There wasn’t a speck of pink icing anywhere.
Not on my dining room rug. Not on the hardwood floor or even around the graying face of our beloved oversized boxer, Dozier.
But as he tried unsuccessfully to hide his 80-pound self behind our dining room table, peeking his face around the mahogany chairs, his ears bent back sheepishly, his nub of a tail wagging slowly in a downward position — I knew something was up.
The empty box gave it away.
My 9-year-old daughter screamed as she rounded the corner. She had just gotten home from a birthday dinner at a Mexican restaurant, a tradition in our family.
“My CAKE!” she cried.
At Dozier’s feet was an open cardboard cake box, the only remnants of the cake was smeared hot pink frosting inside and a few half-chewed birthday candles, which had yet to be lit.
Dozier continued to wag his nub of a tail, but his ears told of his shame. He abashedly walked toward us, his droopy jowls facing the floor, seemingly to apologize.
Sometimes the temptation is just too much, dear dog.
We learned soon after we adopted Dozier three years ago that baked goods had to be placed out of reach. White bread was his biggest weakness — along with sugar cookies, Oreos, or the occasional dirty diaper pulled from the trash can. (It doesn’t help having a trash can with a lid when your dog learns to press the “open” button on his own.)
People thought I was crazy, bringing home a very large dog when we had a very small house and three young kids — including a newborn at the time. But over time, Dozier has become threaded into the fabric of our family.
He’s the one who greets us the second we enter the door, the one who sits silently by the kids at dinnertime, waiting for something to drop. He’s the one who, when I’m reading a book to the kids, will nudge his big old mug between my arms and in front of the picture book, always looking to be the center of attention.
When our youngest daughter recently moved from her crib to a toddler bed, he jumped in it with her, his tail wagging so fast his rear end wiggled, seemingly thinking it was a fantastic new dog bed. And when I lay down to watch TV on the couch at night, he’ll always nudge his saggy face up to mine, or he will slowly crawl up on the couch with me, one paw after another — like I would never notice a giant dog was laying across me.
Sure, he has his neuroses. He likes to chase cats, but he is actually scared when they get up close. He’s a gentle giant, but when a stranger comes to the door, he becomes a fierce guard dog. When UPS comes to deliver, he starts to growl when he can hear the rumble of the truck, usually about a block away.
But every dog has its quirks — including a sweet tooth or craving for cake.
Our birthday girl cried at first, upset that her hot pink cake that we had saved for dessert was devoured by Dozier. But as he looked up with his big sad eyes, trying to get her attention, my husband “spoke” for Dozier with his low-pitch “dog” voice, saying “Sorry.” We all began to laugh.
Having a dog like Dozier has brought such richness into our lives, even with little accidents — or missing birthday cakes — along the way. I just hope that love grows. We are bringing a puppy home next month — the kids just don’t know it yet.
— Lydia Seabol Avant writes The Mom Stop for The Tuscaloosa News in Alabama. Reach her at email@example.com.