatory stare that Tomás de Torquemada would have been proud of.
The problem is that on occasion they’re right. Sometimes there is a “visible to the human eye” piece of food that has escaped my notice, and so, I am no longer to be trusted. This has resulted in a frenzy of forensic behavior at the scene of the consumption, sometimes before the body is even cold. Take the following for example.
Eating Popcorn in Bed
Even the tidiest of us will occasionally miss our mouths when eating popcorn in bed. Placing the popcorn bowl on the nightstand seems to be a universal cue for the exhumation to begin. First, any visible pieces are suctioned up with Dyson like efficiency. Then, the covers are thoroughly tossed again and again to ferret out any loose kernels. The exhumation then moves on to the most degrading part of the process; rolling the body over to check for hidden kernels. Using their noses as cold, damp pry bars, they roll me over and check for kernels underneath like anteaters looking for a termites.
The couch is another area of forensic interest. Shoving their heads between the cushions in search of a stray kernel the dogs disregard the warning signs about the crack monster. They hike the cushions off to revel any buried treasure left by the denizen of the couch. I’ve even had one of my dogs find a kernel in the couch and instead of eating it, he gently placed it on my lap and stared at me for 15 minutes straight.
If there is one thing my dogs can be more precocious about than popcorn detection, it’s chicken pickin.
They pick up the smell of the roasters after about 15 minutes in the oven and consider anything over two hours of cooking time to be an obscene joke. They hold up the fact that I let the chickens rest 20 minutes before I start carving as proof of my sadism and untrustworthiness.
I start with the birds on a small island resting on the cutting board with three containers, one for white meat, one for dark meat, and one for the legs. The dogs lay in a semicircle around the island, each one making sure that they are in plain sight. I carve the legs and breasts first which they take for delay of game. As I finish the last breast, I can see the pools of saliva forming on the floor under each dog in anticipation of the carcass carnage to come.
As I start picking the carcass, I normally throw some skin and fatty pieces to the dogs, each in turn. They seem happy and alert as this process continues until I’m down to waste and bone. This is of course is the calm before the storm. After the chicken has been put away and the carcasses have been disposed of, the real inquisition begins.
If you’ve ever played the touch game with your dogs, you would recognize what happens next as my dogs continuously nose the trash can and wait for it to dispense a piece of chicken. With the can bogarting the carcass, they turn their steely eyes on me. They come over and inspect my hands with intense scrutiny; no matter how thoroughly they’ve been washed, they refuse to believe a morsel can’t be found.
It doesn’t matter that much of the dark meat picked will supplement their kibble during the coming week, they believe I am attempting to hide evidence of food that is rightfully theirs. “After all,” they reason, “ you’ve lied to us before. “
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