This was not good. It was really not good. In fact, it was as far from good as anything Cedric could imagine. And he could – and often did!—imagine a lot.
But nothing like this!
He looked around, wondering if anyone had noticed him there.
Here was Fluffy. But she wasn’t looking for food. Once she had lapped up all the water she wanted, she would be again seeking solitude, secluding herself as much as possible from loud noises and the general bustle of the household.
After she finished drinking, Fluffy didn’t even so much as look up, much less say her usual-but-cranky “Good morning, Cedric!”
He never thought he would have missed this sour greeting. Yet, somehow, he did. Even “Good morning!” from a grouch made the morning seem automatically better. He’d have to remember that the next time he found himself debating whether or not to greet someone. Such simple words. But such a change after they were vocalized. Oh, the power of words! However, words were not enough to help Cedric out of his current bizarre predicament.
What Cedric needed was serious help. This morning could use more than just a little pick-me-up. Because what he had tried really just wasn’t working. Even now, he had to keep licking his lips, hoping – no, praying earnestly – that the awful taste he had put there on purpose would somehow go away. Soon!
But no!! It was there for the long haul. And that, thought Cedric, was just cruel. There was simply no other word for it. Who does these things? he wondered.
Well, he already knew the answer to that. It was the housekeepers. He thought he could depend on them. They usually looked to his comfort. And to the comforts of the other dogs. But not today. Why was that?
He wanted to ask them what they had been thinking. He was thinking seriously of doing so. Unfortunately, they had left the house in the big rolling thing. He knew they wouldn’t be back any time soon because they had a long flappy thing they had scratched on with a color-stick for several minutes, conferring together before they finally all agreed together that they were finished with the scratchings.
What if this had all been just a big mistake? Yep. A mistake that no one had meant to make in the first place, and which no one had meant for him to discover.
Well, they certainly couldn’t have meant Fluffy or Lola to discover it because those girls were just too short for the job. Even if they had been able to move some chairs over and hop on up to the dish in the sink, their colossal shortness would have kept them safely out of harm’s way.
Come to think of it, Cedric could almost envy his sister-dogs their shortness. Except that if he had been gifted with shortness, his life would have been terribly boring. No more fence jumping. No more couch bouncing. No more long walks along the half wall behind the couch. And let’s not forget the joy of standing on one’s hind legs and wrapping one of his people in a big bearhug when they weren’t expecting it! None of these things were possible for short dogs. Cedric should be thankful to be so tall. He really should!
Maybe he should continue his investigation. Here in the sink were some utensils, a couple of mixing bowls, a big something with gook on it: dark brown gook that looked a lot like what he had just tasted. Was it the same thing? Tentatively, Cedric stretched forward, extending his tongue a little until he could taste the gook.
Oh, bad mistake! Bad, bad mistake! In the history of bad mistakes, this was another doozy! Bitterness, combined with unexpected sourness and pure disappointment, again rolled irrevocably all over Cedric’s tongue. And – wouldn’t you know it! — Fluffy had drunk up most of the water in the dish, leaving him a mere quarter of an inch to try to cover up this bad taste. What was his comfortable world coming to?
As he considered this, in walked THE DADDY, who noticed a gooky pawprint on the sink. Cedric’s sad brown eyes met the inquiring blue eyes of THE DADDY, before he wrenched them away, wishing to hide his shame and despair. What to do?
“Hey, Buddy!” THE DADDY was saying. “You look like you need a little help to wash that awful taste out of your mouth! Why don’t you move aside so that I can refill your water dish?”
This was the best news Cedric had heard all day! He gladly stepped aside, before shoving his head practically underwater as he drank all he wanted. Make that almost all he wanted.
“You need some more?” THE DADDY was asking him. Cedric again stepped aside.
Although THE DADDY was usually a man of few words, Cedric was surprised and delighted to hear that their short conversation was not yet concluded. “You know, Doggie, chocolate isn’t terribly good for dogs,” he began.
Cedric could almost believe him. Yet, other taste tests had proven that not all chocolate tasted terrible. In the future, he would probably want to continue quality testing to discover the truth for himself. But, to be polite, he’d go ahead and humor the man of the house. Looking up, he waited to hear more.
He was not disappointed. “Cedric,” THE DADDY began, “I’m going to share something with you that we’ll need to keep between ourselves. Man to man, you know what I mean?”
Well, if anyone could keep a secret – even a juicy one – Cedric was your dog. A lot of times, he wouldn’t even share what he knew with Fluffy (who didn’t care) or Lola (who asked a lot of questions, but quickly gave up when no satisfying answers were forthcoming). Even under the worst circumstances, keeping another secret would be no problem whatsoever!
Cedric could feel himself nodding up at THE DADDY. “Well, Boy, here’s what happened. Now that Mom and I are wanting to eat a more healthy diet, Mom announced this morning that she had found a new chocolate recipe she wanted to try. She said it might even be as good as the chile chocolate bars she likes so much from the store.”
Chile chocolate? Cedric had always heard that THE MOMMY was a bit eccentric. But this was more extreme than anything he had ever heard of. Chile chocolate? Who could possibly eat such stuff? And shouldn’t the company that made it be losing money and closing down their operations by now?
“You know, Ceddie,” THE DADDY continued, “Those chile chocolate bars are getting a bit expensive. Maybe it was time for a change.”
Cedric had heard that change was good. But that couldn’t be universally true. His recent experience had proven that much. Lifting his eyebrows as high as they would go, he stared up uncomprehending at the kindly king of his people group.
“I know!” the man was saying. “Makes no sense to me, either. I know you’re not supposed to know what chocolate tastes like. Or what it’s supposed to taste like. But we both know that it was supposed to taste way better than this.”
You got that right! Cedric wanted to tell him.
“Here’s what happened: Mom got her recipe from a woman who lives such a healthy lifestyle that she does not depend on sugar for happiness.”
Note to self, Cedric thought, remember that sugar brings happiness. He had always suspected this, and now THE DADDY had confirmed it.
“And since we have not yet attained that level of healthiness, we are still dependent on extra sugar to make our recipes taste good. If you search the world over, you will find a lot of chocolate loaded – simply packed!—with A LOT of sugar. This chocolate that Lacey made with Mom’s new recipe just doesn’t have it. Or at least, not in the quantities that we have become used to. So, Doggie, there’s your problem right there!”
What that meant, Cedric thought, was that he would have to find out where the housekeepers stored the sugar so that he could make things right for himself. And he’d do it right away. As soon as THE DADDY went off to another room.
But this would have to wait. “I’m going to watch THE GAME, Cedric!” THE DADDY was saying. “And I’m making some buffalo wings I wouldn’t mind sharing with you if you want to watch it with me.”
Buffalo wings! They would certainly make his mouth taste and feel better! Cedric felt his mood lifting already.
“So long as you don’t mention it to Mom or the rest of the family.”
Keep another tasty secret? No problem! Cedric thought.
He found himself moving to the couch, listening happily to the small cooking box heating those delicious wings he loved, as he watched THE DADDY pressing buttons and looking at the loud box. No doubt, the chocolate had been terrible, and he would remember it for a long time. But things were already looking up. And life was good again. His was truly a dog’s life. But it was a pretty good life, and Cedric was grateful to have it.
Now, about those wings . . .!
June 1, 2013