Kids who still believe in Santa Claus have the best Christmas experience. That seems an appropriate reward for toddlers who think that a bearded old man who likes to hang out alone at shopping malls is cool. Then throw in that he knows when you are sleeping, knows when you’re awake, and then enters your house in the middle of the night by way of your chimney. Any child these days who can suspend that kind of reality deserves a great Christmas. And any man who actually attempted such a thing would be delivering presents at Leavenworth and sharing footlong sandwiches with Jared.
In our home, however, the family member who is having the best Christmas so far is our dog, Bernie. We love Bernie so much I’m almost inclined to get one of those political bumper stickers with her name on it. The man Bernie is from Vermont. The lady Bernie is from Land of Paws in Leawood, but they have one thing in common. They both seek your affection.
To be sure, the return of the out-of-town children is a tail-wagging bonanza. But the true prize for her is the dramatic change in her diet. She goes from staring at huge bags of dried pellets of Old Roy to chomping on succulent leftovers that are the product of a wonderful chef with many years of training feeding the brood. Some tidbits are deliberately shared; other servings are the ‘help yourself’ variety.
But for Bernie, this Christmas is already reaching epic proportions.
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That’s because two weeks ago Bernie’s penchant to eat most everything — correction — drop the qualifier “most” — reached next level. Bernie ate something that shocked even us.
Bernie ate an entire stick of butter. And the wax wrapping for good measure.
Lori was the sole witness. “I was making chocolate chip cookies and the butter dropped to the floor. I got distracted when the UPS man rang the doorbell. When I returned, it was gone. So was Bernie. My first reaction was ‘no way Bernie ate the butter.’ But when I tracked her down to a secure location the evidence was clear — she looked like she robbed a bank. Her nose had a shiny veneer. She was licking her lips and appeared extremely content. I raised my voice — ‘Bernie did you eat the butter?’ She looked away. Guilty as charged.”
So, for those keeping track at home, one stick of Land O’Lakes butter is 810 calories, 92 grams of fat and 240 milligrams of cholesterol. All of which was consumed by a 42-pound soft-coated Wheaten terrier who is approaching her 14th birthday. That’s the human equivalent of 84. And it shows. She is hard of hearing, vision-impaired and yet functioning rather well. But if she drove a car it would be like Mr. McGoo.
But wait. There’s more. You see, in addition to these issues, Bernie has had double knee repairs courtesy of the Mission Med Vet. Her primary exercise is yawning and sleeping for hours at a time.
I mean — think about it — imagine if your 84-year-old Aunt Wilma ate a stick of butter in two seconds? What would you do? Dial 911? Call John Knox Village for a spare room? Hide the Miralax?
And like most 84-year-olds, Bernie’s lower GI tract is, well, quite audible and is single-handedly adding enough methane gas that it has melted two ice caps.
So when Lori called me with the news, I did what most people would do. I Googled “what to do if your dog eats a stick of butter.” There were 7.1 million hits. Curious, I Googled “what to do if your 84-year-old aunt ate a stick of butter.” Crickets.
Among the contributions:
▪ “At best, it may cause mild gastrointestinal upset, such as diarrhea, or vomiting. But a fatty meal such as that can actually cause pancreatitis. This is inflammation of the organ that produces some of the digestive enzymes.”
▪ “Abdominal pain, weakness, lethargy.”
Though it wasn’t directly relevant, I did find this tidbit:
▪ ”My dog ate an entire month of birth-control pills once. Didn’t turn him into a female, though.”
So Lori shooed Bernie out the door. The invisible fence went in overdrive. We monitored her every movement, which was easy since she laid down for hours while we waited for the, well, you know. No dramatic change in anything. Bernie slept a lot, but there was no gastric volcanic disturbance. None. Just lots of tail wagging. And in no time she was back in business, which meant returning to our bedroom for napping sessions.
Here’s hoping your Christmas rivals Bernie’s.
Matthew Keenan writes the first and third Wednesday of the month. Reach him at mattkeenan51 @gmail.com.