Like many people these days, I have a home webcam that lets me check on my pet while I’m away.
How’s the dog? I check the petcam. The dog is fine.
An hour later, I check again; the dog is still sleeping. In fact, he hasn’t moved. Maybe he’s sick!
That’s when I use the microphone function. I call Birch’s name, and perhaps that wakes him up. But now he’s confused. He can recognize my voice, but he can’t smell me. At least I know he’s OK.
I’ve learned to turn off the motion-sensor notifications on the petcam, unless I want to get 15 texts in a row because there’s a squirrel outside and the dog’s running back and forth in full fury. The camera records all the incidents, so I get a detailed account of Birch’s day: prolonged unconsciousness, punctuated by periods of thwarted bloodlust.
The other day, I wasn’t paying attention to the petcam from 1:47 to 3:15.
Apparently, that’s when my daughter came home. She was recorded on the cam, filming the room and muttering “Oh. My. God. Birch! Oh. My. God.”
As she told me later, she’d been in a hurry leaving home after lunch, and accidentally left one of the larder doors open. Birch had helped himself to a 2-pound loaf of bread, a bag of brown sugar, a bag of flour, and miscellaneous edibles.
Because we live in an age of wonders, the entire video record of his misdeeds was stored in the cloud for later enjoyment, and it’s almost … adorable.
He didn’t stand at the larder and wolf down the bread like a predator who brought down a gazelle. He picked up the bag and brought it to his bed for leisurely consumption. All 2 pounds of it.
After which I’m sure he felt like a hamster that had swallowed a boxing glove, but there was more work to be done.
In the next clip, he strolls over to his bed with a bag of brown sugar, then sets to work coating it with a granulated, sticky paste. The bag had two hard balls of dried sugar in the middle, which he apparently decided to save for dessert.
Then he ate the flour on a kitchen rug, which was snow-white by the time he figured out that this was rather dull stuff. Still, he ate it all anyway.
The camera shows the end result of the episode: wrappers and containers everywhere. Then Birch makes a small whine, and then a sharp bark. I was reminded of the quote from Alexander the Great, when he saw there were no more lands to conquer, he put his head in his hands and wept.
The dog didn’t move until 7 that night, when he became quite alert and insistent.
It was his dinnertime, of course.
James Lileks • 612-673-7858