Saturday, April 9, 2011

Why Evolution May Be Overrated

As some of you already know, I have a three-year old Brittany Spaniel named Sandy. Under normal circumstances she is an outdoor pet but a few months ago nighttime temperatures dropped into the single digits and we decided to allow her to sleep indoors. The event was not unprecedented and per our routine she was giving unfettered access to the living room.

We closed all of the bedroom doors, hid the garbage can, and shut the pantry to remove any culinary temptation. She obediently settled onto a couch cushion while Ashley and I went to bed. The next morning when I emerged from the bedroom to take Sandy out, she was lying prostrate in the middle of the living room floor surrounded by the remnants of a half-dozen Kellogg’s Apple Cinnamon Nutri-Grain Bars.

Sandy (pre-sedition)

Peeking around the corner, I realized that we must have neglected to completely latch the pantry door and she had jimmied it open at some point during the night. It was then that I noticed my brand new box of Quaker Chocolate-Dipped Peanut Butter Oatmeal Bars was lying empty in the middle of the kitchen floor. After a short investigation, I concluded that Sandy had begun her evening meal by eating 10 Chocolate Quaker Bars (including foil wrappers) and then finishing off with the Nutri-Grain Bars.

Concerned about the possible side effects such a large intake of chocolate would have on our canine, we called the vet who advised us that based on the animal’s weight and the nature of the product ingested she was not in immediate danger. She was careful to warn us however, that our pet would likely suffer from a case of “digestive pyrotechnics” over the next twenty-four hours. We cleaned up the evidence and scoured the house to make sure that there was no other contraband.    

Just as promised, within the next twelve hours our beloved Sandy began experiencing what can only be described as “Category 5” defecation. The following day she could be observed prairie-dogging her way across the back yard every forty-five minutes or so. This, coupled with the unbearable odors emanating from every orifice of her body, made it difficult to eat meals at home. Within a few days her lower intestines had stabilized and the frigid temperatures necessitated that she spend another night in the living room.

My wife and I carefully double-checked the pantry door to insure that we did not experience a repeat of the last indoor fiasco and went to bed. About thirty minutes later, I re-emerged to get a glass of water from the kitchen and surprised Sandy who was enjoying a Nutri-Grain bar. Incensed, I ran to the pantry and confirmed that the door was latched just as I had left it. This meant that either my dog had overcome the absence of opposable thumbs or there was some sort of canine witchcraft at work.

I summoned my wife from bed and together we observed Sandy happily licking the last few crumbs of whole-grain deliciousness from the floor while wagging her recently-soiled tail. For several moments we pondered our next move and Ashley decided that we must have missed something in our initial sweep. For the next few minutes we tossed our living room like a Riker’s Island prison cell until we discovered the mother-load.

There, under the one of the armchair’s seat cushions, was the location of Sandy’s stash. Apparently cognoscente of the unprecedented opportunity the open pantry door provided, she had gorged herself until full and then hidden an insurance policy in the chair. Much to Sandy’s chagrin, Ashley and I carefully removed her goodies from the chair’s various crevices and placed them back into the pantry.

The next night Ashley was sitting in the “stash” chair most of the night and Sandy seemed unusually interested in unseating her. After several episodes of indiscriminate barking failed to capture my wife’s attention, Sandy went to the back door and barked once to indicate she needed to go to the bathroom. Ashley reluctantly vacated the chair to open the back door and Sandy seized the opportunity to run past her and begin frantically searching the cushion for items we might have missed. Satisfied that nothing remained of her forbidden treasures, Sandy dropped her head in dejection and sat back down on the floor having never gone to the bathroom.  

Such cunning is impressive until you consider than my dog is unable to extricate herself after getting wrapped around a telephone pole. Complex indoor subversion is no problem for her but God help us if we ask her to walk back around a pole the same way she came. You can almost see the fear in her eyes as she comes to terms with the fact that she is going to die from starvation, but when I walk her back around the pole it is if hope has returned to the world. Perhaps the only thing standing between her and world domination is buried utilities….

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