Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The brown box

The brown cardboard box sits on the scratched, worn wood of the kitchen floor. Two black noses poke at the smooth clean sides, skim across the top where our address is hastily scrawled in black pen, investigate the clear tape holding it all together. In the top left corner the words The Kong Company are neatly stamped in faded black ink along with the return address of Golden Colorado.

The box fit neatly into the space of the large parcel compartment of our group mailboxes around the corner and down the road from our house. I found the key in the snow at my feet, the bright red plastic label it was attached to glaring up at me where it fell from the armload of papers and envelopes hauled out of our own compartment.

“Did you order something?” I asked Morgan, handing him the box as I returned to the car.


At home we are greeted by wagging tails and stomping feet and then we are forgotten as the box is placed on the floor.

“Is that for you Bear?” I ask as she manically sniffs her way around the box. Murdoch works from the other side, creating a circle of dog, outside of which Chestnut tiptoes and sniffs the air and looks for a way in without getting trampled. Cleo watches from her box by the stairs.

Morgan reaches in, slices the tape with a knife. Three noses push aside box flaps and poke around crumpled papers holding in place boxes of treats, coupons and catalogues, a shiny new classic Kong rubber toy and a can of spray peanut butter.

We elbow in to the fray, pull everything out of the box, set it on the kitchen table, the table where Morgan sat just a few days after Christmas and announced, “Bear and I are going to write a letter to the Kong Company.”

“Okay,” I said, glancing up at the shiny red ball on top of the fridge, and then down to where Bear lay sound asleep on her bed.

The letter, I knew, would be about that ball, the squeaky one we gave Bear for Christmas that became unglued and fell apart within the hour and the squeaky green bone we got as a replacement that also fell apart after only a few good squeaks.

And so, the box.

Bear and Murdoch crowd the table. Big brown eyes implore us to open the treats, or at least put everything back on the floor because obviously these are dog things, not people things. Bear cranes her neck and stretches her chin carefully over the edge of the table, reaches forward and gently clasps the cardboard backing of the new cone-shaped Kong between her teeth and pulls it off the table. “Clearly,” she says, “this is for me.”

She’s right of course, this time. The Kong is for seniors, all swirly purple and white. It is exactly like the one she already has, except she stole that one. It was a present for Max four Christmases ago. The dogs’ gifts were all wrapped and placed under the tree the day before Christmas and about 20 minutes later, as Morgan and I stood in the kitchen contemplating dinner Bear marched purposefully down the stairs from the living room carrying the unwrapped Kong in her mouth and headed straight for her bed.

“That’s not for you,” we told her and we took it away, rewrapped it and placed it in its spot under the tree. An hour later Bear had unwrapped it again and carted it back to her bed.

On Christmas morning when the dogs officially opened their gifts, Max was not at all impressed by the Kong toy. Nothing ever seemed to compare to the old football he brought with him when he came to live with us, the one Bear eventually ripped to shreds.

So, Bear got her wish that Christmas. The Kong went to her and Max got her rope toy, with which he was also less than enthused.

But now Bear drops the new Kong on the floor, stomps her foot when I look at her, as if demanding the cardboard be removed, which it is, and then two black noses probe the edge of the table and drool puddles on the floor. We spray peanut butter in to Bear’s new Kong and then Murdoch’s Extreme Kong, and hand them over. Toenails clip-clip busily on the wood floor as they scurry away to their beds and settle in with complete and singular focus. They are no longer interested in the brown box that sits forgotten on the kitchen floor, flaps thrown open. It is empty now, except for a cat.


  1. I loved this and the previous post, Heather, and the photos make it all so immediate! Life in your household is never dull!

    1. Thanks doglover! Sometimes pictures really do say it all, and then some. And, you're right, it is rarely dull around here with so many huge personalities under one roof.