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Butter makes just about all things better

December 03, 2002|by TIM ROWLAND

Being on my own for so many years, my idea of Thanksgiving had always been to put a slice of pumpkin on my Slim Jims.

But now things are different and on the holiday I not only found myself surrounded by people, but actually helped cook. This was frightening business.

Fortunately, a famous chef once told me the age-old secret to successful cooking: Add butter. If you're out of butter, add bacon.

Yup, that's about it. Turkey drying out? Add butter. Sweet potatoes not everybody's favorite vegetable? Add butter. Stuffing sort of bland? Add butter. Iced tea too weak? Add butter.

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I didn't even get a turkey this year. I just got a 20-pound block of butter and chain sawed it into a bird shape. Then I stuffed it with butter.

Everything was perfectly under control and we were feeling good about the timetable. As a matter of fact, everything was going so well I made the serious error of deciding I could take the visiting dog, Crosby, for a brief stroll.

Crosby is in-laws' Kris and Brad's beautiful chocolate lab, who despite being still mostly puppy, has grown roughly to the size of a furry aircraft carrier with a head like a landing strip, only wider. Personality-wise, he is kind of like Warren Zevon's "Excitable Boy."

That morning I had made the twin errors of leaving the bedroom door ajar and sleeping atop the covers. I was awakened by a Very Cold Nose on the rear, which I must say, is information I should pass along to the Seth Thomas corporation, since this was more fully effective than about five alarm clocks bundled together.

So, being up a little earlier than intended, it seemed logical to take the huge dog and our small dog, Jake Biscuit, for a little morning romp in the back yard.

Unfortunately, I was lacking some key information, that being that Crosby takes directions worse than Alec Baldwin. The idea of a morning romp was fine with him, but apparently he found the back yard a little too artistically confining. He stuck around for about 2.1 seconds before bolting off in long, loping strides that carried him about one city block per jump.

The ensuing chase was complicated by the fact that a jailbreak sounded good to Jake Biscuit as well, so I had to alternately chase after Crosby and then turn and chase Jake back to the house. Of course, the dogs were low to the ground and beneath neighborhood hedge levels, so if anyone happened to look out the window at that particular time they would have seen only some crazed man running 80 feet forward, then 60 feet back, then 80 forward, 60 back, 80 forward, 60 back and they might have had some trouble making sense of it.

Crosby was about 10 blocks away by this time, and all I could do was stay relatively close and hope for some unforeseen development that would let me collar him. He was having great fun, of course - letting me get within about a millimeter of his collar before bounding another three miles into the hinterlands.

Then I noticed something. It was almost as if there was an invisible tether between us. If I moved in his direction, he'd run away, but conversely he would come nearer when I moved back. Thus the game entered Phase II. This involved me sprinting back toward the house at full speed through everybody's back yard, with him in hot pursuit. It was so simple, but it was working beautifully.

And that's when he saw the other dog.

I'd been running like an idiot, not noticing that he had long since stopped, his attention distracted by another lab penned in a back yard. At first there was much sniffing, followed up by much braying. That was followed by much hissing - coming from me, mostly, as I tried to get the two clowns to shut up before the home's owner came out in his nightshirt with a shotgun and dispatched us all to that great "I Love Lucy" show in the sky.

Just when all seemed lost, my mother-in-law, Kay, came to the rescue, bagging Crosby just as neat as you please. All it took to weaken his constitution was a dog biscuit - which I am sure contains a high percentage of butter.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist.

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