The Most Wonderful Day of the Year

Dear Goddamned Beagle,

Last year, our first Thanksgiving together, I remember gazing with pride at the results of my professional expertise and environmental set-up for success. There you were on your dog bed, calm and content, happily working on your stuffed, frozen Kong.

There was the table, chairs pushed in forming a protective fence. They surrounded the white cloth draped beneath a colorful array of broccoli, butternut squash, salad with yellow peppers and red onion, crusty French bread, cranberry sauce, chestnuts with peas, and a blue and white gravy boat, gold rim gleaming in the flickering candles. In the center of the table sat the turkey, golden brown, stuffing piled around it, carving knife and fork resting on the edge of the platter waiting for the first serving to begin. I smiled at the homey scene as I opened a bottle of Shiraz, a favorite from a small vineyard in Italy.

Then I saw the turkey move. It would have been easy to think it was a trick of the eye, but the stop and start motion as the table cloth bunched up under it and the vegetables and gravy spilled out of their containers belied that fleeting thought.

As I ran into the dining room you looked at me. Your twenty pound weight yanked and tugged at the twenty pound turkey, whose heft kept it on the platter along with much, but not all, of the stuffing. The carving set clattered to the table. With side-eyed stare locked on me, you tugged in short, sharp jerks, rear end up, head down, jaws clamped on the crossed ends of the drumsticks.  The table cloth continued to gather, and the wedding china plate at the head of the table dropped to the chair below.

I lifted you up, and you twisted, a Great White Beagle thrashing in a one-predator feeding frenzy. The turkey started to lift, stuffing spilling out beside the platter, wine glasses falling onto plates and side dishes.

Little known fact: bully sticks will function as a break stick if the target dog is missing enough teeth. Especially if you tear a hunk of entree off a platter, bring it slowly across that dog’s field of vision, bump her on the nose with it, and hurl the meat to the floor.

This year’s preparations have been different only in the levels of security given to ingredients. Sure, I made a small mistake by stashing the Saltines on a lower pantry shelf to make room for baking supplies, but you trotting past me carrying an unopened sleeve of crackers clued me in, and a quick negotiation resulted in a trade for a few pieces of kibble.

Thing 2 arrived home last night, and today we had an impromptu brunch. An Auxiliary Thing stopped by, as did Thing 1 and his new She Thing friend. They held a pancake cook-off, and we made Mimosas, which may have accounted for the lapse in judgement when, after an early pie to welcome in the holiday spirit, we all got up at once to clear the table.

It wasn’t more than about 45 seconds, but it was enough for you to see your chance and take it. The ringing of your collar gave you away. Though you wear that collar 24/7, your tags only make that one particular sound when they’re being jangled by the gulping, gorging, wide-throated, ingurgitating motions of a dog hell-bent on polishing off every scrap and crumb of whatever it is she’s stolen.

Your side-to-side ocean thrash seemed half-hearted as Thing 2 lifted you off the table and the pie. It’s possible you were literally too full to twist. By the time your feet touched the floor you seemed subdued. Unsure of how to proceed, you gave yourself time to gather your thoughts by humping my leg. As one does.

Tomorrow is the big day, meal-wise. There will be turkey and fixings, wine and distractions. I will ready many frozen Kongs, a blanket, your self-heating bed. I will also ready an ex pen to surround that bed.

I am not fool enough to think any of that will stop you.

Happy Thanksgiving, Beagle.


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