Dear Goddamned Beagle,
This will be our first holiday season together, and with Thanksgiving arriving this week, it’s important I at least attempt to make my expectations clear.
There is going to be a lot of food around, in grocery bags, on counters and tables, maybe even in people’s backpacks and totes that they bring into the house. None of this is intended for you. There are a couple of reasons for this and I’ll list them in order of importance: 1) We want it; 2) You weigh 19 pounds, probably about the size of our main course, and the chances of me spending at least one holiday evening at the 24-hour emergency vet with a turkey-sized beagle with pancreatitis are looking quite high. I’d like to avoid this. 3) Not everyone thinks it’s funny when a beagle is eating the food while standing on the table and growling.
My only other small dog was Emma, and American Eskimo of roughly 32 pounds. She was a dog who’d always wait to ask permission for everything. Though she seemed to hang happily on every word every human spoke, game for the next move, adventure or nap, she had one true hero, her animal sibling Special Ed, my cat. Though she’d try valiantly to be just like him, he’d do cat things that Emma just could not do, at least without injury, and so Emma spent a fair amount of time falling off of window sills and couch backs, shaking it off to scramble back up as he looked on in cool kid aloofness. Emma never got in trouble on her own, though Special Ed would lead Emma down every path to perdition seemingly possible by doing things like emptying the dispose-all, one chicken bone at a time, taking a bite and tossing rest down to her, or opening and emptying the cabinets, sending down bags of chocolate chips, say, to the eager sucker below.
And yet the holidays even proved too much for sweet, pliable Emma, and one night after a party, I could not find her when I went to let her out before bed. Couldn’t find her anywhere.
Had this been you, Beagz, I’d have known she was out in the neighborhood somewhere following her nose and I’d have panicked, but this was Emma. Emma just didn’t wander – she’d be more likely to close the door so others didn’t. So I backtracked my steps: Guests here, dinner, dessert, laughing, clear the table, some games, more wine… guests leaving, cleaning up, taking Ed out of dishwasher before running it, putting food away… I opened the fridge door and there she was on the bottom shelf, curled on the serving board around the remaining leg of lamb I’d lazily covered in Saran wrap, half asleep and snuggled in with her meat prize, head resting against it at an angle as she settled in for the night.
So you see, Beagle, the holiday temptations can do it to the best of us. I can only imagine what they might do to you. We’re going to have to work on this.
Company is another part of the holidays we need to discuss. While we’re used to plenty of people coming in and out, most of them don’t spend much time actually hanging around with us, and especially hanging around with us around lots of food. I suspect this may prove to be a challenge because, as we know, when you’re over-done, over-wrought or in the presence of food of any kind, especially potatoes, well…
We have a visitor arriving today, an Italian fellow, and while Italian is indeed the language of love, it would be great if he didn’t spend his first visit to Boston being humped every time he tries to move. I’ll be taking him to a dinner party Monday night as my living hostess gift (the others will bring a houseplant, perhaps, or a bottle of wine, though we’ll bring wine too, of course, but an Italian really says “Grazie for your hospitality!” in a way like nothing else), and we don’t want him too jumpy.
Nevertheless, I gave you a bath last night because after a week at the beach and a play date at Vic and Louanne’s yesterday rolling in the field and digging under a bush for ten minutes going after some varmint, you weren’t your cleanest. I know it’s not your favorite part of our life together, but with a Thing offering you kibble, and some peanut butter smeared on the sink you seemed to get through it OK. I picked a floral shampoo for you this time, Beagz. I figure if you’re going to ravish the guy for a week, the least you can do is smell like roses.
Meanwhile, I’ll try to convince him it’s just part of the American tradition. If people will buy mini-marshmallows on mashed sweet potatoes as normal, I should be able to make this work.