The Brat and The Beet

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My family loves beets — or, as Gill now calls it after being brainwashed by the Brits, ‘beetroot’. It is one thing she often requests when she comes home.  So L’il Sis was thrilled when she picked up hers and Crazy D’s farm allotment of food this week. (Don’t ask…it’s a hippie throwback to the communes and co-ops of the 60s, reinvented for local suburban yuppies supported by those going ‘back to nature’. Personally, it’s all I can do to drive two blocks to the local supermarket to find what passes these days for food. Haven’t died yet from it, so what do I care about organic this and natural that? This old body is a testament to modern day chemistry and big pharma. I’m okay with that.)

L’il Sis was particularly ecstatic over the lovely beets. Whereupon she decided to make a delicious pot of Borscht. The Pig, her sidekick in the kitchen, settled in to ‘help’. As L’il Sis peeled and sliced the beets, she threw the odd chunk The Pig’s way. My own Poochie loved certain fruits and the odd baby carrot, but was not an aficionado of veggies. The Pig prefers meat and salmon, but being a beagle, will eat anything if it meets the broader definition of ‘food substance’ — up to and including her own poop.. For she is a BRAT, as all beagles are. YouTube has made her breed famous for ransacking kitchens when their families are away. They will even push chairs over to counters, jump up, sashay on counters until they access the bread box or refrigerator. Yes, The Pig has been known, in her brattiest moments, to help herself to the contents of the fridge.

I was upstairs when the cry came out. “Mom! Come quick!” L’il Sis shrieked. When I rushed downstairs in a panic, she was cuddling the dog and looked stricken with grief. (If our regular readers recall, The Pig had her cancerous spleen removed several months ago and, although her recovery has seemed miraculous, we still look for telltale signs that the cancer has returned. We think she has beaten it, but  are still wary.)

“The Pig just spat up blood when she coughed,” wailed L’il Sis.

“Oh My God! And it’s too late to take her to the vet. They’ll be closed,” I reasoned. “I didn’t want to mention it, but she was doing her horking-coughing thing a lot today.”

L’il Sis held The Pig in a hug that was enough to strangle any being. I joined in. “We love you, Pig. You can’t be sick…You’ll be okay, baby.”

“I’ll take her to the vet first thing in the morning,” L’il Sis intoned gravely. “I won’t go to work. The Pig is more important.” I nodded in agreement, envisioning a sleepless night of anxiety for both of us and a potential middle-of-the-night race to the emergency vet across town. We’ve done that more than once with sick pets.

I looked down at The Pig’s bed to examine the blood stains. “You know”, I ventured, “This blood is rather pink…you don’t think it might have just been the beets, do you?”

We both studied the forensic evidence (I resisted the urge to get out the magnifying glass ’cause that would just be too CSI) and, relieved, concluded that it was actually beet juice, not blood. We breathed a huge sigh of relief.

The Pig had a restful night, showing no signs of ill health or discomfort. I left her alone the following morning to do errands. When I retuned home, there she was to greet me, a big smile on her face.

“Oh, oh…what have you done?”I interrogated her. When the beagle smiles, be wary. And sure enough, spread all over the kitchen floor was the garbage.

“Hmm, I guess you’re feeling just fine, huh? The Brat that ate The Beet is just a brat!” With that, I gave her a big hug and proceeded to clean up the mess.

I just emailed Gill to warn her that beets probably wouldn’t be on the menu when she comes home…too much stress.

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