In 1972, young and newly married, I adopted a mongrel beagle puppy from the local animal shelter. The caramel-colored pup, no bigger than my hand, licked my fingers and melted my heart. I paid my eight dollars and took my “baby” home.
Bubbles, named for her exuberance, was adorable but mischievous. She needed just an hour while I was out shopping to chew through an aluminum faucet handle in the bathtub and then peel the linoleum from the bathroom floor as if it were a Post-it note. When she devoured two twenty-dollar bills one evening, except for half a serial number and one of Jackson’s bushy eyebrows, I had to write to the U.S. Treasury and swear that the bills were eaten by my dog. Several weeks later, I received a check for forty dollars from the government, luckily without an admonition to guard my money more carefully.
The dog’s chewing fixation continued throughout her first year of life. Her sweet tooth was as bad as mine, and a sack of rock candy proved no challenge for jaws. She not only gobbled all the candy but also the strings that connected the irregular-shaped confections. After her snack, I was surprised she had any teeth left.
Bubbles was an indiscriminate chewer. One day, she gnawed the top off a specimen bottle that contained my husband’s prize gallstone. I found the stone, once the size of a small plum, crunched into tiny pieces, lying next to the tooth-marked bottle. Obviously, gallstones weren’t as tasty as the candy.
As Bubbles got older, she grew even more daring. One evening, I prepared to host a jewelry party—an opportunity for me to dazzle my friends and relatives with my homemaking skills. The house gleamed, the crystal and china sparkled on the table, and my culinary creation—an iced chocolate cake—sat on the counter next to the coffee maker. I scanned the rooms and then, satisfied that everything was in order, went to change clothes.
When I returned ten minutes later, I spied Bubbles with her hind legs on the backrest of a chair, front paws on the counter, balanced like a circus performer. He head was bent over my dessert, and her little pink tongue darted in and out faster than a hummingbird’s wings as she licked frosting from the cake.
“Bubbles! Get down from there!” I yelled.
The dog scrambled off the chair and ducked under the table. She curled up a lip and seemed to smile at me.
“What have you done?” I growled at the dog. Knowing the type of damage jaws could wreak, I groaned and braved a look at the cake. Not one bite was missing, but the sweet topping was gone!
I glanced at the clock. My guests would be arriving soon. What would I serve? Nearly in tears and desperate to make a good impression as a hostess, I snatched a wad of paper towels and blotted the top of the cake. I grabbed another can of frosting (yes, a can of ready-made) and slathered it on just before the first guests arrived. When the ladies complimented me on my baking, I just smiled.
Thirty years and four dogs later, I still love my dogs, despite their shenanigans. I am temporarily between dogs now, so it’s safe to come over for cake.