My dogs are always on a food hunt. They get plenty of dog food, but that doesn't seem to stop them.
Len, of course, is the worst. He truly believes that anything like a bag or a box must have something edible in it. He has torn up more plastic bags and empty boxes than I can remember.
But this past week he topped himself. Normally when I get home from the grocery store, I make sure to put everything in cupboards, and those cupboards have to be high enough that he can't get into them.
But this day I made a mistake. I bought a box of salt. A common, round, blue box of salt, like almost everyone has in their home. I left it on the stove, because I figured that even Lenny would leave salt alone.
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Wrong. I was in the shower when I started hearing the funny noise. I yelled, because I wasn't sure what it was, and I figured it was either dogs doing something wrong or dogs fighting over something.
But the noise kept on going. I saw Peg and Jan stick their long noses in the bathroom, trying to tell me they were being good, all the cats were taken care of and they were just lounging around waiting to go to bed.
So I figured it must be Len. When I finished my shower, I went looking for him. I could hear him, snorting and snuffling like he had something up his nose. I thought maybe he had gotten something bad and was choking, so I hurried to where he was.
Where he was was in the middle of the kitchen floor, surrounded by salt, and snorting and blowing ucky stuff out of his nose and mouth, but still trying to get something edible out of that round blue box.
I couldn't believe it. I didn't even yell at him. I just stood there and looked at him, convinced that he had finally lost his mind, trying to eat a box of salt.
So I picked up the box and threw it away, and then swept up all the loose salt. That salt was everywhere, believe me. I still couldn't get mad, I thought it was kind of a sweet justice that Len had gotten salt instead of something good. Maybe he learned something.
After poor Lenny's run-in with salt, the next night Peg went into the food-must-be-somewhere mode. She found a tiny cardboard box that had held a gift card I had received for Christmas. Obviously too small for food, but not to a tiny little brain like Peg's.
Peg found the box, grabbed it and ran for my room. She slammed into the dark back corner of her crate, convinced that she had something really, really good.
I just shook my head, and told her that she was as crazy as Len. Peg proceeded to tear that little cardboard box apart, convinced that somewhere, deep inside, there must be something she could eat.
Then it was Jan's turn. Now Jan is a little smarter than the other two dogs. She only goes for things that actually smell like food. That might be a container that had food in it, or a bag that held cookies.
This time she found a bag that had cradled a piece of chicken. I ate the chicken, threw away the bones and the bag, and Jan found the bag. She trotted into my room with it, her head held high, proud as could be.
I told her to drop it, it was trash, and I didn't want it in my room.
Instead, she jumped up on the bed with it, snuggled down on her fleecy throw and started tearing it apart.
I grabbed the bag away before she got too into it. I got up, threw it away, and came back in the bedroom. Jan was lying on the bed, absolutely heartbroken. She wouldn't even look at me. I tried to pet her, but she moved her head so I missed.
Now I was the bad guy because I wouldn't let my dogs made a mess. Luckily Jan got over it quickly, she was snuggled up against me within about 20 minutes.
So now I make double, triple sure that the trash is thrown away and there is nothing anywhere that could possibly be mistaken for a food container. But knowing my dogs, that won't stop them. I'm still waiting until Lenny figures out to open the refrigerator door. I give him about a month.
Reporter Carol Reiter can be reached at (209) 385-2486 or email@example.com.