The Thanksgiving when the dogs almost burned down the house

Our Thanksgiving dinner was a culinary experience beyond all expectation. My sister played hostess this year, and her meal absolutely lived up to the standards set by my mom during the holidays of our childhood. The turkey was juicy and tender. The stuffing, made with mom’s now family-famous recipe, was perfect in its savory goodness. We, the guests, brought sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, cranberries, dinner rolls and other sides to complement the main dishes my sister had prepared.

For dessert, my sister-in-law made her family-favorite pumpkin chiffon pie. I made the traditional pumpkin pies. (And word has it, they were good!) Even after indulging in more food in one sitting than any of us commonly eats, we each found room for a plate of something sweet, some with an extra dollop of whipped cream on top. None of us exercised any restraint on this one day of the year when any sense of responsible eating tends to go out the window.

I had picked up my parents earlier in the day and escorted them to the holiday dinner, and by this point, they were growing tired and ready to go back home again. My family did a bit of vehicle-juggling. Hubby Jack, who had arrived in his truck after working earlier in the day, accompanied me in my car for the ride back to my parents’ house so as to assist in getting Mom and Dad safely back into their home. Ryker drove his dad’s truck back to our home, while Jaeger and Chesney went in Jaeger’s truck.

Jack and I had successfully returned my parents to the comfort of their living room and got them settled in for the evening. We were just heading back to our own house when my cell phone rang. I could see it was Ryker calling and answered it using the bluetooth option so that both Jack and I could both hear.

“What’s up?” I asked Ryker.

“I just walked in the door at home and there were two burners burning on the stove. They’ve been on for a while because it’s like a thousand degrees in the kitchen!”

Instant panic set in as I realized how bad this might have turned out had my parents not wanted to go home after dinner as soon as they did, and had Ryker not arrived home in time to shut off those burners before serious damage occurred to our home. My mind raced in the seconds following the news and I wracked my brain trying to figure out how I had possibly left the gas stove on while we were away. And then I remembered. I hadn’t used the stove-top at all that day … only the oven. How had two burners been lit and left burning for who-knows how long???

Ryker went on to say that the knife block, which sits next to the stove, was hot, as was the microwave that is positioned on the wall above the stove.

“And there was a Ziploc bag on the floor with teeth marks in it,” he finished.

Ziploc bag? Teeth marks? It only took a moment for me to remember packing up dinner rolls to bring to my sister’s house that day. I had made too many and decided to leave a half-dozen of them home. I had zipped them into a storage bag which I had tucked into a back corner of the kitchen counter, near the stove. My kids love those fresh baked rolls and I knew they’d get eaten in days after Thanksgiving.

That’s when it dawned on me. An empty storage bag with teeth marks had dogs written all over it. Someone had been counter-surfing and helped their canine selves to my fresh-baked dinner rolls! Lucy has never done such a thing, so I strongly suspected Jaeger’s dog, Dacotah as the culprit. Besides, she is taller than Lucy and more likely to reach food on the counter if she were to have jumped up there.

Jack and I arrived home just moments behind Jaeger and Chesney. As we all spilled into the foyer, I looked up the stairs to see Ryker in the kitchen doorway, holding the empty teeth-marked bag. Jaeger was sternly addressing the dogs, asking, “What did you do? What did you do?

The dogs appeared appropriately sheepish and hung their heads as Jaeger scolded them. I made my way upstairs and confirmed what Ryker had told me, that the upper level of the house was decidedly warmer than the furnace would normally make it on a snowy, cold day such as this one. At Ryker’s urging, I held my palm above the stove grates and confirmed they were really hot, as was the knife block, and the microwave above. Those burners had been burning for some time while we were away. This could have been so bad! Our house could have caught on fire. Our beloved fur-babies … I can’t even think about it!

In all the times Dacotah has spent time with us, nothing like this has ever happened. How could we have known to take extra precautions in leaving the two dogs alone for a few hours?

My panic gave way to gratefulness that our circumstances had fallen together in such a way that we were able to come home in time to avert any real disaster. It’s amazing to me now that it even happened. The knobs for the stove burners are somewhat child-proof. You have to push one in and turn it before the ignitor kicks in and lights the flame. Dacotah’s paws must have landed just right in order to turn two burners on. And she’s lucky she didn’t light her own fur on fire!

After all of our heart rates had returned to normal and we’d had a chance to catch our breath, Jaeger agreed it was probably Dacotah who was to blame, (although there’s little doubt that Lucy participated in the glutton-fest that surely followed the thievery of the dinner rolls.) Dacotah had likely learned the counter-surfing tactic a couple of weekends ago while Jaeger’s buddy was dog-sitting her in his own home. The buddy has a roommate with a poorly trained dog who is known to steal food within reach. Dacotah likely picked up a new trick during her brief stay. And in the days following our near miss, she proved her guilt when several times we caught her trailing her snout along the edge of our kitchen counters.

We had to leave the dogs alone again last night when we all went out for dinner and then to our bowling league. We were all set to block the dogs into the lower level of the house when Jack came up with a much simpler plan. He called me to the kitchen and showed me. He’d pulled all of the burners off of the stove. And yes, all food had been properly put away, well out of the reach of tempted dogs.

Guilty Dogs B

Sorry-not-sorry!

I am still breathing a huge sigh of relief!

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7 thoughts on “The Thanksgiving when the dogs almost burned down the house

    • Thanks, MJ! I’m so glad too. I couldn’t even be mad at the dogs. They were doing what comes naturally I guess. And I was just so grateful they were okay! Definitely a lesson learned.

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  1. How frightening! Dogs can be so mischievous. We always put our son’s dog in his kennel when we leave the house because we don’t trust him to be left unattended. He’s like a little toddler – we always have to keep our eyes on him. We’ve found him sneaking around on the kitchen or dining room tables when we weren’t looking. Last year, he got into a plate of Christmas cookies! Bauer had some chocolate, but thankfully it didn’t hurt him.

    I’m glad you got home when you did. Yikes!

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    • Thanks Mary Ann! We used to put the dogs in their kennels when we left, but they’ve both matured and eventually it didn’t seem necessary to coop them up while we were away for several hours. Since this was a new “trick,” we’ll definitely have to be more cautious in the future when leaving them alone.

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  2. I couldn’t figure out how they almost burned your house down, but now, I can totally see how that may happen! Sometimes I lean against my knobs just right, and I’ll accidentally light the burners. Scary! You know somebody was watching down on you all, to time all the circumstances just right so that you would be home before things got worse. So glad everybody’s ok! Fur babies included!

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    • It was definitely scary to think how bad it all could have been. And I’m so glad somebody was watching over us. It would have been devastating to lose the dogs, not to mention the house. I don’t think I could take one more significantly bad thing happening right now!

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  3. WHOA, that’s scary! They really did almost burn your house down! I would have never thought of that happening. Now I’m looking at China and the cat all paranoid. We have a glass top, I can’t take the burners off! That’s pretty amazing that the burners were hot enough and on long enough to make the house noticeably warmer nearby. Glad everyone’s okay! Whew!

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