Three months ago, I decided to move back to the States. Two months ago, I decided to move back to DC. And shortly after that, I decided, hey, why not, I’ll just be a professional baker now. Which is how, one month ago now, I have come to be living on my friend Pats’ couch, conveniently located four blocks from the job I have to start at 3:30am every morning.
Pats has been extremely wonderful and generous with her home, and I’ll finally be moving into my own apartment (one block away) next weekend. But five weeks is an awfully long time to trespass on someone’s hospitality, especially when that person lives in a studio apartment and has to listen to your alarm going off at 3:03am five days a week. I’ve tried to assuage my freeloader guilt by doing things around the apartment, like cooking meals (tonight we are featuring a carrot coriander soup with a homemade whole wheat bread; tomorrow morning offers a choice of summer squash frittata, pumpkin spice granola and yogurt, and/or pumpkin-maple-pecan brioche cinnamon rolls) or taking her dog, Nelson, out for walks. I also dog-sat for Nelson over a ten day period during which Pats was in Kyrgyzstan for work.
Nelson is a four-year old rescue dog of provenance unknown. He was found wandering the streets of New York with no tags.
He is also a pug.
A quick detour on the subject of pugs — basically, they should not exist. My friend No H recently described pugs as “an affront to the entire history of darwinism.” Fun fact I learned from Rainbow Rowell’s latest book, Landline: pugs have to be birthed by C-section because their heads are too big. Other fun fact I learned from seeing Rainbow Rowell talk about Landline last week: pugs’ eyeballs can fall out. Like, from something as simple as running down the stairs too quickly, one or both of their eyeballs can just pop out of the socket. I would normally google this to corroborate Rowell’s claims, but it all sounds so horrifying that I’ll just accept her word as gospel. Pugs are the proverbial Frankenstein’s Monster; it’s not pugs themselves that are an abomination; it’s the humans that bred them that way.
So bearing in mind that pugs’ entire existence is a mockery of evolution, let’s talk about Nelson.
Nelson has exactly two facial expressions: pitiful and terrified. After living in close quarters with him for several weeks now, I’ve determined that this is an elaborate ruse that comes programmed into all pugs to trick you into giving them snacks. And Nelson will eat absolutely anything if given the chance; his bed, blankets, pillows, the coconut oil I use for lotion, literally any food, and at one notable moment in his past, tampons. The way he looks at food, you would think we never feed him:
(here is what happened when K caved and gave him her apple core:)
Nelson does not restrict his desperate obsession to consume things to solid substances; he’s also very fond of liquids, especially the ones not in his water bowl. When I get out of the shower, he likes to hop into the bathtub and lap the water from around the drain.
In the end, though, Nelson and I were doing ok together. He learned that I am incredibly stingy with treats, and I accepted the fact that maybe his short little legs are not the best for accompanying me on my runs. We cuddle on the couch while I’m working at home, and he finally stays in his bed at night instead of waiting till I fall asleep and then curling up on top of my head. Things were going well.
And then, disaster struck.
Last Friday, I came home from work and decided that something had to be done about my chef coats. They are disgusting. I mean, I wash them every week, obviously, but after only a month in the kitchen they are already stained to hell. So I bought a “natural” oxiclean knock-off from the Yes! Organic Market, despite my intrinsic dislike of stores who include exclamation marks in their own name, and filled the bathtub with my filthy, filthy work clothes. And then, knowing Nelson’s obsession with the bathtub, I closed both the bathroom door and the closet door beyond that. Then I made a quick call to my mom — it probably lasted less than a minute. And then I hung up the phone and realized that in the past thirty seconds, I had lost track of Nelson.
Splash splash splash.
Somehow, that sneaky bastard had gotten past two closed doors and was currently trying to drink an entire bathtub of dirty oxiclean water. I fished him out and then weighed my options. I didn’t know the name of his vet, and Pats was, at that moment, somewhere in the air between Istanbul and DCA. I was worried, but I was also pretty sure Nelson had consumed way, way worse (please see: the tampon incident of 2k13). I consulted google and determined that it was probably fine, so long as he drank lots of water.
I refilled his water bowl, and he looked up at me with a face that said, “why would I drink this pedestrian water when I could be drinking a bathtub full of toxic laundry water?” Also, pitiful terror.
I emailed K at work to relay the story. She is also a frequent dog-sitter for Nelson and was able to give me his vet information, and some friendly advice.
“Maybe feed him some tampons to soak up the oxiclean.” Thanks.
She also promptly told one of her coworkers so they could both laugh at my suffering. Luckily, the internet was more helpful. I splashed about a tablespoon of milk into his water bowl, and in doing so, tricked him into drinking about four cups of water. Success!
In the end, I didn’t need the vet. As far as I could tell, the oxiclean had no effect whatsover, on either the dog or my chef coats. The milk-water, however, necessitated hourly trips outside. I also gave him a very thorough bath. Pats came home later that night and couldn’t stop talking about how clean Nelson was.