Anyone who has ever had a dog has had a food-related disaster. Whether it involved an actual food item or an item mistaken by your pooch for food, chances are it had the same unfortunate outcome.
I’ve lost count of how many socks, underwear and cuddly toys have met their untimely end via my overenthusiastic Labrador. Scraps of foil, cling film and kitchen towel have reappeared more or less intact, whilst he’s had surgery for both an ingested fish hook and a stone. Yes, a stone. Apparently anything is deemed edible when you’re a Lab.
What about your dog? What’s the weirdest, scariest or most unbelievable thing he or she has ever consumed?
My anecdotes almost exclusively involve those notorious food-hounds, Labrador Retrievers. While it’s true that three of the five dogs I’ve had in my life have been Labs (all black, all male, as it happens), it seems this insatiable breed has more than its fair share of culinary culprits. Case(s) in point:
- Cider, a lanky chocolate (indeed!) Lab, devoured 52 freshly chocolate-chip cookies that were cooling on racks well above nose-height in my sister-in-law’s kitchen. Fortunately my sis-in-law’s father is a veterinarian but just as she reached him, panicked, on the phone, the cookies reappeared, much worse for the wear. A decade later, Cider is still going strong
- Chandler, another chocolate Lab, once pulled an entire stew pot of simmering chili off a range cooker, and ate the whole shebang. Suffice to say, beans and dogs do not make for a pleasant or harmonious household.
- Charlie, my childhood black Lab, helped himself to an entire raw Thanksgiving turkey, which was stored in a large cooler case that he managed to nose open. The seven of us (including Charlie) were on our way to our family’s cabin in the northern woods of Michigan, where I grew up, when we stopped at a burger joint to feed the people. By the time we returned to our expertly packed van, Charlie had given back Thanksgiving dinner. We still had two more hours to get to the cabin. I think we might have had cereal for Thanksgiving that year.
- Ralph, the beagle with nine lives, didn’t so much have trouble with the things he ate, but rather the things he didn’t. Escaping with his lead still attached, we found him a few days later tangled in the stubble of a field of maize that had been harvested. It was a warm Indian Summer, and he’d survived with no food or water; it was good practice for another escape in which he encountered a porcupine at close range, and ended up with a mouth full of the fish-hook shaped barbs. It took us three weeks of searching (again, the northern Michigan forests) but we found him, thin and weak. He lived to chase a lifetime worth of rabbits, none of which he ever caught.
- Sam, a cousin’s yellow Lab that looked more like a yellow taxi in stature, is the worst offender I’ve encountered yet. In addition to the usual fare – underwear, a girdle (that was removed whole from his stomach with so few teeth marks the veterinarian was astounded), football tickets, a stack of cheques and cash collected for a charity project – his ultimate triumph involved pulling a refrigerator door open by a tea towel attached to the handle, and helping himself to an entire ham and a pound of butter. Perhaps he should have been called Elvis instead.
These days, I come downstairs each morning expecting to find some item of clothing or mislaid toy presented near the door, in a format that can’t be recovered. But while our Lab is now too old to leap for a precariously balanced plate, he’s not shy about snarfing the odd sandwich from an unsuspecting picnicker.
Still, you’ve gotta love the effort. I’m not convinced any other breed can outdo the craftiness of the Labrador, but I look forward to you proving me wrong. It will give me something to smile about the next time I’m cleaning up a partly-digested sock.