I am about to let the world in on a little secret. Big breath…. Okay … here goes. Sometimes … just sometimes … we let our dog lick the plates. ONLY because I have a dishwasher that will sterilize the plates … pretty much….
Ruby has long ears—most spaniels do—so I hate to put down plates that have messy things left on them. Left over spaghetti, for example, is out of the question. But she looks at us with those pleading, brown spaniel eyes that seem to say, “But you let me lick the plate last time. Why not this time?”
Finally, I can’t stand it anymore and I let her lick the plate. To avoid a big mess, I stand over her and hold up her ears so they won’t drag in the gravy.
“Hurry up, Ruby!” I tell her. “I don’t want to stand here all day while you lick the last morsel off the plate.” If only she could hold up her own ears. That got the wheels turning. If she can’t hold them up herself, I’d have to invent a way to hold them up. A big plastic clothespeg would do the trick perfectly for two reasons: her ears would stay clean and out of the food, and the clothespeg would no longer be holding closed the bag of potato chips and I could reach in for the occasional treat.
You may think it’s bad form to let the family dog lick the people’s plates. Dog saliva is a bit slimy, I admit. But if I were the only one who ever let my dog lick the dinner plates, the following story would not have had the intended results.
Sam and Susan Smith always had a substantial hot lunch at 12 o’clock, and then they would eat a light supper much later. Joe and Jean Johnson had only recently met the Smiths and happened to drop in on them at lunchtime. The meal was so good that it didn’t take long for the Johnsons to make a habit of showing up for unannounced visits, usually just before 12 o’clock.
The Smiths were getting a bit tired of feeding the Johnsons nearly every day but didn’t want to be rude, so Sam and Susan discussed their problem one evening and came up with a plan.
The next time Joe and Jean dropped in just in time for lunch, Susan fed them as usual, and everyone enjoyed a good meal. When Sam finished he set his plate on the floor where Woofy, their lab, licked up the leftovers.
Jean nudged Joe, who shrugged his shoulders. They said nothing, but their mouths fell open when Sam stood up and picked up his plate from the floor.
“Look at this, Susan,” Sam said. “Woofy sure does a good job, doesn’t he? He’s getting better, and it sure has been saving you a lot of work cleaning up.” And he opened the cupboard door and put the plate on top of the stack of clean dishes inside.
The Johnson never returned at lunchtime, or any other time.