November 21, 2019

Take 5 Dogs, Add 1 Cat, Mix in Bag of Dog Food Wielded by 1 Man

Or, It’s the Rube Goldberg Show!

• By John F. Chisholm •

Rube Goldberg was real.  He passed away in 1970 leaving a legacy of circuitous causes resulting in simple effects.  Alas!  His convoluted mechanics still work.  Trust me.

I have a recent example but first there’s some essential background.  Bear with me.

My wife keeps Chesapeake Bay Retrievers.  They’re great dogs but they eat a lot.  She has a great many of them ― five are home at the moment ― so that collectively, they eat considerably more than just a lot.  Truly.  That, in turn, keeps me busy hauling dog food.  We store it in two, 40-gallon galvanized garbage cans in the pantry.

Whenever those tins empty, I refill them using 50-pound bags of veterinarian-approved, recommended and supplied kibble.

I know.  That doesn’t sound like much.  But haul as much dog food as I have and you’ll think otherwise, too.  As a result, I’m very apt to be brusque when restocking.  My attitude is deplorable:  Let’s get this chore over and done.

Of course with that many dogs, it never is.  That only makes my attitude worse.  I’m not proud of it.  I’m simply being honest.  Besides, as with every bad attitude, there’s a price to pay.

When refilling those galvanized garbage cans, I first make sure they’re empty.  My wife stores the measuring scoops, dog dishes and various bags of rawhide chewies in the tins on top of the kibble.  Once the cans are completely empty, I fetch a bag, head directly to the pantry, rip it open and dump.  Simple.

It doesn’t have to be.

That’s because there are other variables.  For example, there’s Jinx.  He’s our indoor cat.  He’s great, a one-of-kind feline that nevertheless feels the compulsion to eat, too.  Whenever I’m hauling dog food, he’s on the pantry shelf hoping for handouts.  (That’s where we feed him.  With so many dogs, you can’t feed the cat on the floor.  He’d never get any food.)

Yesterday I went through the preliminaries.  All of them.  First I balanced the lids atop the trash barrel.  Then I stacked the stainless steel dog dishes on the pantry shelf.  (There are 10.)  I removed the scoops and lifted out two bags of rawhide chewies as well.  The cans themselves I pulled away from the wall for expeditious filling.

Then I fetched the kibble, clomping in from outside, 50 pounds of dog food on my shoulder, fingers gripping the ‘OPEN HERE’ tab on the bag.  I thought I was ready but, as mentioned, I was hardly mentally prepared for the job.  I leaned over the first tin and yanked the tab.

Several things happened in very short order:

First, Jinx jumped onto the pantry shelf, his usual grace impeded by cascading kibble.  His leap was measurably short as a result.  Instead of the shelf, he landed on the stack of stainless steel dog dishes.  They didn’t hold him, dropping to the floor, the opening cymbals of a Sousa march.

I leapt back to avoid the falling dishes.

Unlike Jinx, I’ve never been graceful.

Not that he did so well.  Not this time.  Jinx fell into the garbage can and was promptly buried by avalanching dog food.

Unwilling to have my cat crushed and, what the hell, I was falling anyway, I tipped the can over to save him.  The can banged into the trash barrel, knocking the stacked galvanized lids along with the trash onto the hardwood in a second cacophony of ongoing disaster as the remaining kibble overspread the floor.

The dogs, alerted by the noise and seeing the unexpected bonanza ― free food! ― charged.

Since no embarrassing moment goes unwitnessed ― at least not around here ― my wife, hearing the successive impacts, came running into the kitchen.  Trash and dog food covered the pantry floor.  Her husband was on all fours, head in an overturned garbage can unburying his cat.  Her five dogs were climbing over us both, fighting for the tastier pieces.

“Hey!”  She yelled at us collectively.  “My cooking isn’t that bad!”

She has a point.

Nevertheless, tonight, we’re going out to dinner.  It’s my treat, exactly the way Rube Goldberg  ― or perhaps his wife ― would have planned it.

That’ll teach me to have a bad attitude.