The Case of the Blue Foil Wrappers

I awoke to find my mother standing over me, hands on her hips. Even half-asleep, I could see that she was wearing the face usually reserved for when I’d done something…questionable.

“What?” I said defensively. “I haven’t had time to do anything yet.”

She held up a blue foil wrapper belonging to my favorite rice-crispy treats. “Danny, this is the third one of these that I’ve found left on the couch this week,” she scolded. “How many times have I told you to throw your trash away?” While the honest answer to this question was “too many times to count, Mom,” I figured that silence might serve me better since, this time, I really hadn’t done it. I arranged my face into what I hoped was an innocent expression.

She sighed. “Hurry up and get dressed. Breakfast is on the table. Don’t forget to let Jack out before you leave for school.”

Jack was my lovable, dopey, and rather chubby beagle. “C’mon, Jack!” I called. “Outside!” He grunted. I shook his box of snacks and whistled. Nothing ever motivated Jack quite like food. He jumped off the couch and bounded towards me as I opened the door to let him in the backyard. I looked back over at the couch, and saw a glint of blue against the chocolaty-brown cushions. Stuffing my toast in my mouth, I went over to investigate. “Mom!” I yelled. “I bet it was Jack!”

I could almost hear her rolling her eyes. “You blame that dog for everything,” she called. “He’s not smart enough!”

She had a point…well, two points really, but I’d often wondered whether Jack was really a lot smarter than he looked. I needed to get proof, though. My eyes fell on the small spy camera I’d gotten for my last birthday. Genius, I thought. I whistled for Jack, and he ambled towards me. I knelt next to him, and fastened the camera to his collar. “Dude, eat a breath mint or something,” I muttered as he contentedly panted in my face. I headed off for school, daydreaming about what I might find on the camera when I got home.

Jack was a wriggling mass of excitement when I rushed inside later that day. I pushed him into a sitting position and removed the camera from his collar with some difficulty. As I plugged it into my computer, I looked down at him, and his tail thumped in response. “You’re so busted,” I told him. I began to play the video diary of my dog’s day. I fast-forwarded through some grainy footage of Jack snoring, drinking out of the toilet, and wandering into the kitchen. I saw a chair come into focus, my dog’s feet on the counter, and the box of rice crispy treats. “Mom! I told you,” I exulted. I rewound the video to the chair segment, and together we watched as Jack climbed onto the counter, took a treat from the box, and ate it on the couch, leaving the wrapper behind.

Mom looked down at Jack. He grinned unrepentantly. “Reform school,” she said, but she was laughing.

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