In my house books are sacred. Even mass-market paperbacks. ALL books. No exceptions. (Well, there was that errant copy of Valley Of The Dolls, but I digress.) In any place I have ever lived, hung my hat, squatted, moved in on, or just plain been, the protection of printed matter is a foregone conclusion. All my previous dogs have been most respectful. Socks, shoes, underwear, pillows ---- all fair game. Books --- absolutely, positively not. You get the point. This puppy does not get it. Not at all. Far from it. Today she commits the unthinkable. She begins to snack her way up the library shelves.
I am not a cook. It bores me silly. All that shopping, prep work, cleaning up. Not for me, although I have in my time made the prerequisite holiday goodies, sauces from scratch, soufflés. Throughout the years I have amassed, inherited, been gifted with an inordinate number of cookbooks, most remaining virginally pristine, ready for resale when the spirit moves me. Such books are arranged on bottom shelves in no intelligent order since they are never used, yet in the way of the world they live somehow among their own kind. Thus we find Julia Child and James Beard sandwiching a McCall’s Christmas cookie booklet from the fifties, all piled atop Larousse Gastronomique (gorgeous photos) and right up front, ‘cause it’s a little mass market number from the seventies, is “Diet For a Small Planet.” The paper has reached that wood-pulp crispy yellow stage as books from that era are wont to do, and the title alone intrigues the puppy as an organic snack. She browses her way through to the section concerning “Combining Non-meat Foods to Increase Protein Values.” It’s a small section. She gulps it down as I enter the library. Telltale bits of printed confetti surround her. Guilty eyes meet mine.
I ---- (Expletive deleted. Another expletive deleted. Several more.) No, no, noooooooo. Not a book. You never, never, never, never eat a book. You little piece of crap. No, no, noooooo.
She ---- That language is abusive. I could sue you. There’s a book here somewhere that tells about it.
I --- You’re lucky you’re still alive, Miss Smart-Ass. What have I always told you are The Main Rules?
She --- Never snack on books or art or whatever you think is art. But this was such a little book, way down on the bottom, so I didn’t think you’d mind. I didn’t eat the cover. Tasted icky. See? Here it is.
I --- Get out of here right now before I do something we’ll both regret. Get, get, get out!
I shoo the puppy outside before I can strangle her. The paperback itself is no huge loss, but oh, the possibilities. I shudder. But like any good parent, within a short time my anger dissipates and I go outside to check on the darling.
The puppy is lying on the lawn, on her back, all four feet in the air. She is staring up at the sky and her expression is even goofier than usual. I recall the toad incident. She has a slight white foam on her lips.
“Did you kiss another toad?” I bend over her, noting that her eyes are glassy and she seems more than mellow. Way beyond mellow. She is truly stoned.
“Naw. That relationship was nowhere. Oh, man. Did you ever notice how the clouds have shapes? That one looks like a bone. Cool, huh?” She has become a cast-member of “Hair.” I half expect to see love-beads around her collar. What new form of hell is this? Have drug-dealing pit bulls infiltrated the gate and violated my baby, trading acid tabs for Milkbones?
“Hey, man, check out the colors, cool.” Definitely stoned, with the accompanying vocabulary. I wonder if random electrical impulses left over from the seventies seek out and penetrate the brains of the newly-high, imprinting them with Hari Krishna and “Let the Sun Shine In.” A snooping sit-com mom, I check around for the puppy’s stash. She lacks underwear drawers, so I check the rocks between the lawn and the trees.
Mushrooms. Lots and lots of mushrooms. Quite a number and quite a variety. Some laid waste with great bites missing, others seem to have been munched by tiny, non-puppy teeth. Does that validate the mushrooms’ safety, or am I encountering mass suicidal attempts by forest creatures as a protest against global warming, the destruction of their habitat? Having witnessed the erratic behavior of squirrels and their kind on numerous occasions, I decide that what we have here is a simple case of rodent high times and doggie gluttony.
With the nose of a French truffle pig, the puppy has sniffed out a gastronomic delicacy and a psychedelic delight as well, most effectively combining her non-meat sources. A little knowledge can be a dangerous thing. Diet For a Small Planet indeed!
From the corner of the lawn I hear, “Oh, man. It’s the ‘shrooms, man. Check out those colors.”
I admit. That cloud does look like a bone.
Causes Mara Buck Supports
Kennebec Valley Humane Society, Amnesty International