Like Water for Chocolate…for Dogs.

IMG_5426Our black Lab-ish pup is at it again.  We have long since learned the veracity of the generally-held notion about black labs’ food motivation.  We go through periods of days or weeks during which we fall victim to serious doubts as to whether Wailea is a black Lab at all.  Her snout is too pointy.  Like a border collie’s.  She is too lean, like a greyhound.  She has Captain Kangaroo mutton chops, like a German shepherd. 

Screenshot 2014-12-09 08.19.06She jumps high into the air to fetch a high-bouncing ball, like a Kelpie Muster.  When I time my blue plastic Chucker throw just right, the orange orb compresses on the short grass and bounces maybe 20 feet into the air, with Wailea in pursuit at a full sprint.  Using her momentum she springs up and strikes a pose as if she were “posterizing” her opponent (if dogs approached a game of fetch in that manner), finishing with a flourish.  Some totally unnecessary hip-whipping for good measure.  There are no technical fouls called on the Marina Green for “unsportsmanlike fetching.”

Screenshot 2014-12-09 08.27.43

But then it comes back to eating.  Anything.  Even when it is clearly against her own self-interest.  Take chocolate, for example.  Most dog-owners, and maybe even most people who own no dogs, know that chocolate is a no-no.  One of the most common causes of canine poisoning, apparently.  Sometimes treated with a week-long course of fluids and anti-seizure medication, I’ve read.  So of all the things our Wailea has eaten to-date — cash money (USD), playing cards (Queens, Kings, it doesn’t seem to matter), several leather boots (but always only one of a set), red pepper flakes (preferably in leftover pasta) — the dreaded Theobroma cacao seed strikes fear in our family’s collective heart.


Our 9-year old son is allergic to peanuts.  So good luck finding anything peanut-related in this house.  That stuff has, for the most part, been banished and wire brush-scrubbed out, Karen Silkwood-style.  But chocolate?  Shoot, we got plenty of chocolate up in this piece.  As a family, however, we are pretty good about keeping Halloween candy out of paw’s reach.  Even our kids, both of whom are shameless candy thieves, understand the dire consequence of leaving a half-eaten Milky Way mini-bar under one’s bed:  The prospect of finding our beloved rescue dog gacked out on their carpet.  Cartoonish, black X’s for eyes.  Blue tongue lolled out the side of a froth-covered mouth.  No bueno.

Which brings us to last night.  Last night, you see, as my wife Hilary got a running start into a finger-pointing rant at our boys about some purportedly stolen fudge, things started to snap into focus.  Of the tunnel-vision variety. 

“Was the fudge covered in tin foil?” I asked. 

“Yes,” was Hilary’s reply, made without eye contact for me, as she continued berating the boys, presumably cringing somewhere upstairs but still within earshot of our bedroom. 

“Was the fudge down here?” I inquired. 

“Yes, right on my bedside table,” she responded, matter-of-factly, pointing to her side of the bed.

“Oh shit,” came the stage whisper from my own mouth.

My mind flashed to the two, postage stamp-sized tin foil pieces I spied on our bedroom carpet that afternoon.  I had picked them up quickly, unthinkingly, without breaking stride.  (At the time, I was distracted by the supposition that Lea had just consumed an entire Gingerbread Clifbar, including the paper wrapper.  This turned out to be false.)  But now I realized I had stumbled upon two pieces of critical evidence.  Evidence that would fully exonerate our kids.  Evidence that suggested, very strongly, that Wailea’s eyes would soon turn to X’s.  She would be lying upside down, belly bloated, limbs stiff and straight up. 

Half-panicked now, I tried to recall when I last saw the fudge cache intact.  How big was the foil-wrapped block?  As big as a laptop?  Two laptops stacked on top of one another?  Our family ran in circles around our bedroom like heated atoms, scratching our own eyes out, moaning “Gaaaaaaaahhh!” at the prospect of losing our dog, blaming one another with ridiculously convoluted plot lines, convinced Wailea was a goner.  (In truth, I sensed a bit of relief from my kids, as this particular fudge theft could not be pinned on them.)

And yet somehow, Wailea seems fine.  Assuming what we think happened to the fudge actually did in fact happen to the fudge, she ate a ton of it.  And washed it down with a sheet of tin foil, no less, save for the two stamp-sized chunks.  She hasn’t expired.  Not gacked out.  No convulsions.  Nothing out of the ordinary. In fact, here she is sleeping in her bed at my feet while I type these very words.  See?  No X’s for eyes.


Which brings us back to the black Labrador part.  Man, they can eat just about anything.  Including chocolate, apparently.

Thanks for reading.


  1. Dogs eat cat poop and they can’t handle a little chocolate? I smell a rat. I think this is a myth perpetuated by people who really don’t want to share their chocolate with anyone or anydog.

  2. She’d rather be a chocolate lab, apparently.

    Your writing in this post was absolutely hilarious, but I’m glad I have a chow rather than a lab. She has definitely missed the “chew everything I see” tendency.

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