"Um, Kelly?" Jerry asked from the living room. "Did you put cheese on this tray?"
"The one with the crackers?" I yelled back from the kitchen.
"Of course I did, what are you talking about?"
"Well, I figured you wouldn't have left it like this," Jerry said, walking into the kitchen carrying the square platter I had placed on the coffee table moments earlier. I had loaded it with a heaping pile of beefstick, crackers and cheddar. Now the plate's pattern was completely visible where the cheese had been. Only one or two slices remained.
"You've got to be kidding me."
In the two seconds it had taken me to walk from the living room back to the kitchen, Toby had horked down an entire 12-ounce block of white sharp cheddar.
"Oh, he's gonna puke," I said. "As soon as our friends get here and start eating, he's gonna puke on the rug right in front of everybody, I know it."
"Or maybe, if he times it right, he'll wait until midnight when the ball starts to drop," Jerry said, laughing. "The entire east coast will do a countdown to our dog's vomit."
Meanwhile, Toby was underneath us, refusing to blink while staring at what used to be the cheese tray, hopping on his back legs to get himself inches. closer. to the. cheese.
"He's gonna puke! Put him outside!"
Ironically, I had been feeling so sorry for his big watery eyes as he watched me prepare a feast for our guests, and he had been so good about not getting anywhere near the food, that I actually called him into the kitchen to give him a little sliver of cheese. If I could've heard his thoughts at that moment, he would've said, "Psh, you called me into the kitchen for this? THIS?! Please woman, there's a whole PILE of this stuff in the other room. Don't waste my time."
And now that our formerly well-behaved dog had enjoied a heaping sample of the magical treats propped on a table within his reach, it was like all his restraint went down his throat with the cheddar.
The rest of the night I batted him away from the food and chased him around the house when he was successfully able to latch onto something: Chex mix, Goldfish crackers that our friends brought for their daughter, even beefstick. At one point I actually saw him running around with a slice of yellow pepper from the vegetable tray like it was a big fat cigar hanging from his mouth.
And later, when I brought out the cookies, Toby somehow latched onto one topped with a Hershey kiss. To make it more of a fun game, he plopped down on the floor inches away from me, gnawing on it in pure bliss. But by the time I got it away from him, only a small chocolate stub remained.
Amazingly, he didn't puke. It must've been an ongoing test of wills: mouth vs. stomach. Unfortunately for Toby, he didn't realize his ass would be the loser.
Knowing that much cheese would bind up even the most fluid digestive system, we figured Toby wouldn't shit for weeks.
But he shocked us again by forcibly squeezing out a little coil that was black as coal the next day.
I just laughed and said, "Happy New Year, buddy. But I'm pretty sure you've eaten your entire cheese allotment for 2007."