Monday, August 8, 2011

My nose doesn't lie

The clattering sounds of breakfast fill the house. Dishes clank and shuffle across the linoleum floor, kibble crunches between teeth, tongues lap noisily around bowls already licked clean, searching out every last crumb.

Murdoch is a power-eater. He hoovers up the food in his dish as if challenging some kind of time record, then scoops up his food ball in giant jaws and disappears with it into his kennel. Bear trolls the area, padding quietly, looking for any dropped morsels. She swipes her tongue around Murdoch’s empty bowl in case he left something behind.

Satisfied for the moment, Bear settles onto her bed with a grumble and watches as Murdoch bangs about in his kennel, extricating the rest of his breakfast from the bright orange ball. Kibble rattles and tumbles about inside as he rolls it around with his paw.

It is supposed to keep him busy for a while, solving this puzzle. But it isn’t really a challenge any more. He has become so adept with the ball, one turn to the right, two back, another to the left, and food pops out of the hole, is instantly inhaled. I’m sure he doesn’t even taste it.

Morning sunlight filters through the trees and seeps gently into the kitchen as the feeding frenzy in the entryway ends. It is quiet but for the ticking of the clock and I pour steaming tea into my cup.

A few minutes pass before I hear a rustle and then click, click of claws and Bear appears at the bottom of the stairs, fixing her gaze on me, something very important on her mind.

“What is it Bear?” I ask. “Do you need to go out?”

She backs up eagerly as I descend the stairs but instead of turning towards the door to go outside, she marches over to Murdoch’s kennel and looks back over her shoulder at me.

“What is it?” I ask again, though I already know. “Show me."
She stomps her foot on the floor beside the kennel and turns her head abruptly to look at me again, her ears swishing about her face.

“Bear, I don’t see anything.” She steps forward and stomps her foot again, more forcefully this time, more insistent as if to say, “Right here! Can't you smell it?”

Murdoch emerges with great urgency from his kennel and appears behind Bear, scanning the floor. He knows Bear is almost always right, so there must be something.

I crouch down and peer along the edge of the kennel. There is nothing there, but I know pieces of kibble have somehow slipped beneath the blankets, wiggled under the metal tray to become lost between the thin metal bars that make up the very base of the kennel.

I sigh and look at Bear. Her brown eyes stare deliberately into mine, her brow wrinkles, she stands with her shoulders square and her tail wags faster.

“Really Bear?” I ask. She stomps her front feet again: one, two. I know Bear will not rest until the food is retrieved.

With the dogs poised on either side of me each ready to be the first to rush in and scoop up anything they find, I lift up the back end of the kennel and slide it forward along the floor. Bear and Murdoch descend like vultures, plucking up the few lost pieces of kibble, then snuffle around in a race to find more. But that’s it, it’s over before it’s barely begun and I shove the kennel back into place as the dogs walk backwards, noses stuck to the leading edge, sure there must be more than that.

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