One near-Christmas day several years ago I left a bag of groceries in the car with Gilly while I stepped out, walked five paces, and returned a rented DVD through a drop slot.
Something I knew: Gilly doesn’t steal.
When I returned everything was undisturbed except the dark-chocolate Toblerone bar which had been near the top.
I panicked, since chocolate is pure poison to dogs: they can’t process the theobromine in it, and dark chocolate is especially high in the chemical.
I called the vet, who told me to administer two tablespoons of hydrogen peroxide to Gilly, and to do it outside, because the results would be quick. I wasn’t at all convinced this was going to work, but did it: Gilly very obediently drank the spoonfuls, wandered around the yard looking at stuff for a minute or two, then whipped his head around to look at me in alarm, his eyes huge, before he projectile-vomited a jetstream of liquefied chocolate which landed in a pool at my feet with a Toblerone label – nearly whole – at its center.
Something I know now: Gilly doesn’t steal, unless it’s chocolate.
Or unless there is some other out of the ordinary event.
Or unless the other dogs are doing it.
During a holiday, schedules are disrupted, there is chaos and delicious food all over the place, there are presents and an obvious payoff for opening wrapped things found in unusual places. From a dog’s point of view, it’s perfectly sensible to bend the normal rules: everyone else is doing it.
Dogs do what everyone else is doing.
There was one youthful incident involving a bowl of whole nuts (still in their shells), the suspicious-in-retrospect close observation by the dogs of the human use of the nutcracker, and the return home after a couple of hours away to find a carpet of empty shells across the floor and no trace of the nuts (except in the yard over the next diuretic 24 hours). I think of this as more an impressive comprehension of tool-usage than as a random theft, but it still made all the dogs sick.
Then there was another box of chocolates swiped off a high counter where I thought it was safe, which made Gilly extremely (and painfully) ill.
Now I keep all chocolate in the fridge, and scan the floors, coffee-tables, dining tables, counters, and trash cans for anything toxic (chocolate, onions, etc.) or potentially edible in problematic quantities before leaving any dog – even my very good dog – unsupervised. I’m especially careful with dogs in groups: like some other species (yes, I’m thinking of teenagers), they incite each other to new heights of crime.
I’ve seen other people’s dogs eat whole loaves of unrisen dough (oy), pots of sauce, turkeys, hams – anything we are stupid enough to leave unsupervised where they can get it.
Good dogs don’t steal.
Unless they can.
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From VetBlog: Holidays Pose Threats for Pets
There are a lot of nightmare stories about dangerous dog toys, like this one – common sense and research go a long way toward safety and fun.
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And for levity, here’s the funniest story of canine crime I’ve ever read:
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Remember, a long walk is always the present a dog appreciates most.
Also, it gets you away from the family dysfunction.
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