Sunday, October 9, 2011

Give the Dog a Bone

Jake hunkered down. This invasion had him on edge. In addition to the gentle elderly couple he adored, there were two youngish couples, a teen and a couple of children. His eyes followed them all warily from his kitchen corner.

And the activity! Where was the quiet routine he normally enjoyed? Particularly today, mother was bustling around the kitchen as if possessed, helped occasionally by the other females. If there was any virtue in all this, it was the delightful aromas resulting from their efforts.

Jake rose and slowly padded around the other rooms. The men and children were chatting and playing in the living room, while the teen had a strange crown around her ears and quietly nodded in a corner. The dining room table had grown, and, putting his front paws on a chair, he saw a brightly decorated surface with too many place settings.

He returned to the sanctuary of his basket in the kitchen. Mother pulled the turkey from the oven and placed it on the kitchen table. ”Dad wants us all in the living room,” she said to the other women. “A short prayer of thanks together before we eat.” The three women disappeared.

Jake looked at the table. A plastic chequered cloth hung around the table edge with alternate squares sporting pictures of succulent pieces of turkey. Jake equated the smell with those inviting pictures, sauntered over and took a bite.

The next few moments were action packed, if hazy. The plastic cloth hooked itself around his canine teeth, and he pulled back sharply, trying to dislodge this foul tasting morsel by shaking his head furiously. He was conscious of a heavy object falling on his head, together with a shower of assorted vegetables liberally sprinkled with hot gravy falling around him.

The commotion brought the family running. They stood briefly in disbelief. Dad looked at Jake. A quiver of guilt shook Jake. Within seconds, a rolled up newspaper descended forcefully on his tender snout, and he found himself on the porch.

He barked at the door; no response. He whimpered—usually effective; not this time. He lay down for a while, guilt ridden, not sure why, his paws over his nose. Being shut out was worse than the family invasion. He licked the gravy off where he could reach.

He heard voices from an open window, padded over, and put his paws on the sill. They were all seated around the dining table, its centre piece a leftover joint, some burger buns, and a huge salad—mercifully stored in the ’frig.

The teen was holding forth, the children watching dolefully. “Couldn’t possibly eat that stuff now. Besides, it’s probably got rabies or something!”

“That beast deserves a whipping,” adjudicated a younger man.

“Damn right,” agreed the other.

Jake sunk to the deck, uncertain guilt washing over him again.

 “Now, now boys,” Mother sighed. “We still have more than enough to be thankful for and I doubt Jake knows what he’s done wrong. Probably won’t try it again.”

Dad nodded, Jake agreed. The window above him opened wider, and a bone dropped in front of him. He lurched forward and grabbed it between his teeth.

Suddenly, Jake was content; guilt suddenly replaced with thankfulness. A bone, forgiveness, a home, family . . . .