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The Mysterious Case of the Dog with the Chicken 

A few days ago I was walking Charlie in the early morning--which, for the record, is my least favorite time of day to be outside. I don't mind being awake, as long as I can be in my jammies (that word was just auto-corrected to "jambes"--how dare you, auto-correct) and holding a steaming mug of coffee. Those are my terms. Sadly my dog does not care about my terms. He cares about peeing as soon as daylight breaks through the bedroom blinds. He used to sleep until I chose to walk him because he is the best ever, but now he is elderly and everything's changed.

On the weekends Scott walks him, but weekdays, it's Scott's job to get Henry to school, which leaves me with the dog and his elderly bathroom needs. I definitely have the better deal, but I still whine about it. It is my way.

On this particular day I was stumbling around the block when I spotted a neighbor's dog, rooting through another neighbor's trash. This was unusual--for this dog, at least. We have a couple of neighbors who, if I saw their dogs rooting around unaccompanied, I would not be surprised. Frustrated, annoyed, sure. Those are my favorite emotions. But not surprised. This dog, however, is owned by a family who seems to have their shit together. They appear to know enough not to loose their dog on a city sidewalk with instructions to return when he's done.

This dog is also elderly, and I think either a beagle or basset or some combination thereof, and he was really enthusiastic about the garbage he had gotten into. He was standing in the street, between a couple of cars, where he had gnawed through a garbage bag to get to some garbagey treats. I tried to get closer, but Charlie, being blind and deaf, wanted to continue past him to pee on some things. We had some words, Charlie and I. He didn't hear them. I looked crazy to the people walking by, all of whom probably thought this second dog snarfling through the trash was also mine.

When I got closer to the dog I saw that he had in his possession a meaty chicken carcass. I felt a) sad that someone would throw away so much chicken (I mean, think of the soup that could have been made! THINK OF IT) and also b) sad that the dog could be flattened by a passing car if he moved .5 inches away from the curb.

"I will save this dog!" I said to myself. Not out loud, because I am not that crazy. I called to the dog, which for the record is stupid if you don't know the dog's name. I actually called out, "Here, pooch!" As if this dog would think in its little nut-sized brains, "Why, 'pooch' means 'dog,' and 'dog' is me! She means ME!" Even if I knew the dog's name, dog had a chicken. Everyone knows, when it comes to dogs, if it's you against a chicken carcass, you're going to lose. That's science.

Naturally, the dog ignored me. Charlie peed on a tree while I stood a foot or so away, wondering what to do. I called to him again. I tried different words, like "doggie" and "hey you" because I am extra smart in the early morning, with no coffee in me. Then I looked around some more.

Finally I managed to get over to the dog (Charlie resisted but was then intrigued by chicken smell) and tried to shoo him away from the chicken. The dog regarded me with his wounded bassety eyes and went back to his snack. I feigned anger and shooed him with increased vigor. He then scooped up the entire carcass in his chops, walked past me, and trotted toward his home. This was good because I was not 100% sure which house was his. I followed, and watched him walk right through an open gate and into the open door of a garden apartment in a house a few doors down.

The apartment door was wide open, which was weird. This is not a thing you see in Brooklyn, especially when no one seems to be around. I waited for the people inside to exhibit some sort of confusion--where did this chicken come from?--but there was silence.

I immediately assumed, as one does, that they were all dead. I was going to knock on the front door and call out, "Hello?" and peer in and then I would scream and WHAM cut to me being interviewed by two detectives, one of whom eyes the dog and says to the other, "That's one way to get take-out."

No thank you. I stood around for a few minutes, trying to figure out what to do, wondering why the dog would venture outside for food when surely he could feast on their corpses--we all know that's what our dogs are itching to do, afer all--when Scott walked up. He was walking Henry to school and he gently inquired as to what I was doing, as it appeared I was standing on the sidewalk with a confused look on my face. I explained the situation and he volunteered to be the one to spot their dead bodies (or I think he said he was going to "knock"), which he did--so brave!--but there was no answer. He agreed with me that they were all dead. Or maybe he said it was weird and we should call the police.

Which I did! And did you know? They were more interested in what the dog had in his mouth than anything else. "He had a what in his mouth?" the operator asked me more than once. "That is not the important part!" I said to her, but I don't think she was convinced.

I waited around and fully expected some wise-cracking detectives to come to my door that day, but none did. I heard no sirens. Not even a police radio. I walked by and the door was closed, which was good, I guess? It was all terribly disappointing. Of course I didn't want them to be dead but someone could at least have filled me in. Me, the dog saver!

Yesterday I ran into the man who always walks the dog, and we exchanged hellos and our dogs were like "durrrh" and that was that. His arm was in a cast (mysterious!) but otherwise seemed fine. I considered asking what happened, but really, why would I be asking? Out of concern? Of course not. At this point I'm only DYING TO KNOW what happened. Also how would I start that conversation? "Say, did you notice your dog eating some Mystery Chicken? Heh heh, I suppose I'm to blame! Or maybe take the credit!" Too weird, even for me.

Reader Comments (38)

I love this story. Love it. many questions...

What happened to his arm?
Who shut the door?
Why was it even open in the first place?
Can the dog open the door? That would be pretty cool.
Whose chicken was it and do they need me to send them a cookbook?
And most importantly, Why didn't some Law & Order detectives show up? How disappointing for you!

October 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterHeather

OK, now you just have to find out what happened. And tell us!

October 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLovy Jones

I don't think I can! I feel like it's too intrusive. Is that insane? It might be!

I think we need to weigh in with our theories, and then I'll try and find out more. WHAT HAPPENED, guys? Tell me!

October 17, 2012 | Unregistered Commenteralice

I'm really afraid I need you to ask the man about this. I can't be left in suspense!

October 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKate

This story is killing me, Alice. I didn't need to want to know something so much. I also think detectives should have to take a course in "pithy one-liners" as part of their promotion process.

October 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJessica

I am in suspense about those people's house/door being open! Love your stories.

October 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJes

I, too, am disappointed about the lack of curiosity and enthusiasm displayed by the operator. Total killjoy.

This sounds like a scene from a Lifetime movie, if you ask me. You, the concerned neighbor, happened upon a situation involving any of these characters: a) a mother of a high school cheerleader, b) a father/nubile nanny combo, c) a patient-obsessed doctor (psychiatrist, preferably), and/or d) a very elegant but secretly homicidal grandmother.

Okay, in real life someone just did not get the door latched properly. Maybe the man with the broken arm is having trouble closing it. A dog with a chicken carcass may not have impressed him if he were absorbed with his broken-arm pain. Or maybe he slipped on the chicken carcass and broke his arm after failing to close the door properly. I don't know...

October 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJen

my god, you are funny!

October 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJaye McLaughlin

I love that this was all first thing in the morning. Very curious...

October 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMartha

Obviously, the guy broke his arm when the chicken fell out of the soup pot and he slipped on it. Which caused the chicken to be launched out the door and land in the trash. He sent his trusty dog outside to bring the chicken back. He was going to need some chicken soup to get his newly-broken arm better. The End.

October 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTabatha

Chicken part's easy. He bought two because they were on sale but once he got home and unwrapped them, ready to make soup with one, cut and fry the other, he realized one smelled (DAMN YOU, SAFEWAY!). So, he threw it out because he's afraid salmonella will kill him. He'd gotten undressed because he cooks while nude but he threw on shorts and tried to put the trash farther down the street so that his dog would not get into it. But, the dog followed him. He didn't know. When he turned, he tripped over the dog and tried to brace the fall with his arm. Once he realized he'd done something nasty to his arm, he dragged the dog, with the other arm, back home, closing the door with his foot but it didn't latch. He's been meaning to fix that. As he went into the back room to get dressed and call urgent care or his significant other -- because you'll never believe my morning! -- or both, the dog saw the door slightly ajar and made a break for the chicken. The man decides to head to the ER, but he needs to get dressed. This is hard to do one-handed without practice. He is half naked when he hears Scott call out. He sees the dog in the corner with the bad chicken and realizes he can't respond lest you both think him weird for being undressed with a dog eating a chicken. He is too embarrassed to explain when he sees you next.

October 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterArnebya

Except the chicken was cooked. COOKED!

October 18, 2012 | Registered CommenterAlice

Why wouldn't you ask, silly girl? He's your neighbor. You see him every day. You were concerned enough to call the police over his open door (which, being wonderfully neighborly, you noticed and did something about). Quit being a weeny and ask.

October 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAndrea

I know! He was painting something and fell off a ladder and broke his arm (why painting so early in the morning? He is a very industrious man, that's why). While in pain and slightly panicked, he rushed off to the ER forgetting to close the door. The dog, who had been snoozing on the couch, woke up about 20 minutes later, saw the door open and went for out for a nice jaunt.

I know this because I did it once in college, minus the dog and the industriousness. I cut the bejesus about of my finger and ran off to get stitches, forgetting to close the door. My roommates came home to find the door wide open and blood everywhere. That was nice of me.

October 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKim

Come On People!

The man heard the dog whining early in the morning and went to investigate.

He surprised an intruder attempting to remove a package that he had hidden inside a leftover chicken in the refrigerator. A brutal fight ensued during which the man's arm was broken and he fell hitting is head losing consciousness. Needing to make a hasty exit, the intruder grabbed the chicken still containing its hidden package of (drugs/diamonds/a computer memory stick), wrapping the bird in a newspaper and placing the entire thing into the kitchen garbage bag, he made his escape. The garbage bag was left at the curb so as not to attract undue attention during the intruder's flight. The intruder fully intended to collect the chicken later either in person or using one of his (hired thugs/innocent looking operatives/a contact in the local garbage collection service).

The injured man, regaining consciousness slightly, said to the dog, "Go get it, boy!" and the dog complied retrieving the chicken from the garbage bag at the curb. By this time the man could hear neighbors on the sidewalk outside the house and taking both the dog and the chicken, hid in a hall closet among coats and snow boots.

After the concerned, but nosy neighbors left, the man quickly left the house with the chicken and went to his contact (at the FBI/in the KGB/in a national crime syndicate) who was waiting anxiously for delivery of the package.

After that he went to an urgent care to have his arm set, telling them that he had tripped on a curb in the dark while trying to get his dog out of a garbage bag.

Should you ask, "tripped on a curb" is the story that you will hear because a (man undercover/dangerous enemy spy/notorious smuggler) just can't be honest with his neighbors.

October 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterChristie Critters

OH my GOD! You have to ask what happened! Let's role play:

You: (knock knock)

Neighbor answers the door: Hello? (voice surprised yet curious)

You: Hi, I'm Alice. I live up the block? I was walking my dog Charlie the other morning, and I noticed your dog was having a little party with a chicken carcass up the street. I escorted him home, and I just wanted to make sure he was OK.

Neighbor: Oh, that was you? Thank you so much for looking out for him. We wondered where that chicken came from! I have to tell you, it made some great soup!

You: Ergh...?

Ok, maybe I'm not so good at role play. (Thought I think "ergh" is totally something Alice Bradley would say....)

October 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJennifer

I have solved many a neighborhood mystery (okay, maybe only two) by consulting the weekly Sheriff's Blotter in our little town newspaper. Is Brooklyn a small town with a wimpy local paper that includes the police's greatest hits (not the band)?

October 18, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterdgm

That is sooo New Yorker! Down south, here, someone would have barged right in and gotten all the details right there on the spot. Then if it were remotely interesting, probably made the local newspaper. :-)

October 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSandy Shoes

Oh, dgm, that is EXACTLY what I am talking about. I was typing my post and didn't see yours until I posted it!

October 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSandy Shoes

Once I walked past a stoop and noticed a black french bulldog sitting on it looking sad. I very nearly scooped it up and ran away with it. Several times. But then I went up and rang the bell and a guy came downstairs who knew whose it was (it was a first story resident).

I should have stoled it.

October 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMKP

DGM and Sandy: I totally checked the local police blotter, and there was nothing. Also, reading the police blotter for the first time was pretty horrifying. Note to self: never again.

Now I think I'll never ask because I'm enjoying all your theories way too much. Also MAYBE I AM A WEENIE. The guy's a little weird! What if he curses at me! I don't know!

October 18, 2012 | Registered CommenterAlice

LOVED this story.
Keep us posted on any updates...does your nearby area have a neighborhood snoop? You know, someone who always has the latest on everyone on the block? I know...NY...people keep to themselves a lot...

October 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAngela

Which came first, the chicken or the yegg?

Oh, how I miss NY ... the perfect balance of not intruding and looking out for.

October 18, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterdianne

It sounds like the makings of a Nancy Drew mystery to me... "The case of the cooked chicken, rogue dog and open door", me being Nancy, and you being George. Of course.

October 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTania D

So Lynchian - the utter normalcy of the opening scene, bizarre things unfolding, but just bizarre enough to keep you wondering if your assessment of the situation is accurate, or if you're the crazy one. No other neighbors puzzling with you over the situation, no fire trucks or ambulances, no follow up phone calls. And then the normal-made-bizarre passing of the neighbor a few days later, just enough to let you know that a) he's not dead, and b) what's the big deal here? Just a wide open front door and a chicken-carcass-carrying lone dog! Jeepers, lady. Just leave me alone to my sacrificial rites and fancy dog training techniques!

October 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCheryl

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