Story: In which mischief almost happened, but didn’t

I almost didn’t write the following post. While, in the end, nothing happened other than a few glares and snippy Discussion among my pets, I felt terribly embarrassed that I was oblivious to the trouble that was abrewin’. Then I thought maybe others can learn from my mistakes, and so I am offering a story here–one with a happy ending because I finally read the signs.

Please don’t judge me, friends and fans. 

And Don’t. Try. This. At. Home. Or anywhere else.

Read on…

Tasty dog treats arrive at our door

Recently the UPS man delivered a wonderful gift: a box of treats from Merrick Pet Care. The dogs and the cats of the household could smell the tasty goodies hidden within the cardboard.

My dogs are fans of Merrick’s treats. When I was at the BlogPaws conference in May, I shipped back home all the samples except for one bag each of dog and cat treats. The ones I had brought for the dogs were a bag of Merrick’s Cowboy Cookout biscuits. To call them a hit would be a dramatic understatement. Even picky Ms. Lilah performed her Sits extra fast when those biscuits were around.

For reasons unfathomable to the feline and canine minds, when this box of yummy goodness arrived, I didn’t open it up right away. Instead I brought it to my office and set it on the chest.

I was trying to finish a blog post when a chewing sound creeped into my consciousness. There was Calvin standing on the box and gnawing on the corner. I shooed him away and attempted to finish what I started.

As if that’s even remotely possibly with a cat on a mission, just a few feet from my laptop.

“All right. I give up,” I  told him as he attempted to claw his way into the box.

Opening up a box of trouble

I took the treasure downstairs, followed by my dog–and cat–posse. Grabbing a pair of scissors from the drawer, I put the box on the floor of the family room and then realized, to my inner blogger’s horror, that I had left my camera in the office. [We’ll call this mistake number 1.]

By the time I returned, the aroma had attracted a few noses.

Jasper and Tucker smell the treats in the box

Jasper and Tucker smell the treats in the box


Athena circles the box of Merrick treats like a plane waiting for clearance to land.

Athena circles like a plane waiting for clearance to land.


Athena comes close to the box of treats while Tucker and Jasper (and Calvin the cat) watch.

Athena starts her approach.

And here’s where I should have stopped taking pictures. [Mistake number 2.] I didn’t see it at first, but it’s extremely clear looking at the photos now. Tucker and Jasper are not happy about Athena getting close.

Notice the look on Tucker: the intense stare. Notice Jasper’s ears way back.

The camera caught what I didn’t see at first.

Athena, realizing there was nothing to eat yet, strolled away. Calvin climbed on top of the box. Notice his stare.

Calvin claims ownership of the box of Merrick treats.

Calvin claims ownership.

Looking at the pictures now, it’s so obvious trouble was in the air.

I pride myself in being able to read my pets, to see the very subtle changes in posture that indicate an increase in tension. Yet I didn’t. And I kept on taking pictures. [Mistake number 3.]

Tucker stares at Jasper and Calvin, whose paw is still on the box of Merrick treats.

Calvin had been staring at Tucker.

Tucker is now glaring at the cat. Even though both dogs are laying down, I can see the tension in Tucker’s posture. Jasper’s ears are now way back as he watches Tucker. He’s reading his brother Tucker correctly as I stupidly continue to snap fun photos of dogs and cats and a box of very tempting treats.

I put the camera down for a moment so I could open the box and see what was inside.

Jasper, Tucker and Calvin sniff at the opened box of treats from Merrick.

The open box reveals the treasure of treats in all their aromatic glory.

Two dogs and a cat immediately stick their snouts in the opened box and inhale deeply of the deliciousness that had been hidden within. [Mistake Number 4.]

There are no more pictures after this.

Nothing happened. But it could have.

I put my camera down and started going through the contents. [Mistake Number 5.] As I was pulling different bags and containers out, I looked up and finally saw what was going on. Tucker didn’t snap or growl, he didn’t bite anyone, but he mouthed at Calvin and made some ever-so-sight grumbly noises at Jasper.

That was the moment I picked everything up and brought it out of the house and into the garage where the scent couldn’t enter. [Finally did something right!]

Then I took the dogs outside where they could play and burn off the tension.

In the end, nothing happened.

But it could have. The signs were all there.

My dogs and cats get along. I feed them all at the same time–though the cats are fed on the buffet and the dogs on the floor.  The dog bowls are placed in a way that Tucker in particular can’t see the other  two while he’s eating, because I’ve seen that tension a couple of times years ago. The cats are fed first; full kitty tummies means they are less likely to bother the dogs while they’re eating. In addition, the kitties have been taught (with spray bottles) not to approach when the dogs are eating.

Good dogs don’t suddenly go bad

Do you ever hear those stories of dogs suddenly going bad? Suddenly attacking someone? Usually there’s a quote from one of the humans involved that sounds something like this:

“Out of the blue, he…”


“There was no warning, and then she…”

Trust me, folks, the signs are there. Learn your dogs. Learn their behaviors. Learn their body language. Learn how to prevent issues.

Do I think Tucker would have lost it? Would he have attacked Jasper or Calvin? Probably not. He really is a caring and well-trained dog, who is well aware of the boundaries in our home. But I put all my pets at risk by creating a tense situation around high-value food.

Don’t worry, folks. I learned my lesson. As cautious and observant as I’ve been in the past, I will be even more so now.

As for the treats from Merrick? They are kept out of nose reach, and I’ve been using them as rewards for the dogs. Funny; Jasper, Lilah and Tucker have been on their best behavior lately.


Today we’re participating in the Monday Mischief blog hop. Stop by and read about some of the fun mischief the bloggers below want to share with you.


17 Comments on "Story: In which mischief almost happened, but didn’t"

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  1. slimdoggy says:

    Great post and story to learn from. I’ve been fortunate that we’ve never had incidents with our dogs. They all get along well. I feed them treats together but they eat inside/outside because Jack will just go eat Maggie’s if I’m not watching…and she just backs away and let’s him. There is a peaceful hierarchy among them and they both respect it….based on seniority 🙂

  2. Sue says:

    Don’t beat yourself up – we all make mistakes in judgement at some time. Thankfully nobody got hurt. You’ve described exactly why I open boxes in the kitchen (on the island or table).

  3. easy rider says:

    they look like a supervisory committee together :o) and I’
    m glad they checked the treats together instead to act like real members of such a supervisory gang :o)

  4. Brian Frum says:

    It just proves that everyone should get their own box MOL!

  5. Love how they all investigate the box.

  6. Whisppy says:

    It’s very fortunate that nothing unfortunate happened. Those treats must have smelt really good!

  7. It’s great that it got prevented in time. Mr. N is very good around food (and we practice trading and other behaviors to ward off resource guarding) but our foster dog was not so we had to take steps to make sure it didn’t escalate.

  8. Jen Jelly says:

    It’s good that nothing happened, but don’t beat yourself up over it. The great thing is that you learned from it even though nothing really bad happened. We all do it, we each get caught up in the moment and miss signs and cues from our pets.

    The box must have really smelled delicious, the picture where all 4 are suddenly surrounding it made me laugh; our pets are such curious animals.

  9. I’m so glad that nothing happened! They are all super cute!

    I feed my cats first, too. Mine all get along for the most part. We’ve had a few grumbles here and there. Kitties just don’t know when to stop!

  10. Glad nothing happened! And Rita is glad she doesn’t have to share her treats with anyone else. 🙂

  11. I am glad to hear this story had a happy ending! This was a great post that I’m sure many can learn from – I definitely need to be better at picking up on dogs’ cues!

  12. That was a close call!

    Trust me, with our without treats in my house, if there was a cat anywhere near there would have been chaos! 🙂

    I hope you’re having a fun day,

    Your pal Snoopy 🙂

  13. A realistic scenario that could happen to the best of us – depending on the moods of the animals. Well written, loved that it was an honest recap of what happened. Thanks for sharing.

  14. Kitties Blue says:

    So happy to know, Susan, that no fur was flying by the end of the photo session, especially as you got some really great photos. That really must be some exceptionally strong smelling foodables. XO, Lily Olivia, Mauricio, Misty May, Giulietta, Fiona, Astrid, Lisbeth and Calista Jo

  15. You shouldn’t be embarrassed. Sometimes it’s easy to overlook the signs that were there, especially if there aren’t usually problems. You caught it in time – that’s what matters. Nothing happened. But we agree with Brian — everyone should have their own box! MOL!

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