We were out back cooking chicken halves on my superduper BBQ that I made from a couple of 55 gallon drum. I’s cut one barrel in half the long way and welded feet to it so it was like a tub. I cut a slot in the other one, also longwise and welded it so that it made a sort of hood that caught the smoke and routed it to a little chimney I’d welded in the middle of what was now the top. Cutting a shopping cart apart, I made a grill for the bottom and a smoking shelf in the top. It worked great and people came from miles around to experience my barbeque chicken. Okay, they came from the neighborhood and it was just my friends, but the chicken was pretty good. Much of that had to do with the marinate my friend Greg made. He also made a really great BBQ sauce with molasses, soy sauce, ground peppers, Tobasco and some other ingredients I don’t remember but wish I did.
Anyway, we were out soaking up the last rays of afternoon along with some Coors beer. Coors was the beer of choice in the Portland/Vancouver area at the time. The problem was that it wasn’t sold anywhere in the state os of Washington or Oregon. The Portland area had yet to become a nest of microbrews it is now and so the choices were pretty much what you found in the grocery store. Unless, of course, you made a run for the Idaho border and picked up a few cases of Coors, which we had. It’s not like Coors was really better, it’s that we couldn’t get it that made us want it.
The dogs, Ellwood, Snark and Foos were all playing with each other, playing tug o’ rope with what looked like it might have been a jacket at one time. The point here is that it was a great day and we were all enjoying ourselves. Someone threw a softball and hit Ben in the back. It wasn’t thrown hard, just enough to get his attention. He picked it up and threw it at Craig who made a nice one handed surprise catch and whipped it to me. I was turning the chicken and it caused me to flip one of the halves onto the ground.
As though some quantum message was passed between them, the dogs transported themselves to the barbecue and snatched up the chicken before I could reach down to fetch it. I landed on the grass and a quick rinse and a dip in the BBQ sauce would have it good as new. No way for that to happen as three dog snouts each took and equal grip on the meat and pulled, separating the chicken half into three chunks which were pretty much inhaled by the dogs. They all stood, tails wagging in some synchronized swim movement, their tongues flapping out and wrapping around their noses to get every last molecule of chicken and sauce consumed. They stood attentively now, as if they stood some kind of chance they were getting more chicken.
Dogs are very smart. Dogs are also dumber than rocks. Chicken bones are the last thing a dog should eat because they break off sharply and can block up the bowels pretty good. We were going to have to keep a close eye on the dogs. If they bloated or had blood coming out, they would have to go to the vet. This we found out by going in and calling the veterinary clinic up the road. When we all came out, we also found out that the dogs had taken the opportunity to score the remaining three chicken halves. We came out to find the grill empty, soot and grease on the dog’s paws and all of them licking their chops and looking paranoid.
After we all got done insulting the separate canine family trees, we strolled up the road to Dick’s to get a bag o burger. 10 little burgers for a buck. We bought a few bags and came back to the house.
The next day, my dog, Papoon, was making whining noises and dragging his butt like he had worms. Fearing the worst, I took him up to the vet to find out that A) my friends had been there with their dogs, and B) that xrays showed bones in my dog’s lower GI tract. The vet gave him something that was supposed to soften up the bones and some antibiotics and told to wait it out. A surgery to remove the bones would be expensive and dangerous. But after two days all of our dogs managed to ‘move’ the problem out. We all concluded that dogs could be a lot like little kids and that they needed an eye kept on them. Still, they would manage to chew your favorite pair of boots or gnaw on furniture legs in the night because they got bored. But like kids, it always somehow turns out worth it in the end.
We planned a new barbecue but the weather turned and we ended up with two weeks of rain. (It was the Portland area after all). The barbecue got dragged over next to the house and covered with a tarp until the next season. We did make a couple of beer runs to Idaho though.