Our youngest dog, Lucy, is quite the scamp. We got her as a tiny infant who fit in the palm of my hand. A pedigreed Miniature Pinscher from a breeder in Seaside, next month she will be 2 years old and grown to full size. She is 11 pounds of energy; willful, entertaining, very loving, and a good companion. She is also always hungry — and very clever.
She learns a lot from observing. One day when she was six months old, I noticed her paying close attention to my use of the kitchen step stool. Being of limited stature myself, I was using it to reach something on a high cabinet shelf. Lucy kept a close eye on the proceedings and also noticed my failure to put the stool away. A few minutes later she used the stool to launch herself on the kitchen counter to snag a stick of butter softening for a pie.
Last summer when we were renting a place in Gearhart, I got in the habit of walking her along the wide boulevard streets. After strolling past the grand palaces on Ocean Avenue, we’d walk along Cottage where I couldn’t resist picking a berry or two from the large patch of blackberry bushes between 1st and 2nd Streets. Lucy, always keen about anything I put in my mouth, looked expectant. I started giving her a berry just to see if she would eat it. Pretty soon she learned to pick blackberries herself.
This summer in the front yard of the house we bought, we have fruit bearing blueberry bushes, as well as apple trees. Lucy observed us picking blueberries and soon figured out she liked to pick and eat blueberries, too. When the first of the apples began falling from the trees, she sampled bites.
Last week my son’s girlfriend drove out from Portland for a visit. In her honor, I baked a pie using apples from our trees. When the pie was done, I put it to cool on a counter I thought was safe. The girlfriend arrived hungry so we went out to lunch. I thought we’d have a slice of pie at home afterwards.
When we walked in the door an hour later, I wondered why the 13 year old Lhasa Apso, Basil, was so hepped up. He was wagging his tail and very forward. Normally when I come in after being out awhile, he doesn’t bother to get up.
“I’ll just put some coffee on,” I said to my son’s girlfriend. As I was crossing the kitchen to fetch dessert plates, she said, “Oh my. Will you look at that.”
The apple pie I’d so lovingly made with my own hands was a shambles. Someone had gouged the center out.
“Lucy,” I said sternly. I knew it was her handiwork. She’s the only one of my three dogs (the Chihuahua is 17) capable of the athletic feat of leaping from a chair on to the window seat and then to the counter where the pie innocently sat. She had eaten most of the middle of the pie, which contained six small apples, 1/2 cup of brown sugar, 1/4 stick of butter, and some graham cracker crumble. The Pillsbury pie crust I’d dusted with cinnamon was of no interest to her.
“Lucy,” I said again. She didn’t even have the decency to look ashamed. Instead she shot me an impish look, her expression saying, “I left you some. Put a scoop of ice cream on it and you’ll be fine.”
Which is more or less what happened. After my son’s girlfriend left, and I gave my husband his dinner, we both had what was left of the pie with some Haagen Dasz Vanilla Bean on it. It was fine. Really.