Every time we cook at home, our beagle, Coltrane, lurks nearby, hoping something—-a scrap of bacon, a shard of shallot—-will fall to the linoleum, one of the many surfaces in the house that has learned to submit to the tender ministrations of his tongue. If we could figure out a way to soap the beagle’s mouth before he enters the kitchen, we would have the cleanest kitchen floor in five states.
Every time we return home from one of D.C.’s eateries, he’s there on the couch as we open the door, blinking sleepily and wagging gently, a wag that increases in speed as he inspects us for leftovers. Sometimes we like to play a game in which we slip a morsel from a restaurant plate into a napkin, and then into the depths of my handbag. When we arrive home, we watch as the beagle first greets us, then realizes via a quick sniff that There is a Food Product Here and then goes insane nosing at the zipper of the purse and cursing the gods for not giving him opposable thumbs.
Every night when we’re about to go to sleep, the beagle leaps on top of Tim and performs a thorough examination of his mustache and beard, hoping against hope that some drop of goodness from his daily rounds will have failed to make it down Tim’s throat and will instead be clinging there, ready for canine consumption.
That doesn’t happen often, but even the mustache-ghosts of tandoori chicken or tere segas, scents too faint for our pitiful human schnozzles to perceive, fascinate our dog. As a beagle, he is a notorious scent hound, prone to fits of selective deafness when, on walks, he smells a tasty treat such as a deer turd or a week-old burrito ground into the pavement. No cries of “Stop it!” or “Don’t eat that dead squirrel/snake/rat/human baby!” will deter him.
In the time we have known him, he has eaten a chicken carcass, a box of Godiva truffles, a half-bottle of Advil, and countless other things that were carefully stored—-stacked high on shelves, boarded up behind pantry doors, secured into huge rubber trash cans—-but could not survive the stubborn will of a patient (and increasingly chubby) beagle. He has dined on leftovers of waygu beef and had Coho salmon dropped to him as we cooked. He is strangely fond of carrots.
In his most splendid culinary adventure, as we were preparing a multi-course dinner party and our guests were canoodling on the couch, I passed by the door of the dining room on my way to check a recipe, only to let out a screech when I saw that Coltrane had climbed onto a chair, then onto the dining room table, and was delicately making his way across its surface, weaving between the candles, inspecting the plates, and inserting his snout into the glasses of wine we’d left there.
He’s getting older now, and we often have to carry him up and down the basement stairs to keep him from slipping. He sometimes misses the bed when he tries to jump up for the nightly ‘stache inspection. Neither of us want to think about the day when our canine gourmand isn’t around to thieve, beg, and show passionate enthusiasm over even the lousiest dishes we cook. In that last quality, he is the best (and most unusual) of foodies: content with whatever is given to him.
While we feel like the lucky ones in our relationship with this dog, generally speaking, the pets of foodies and chefs must be extremely happy animals. Do your pets appreciate your work in the kitchen? Do you know of any local chefs with suspiciously pudgy pooches?