December 30, 2012

The day my dog ate a mixing bowl

Happy (almost) New Year, opera buddies!

I considered taking the week off from my weekly postings on this space, but I find I'm consumed with the paranoid feeling that if I ever skip a week, no one will ever come back and keep reading. Yes, I need one of those pop psychology books about self-esteem, I'll grant you that...

So here's my compromise: instead of blogging about matters operatic, I shall relate an anecdote having nothing to do with denizens of the opera zoo, or even music for that matter.

Agatha: canine cookie monster
Gather around, children, and your kindly Uncle Blogger will tell you about the time my dog ate a mixing bowl. And yes: you heard me right - the actual bowl, in addition to the stuff in said bowl.

The dog in question was the late great Agatha Winters, my little reddish-gold Sheltie mix who was our household pet for a good fifteen-plus years until she succumbed to old age in 1998. She was a friendly little thing, smart and humanized in the way of house-dogs that live indoors around people. She was pretty musical, actually; my wife, a vocal coach and accompanist, had a lot of singers coming to our house for rehearsals or coachings in those days. Agatha was not above joining in on a rendition of Musetta's Waltz with a visiting soprano, though her voice was beset with a host of technical shortcomings. Inadequate training in her youth, no doubt.

Her one quirk was an intense fear of heights - simply hopping off a bed produced dramatic trembling and hesitation before committing to the leap. A vet pointed out that she was cross-eyed, leaving her with no depth perception. When jumping off any raised surface she couldn't tell how far down the floor was, poor puppy.

But on to the anecdote. There came a day when Agatha was maybe four or five years old that my wife (That's Mrs. Humble Blogger to you) and I had a yen for home-made oatmeal cookies. There were only the two of us in those days, so the small-sized pyrex mixing bowl was sufficient to hold the sticky cookie dough.

As the oven pre-heated, we decided to splurge on some butterscotch chips and went on a quick reconnaisance mission to the supermarket, just a mile and a half down the road. We left the bowl of cookie dough on the kitchen table. Agatha was in her basket by the refrigerator, having supervised the process of mixing the ingredients with an interested eye.

We were gone - what? - twelve minutes, tops. Upon our return, we beheld the following tableau:
  • The mixing bowl was now on the floor.
  • There was no dough anywhere; just a greasy sheen on the floor where it had fallen.
  • The remnants of the bowl consisted of two large-ish glass shards, enough to account for no more than two-thirds of the entire bowl.
  • Agatha lay prone in her basket. Her eyes were glassy, staring straight ahead in dazed misery. Her mouth was open, tongue hanging out. Her belly was distended as if she was about to give birth to a small pony.
Agatha's total affect said, clearly and eloquently, "I am a very bad dog. I don't know why I did that. Please have mercy on me and shoot me in the head. I. d.o.n.'t. f.e.e.l. g.o.o.d."

It did not require Sherlock Holmes-level deduction to grasp the reality that our naughty dog had somehow knocked the bowl onto the floor, where it had smashed into two large pieces, plus some smaller shatterings mixed in the the cookie dough.

Gilda the Wonder-Beagle
In her crazed cookie-lust and greed, she had gobbled everything down, glass fragments and dough alike.

Naturally, fearing the worst, I called the vet, who was remarkably sanguine about Agatha's plight. In a tone suggesting I was the eighth person reporting this same problem that day, he said, "Don't bother bringing her in here. One of two things will happen. Either the glass will shred her internal organs before you could possibly get here, OR..."

"Yes?" I thought breathlessly.

"Or", he continued, "the cookie dough will coat the pieces of glass and she'll just pass them out harmlessly."

The darn dog lived another ten years.

I swear to you that every detail of this story actually happened exactly as I've described: no "lily-gilding", no elaboration, no hyperbole. Word. The dog ate glass.

Come to think of it, the drama of that memorable afternoon was kind of operatic!

Happy New Year from your Humble Blogger and his current dog, Gilda the Wonder-Beagle. We'll be back next week with opera stuff as per usual. Well, I will be; Gilda doesn't care for opera. She'll be napping.

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