Karen B. London
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Turkey Theft
My dog helped himself
Who, me? A turkey thief?

Years ago when I had my first dog, we visited my aunt for Thanksgiving. The roasting pan containing grease and a truly alarming amount of turkey skin was sitting unguarded in the kitchen while we feasted in the dining room. Suddenly a crashing sound in the kitchen alerted us to the fact that the dog was no longer lying in the dining room with us. Whoops.

Rushing into the kitchen, I immediately saw that my dog was not, as I had previously thought, a dog who would never take something off of the counter. He had not previously been a food thief, but clearly the temptation of the remains of a Thanksgiving turkey at precisely nose level was too much to resist.
To his credit, he had pulled the pan off the counter with such tremendous skill that he had managed to keep it upright so that only a little of the grease slopped out. In spite of myself, I took a moment to be impressed. And he had only eaten about half of the turkey skin by the time I got there and took the rest away, which made me less fearful of the health consequences of consuming large quantities of fat.
My aunt is very experienced with dogs and loves them very much, so she understands that dogs are natural scavengers and are likely to go for high quality food that’s so easy to reach. And we all acknowledged that we were lucky he took the leftovers and not the whole turkey when it was still in the pan. So, all in all, what could have been a dreadful situation was just a little blip. Have your dogs ever helped themselves to part of the Thanksgiving feast?



Karen B. London, PhD, is a Bark columnist and a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist specializing in the evaluation and treatment of serious behavior problems in the domestic dog.

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Submitted by Frances | November 24 2010 |

One Christmas in my parents' home all the meat (turkey, ham, beef) was stored in their large, cool, walk in pantry. There was a constant refrain of "Have you shut the pantry door?", and a large sign pinned to the door to remind everyone, as the cat watched her opportunity. As we belatedly made our way to bed on Christmas Eve their was a final check that yes, the door was closed. Unfortunately no one thought to check which side of it the cat was. Next morning we found a one legged turkey, and the cat curled up smiling in her sleep next to it.

Submitted by Miriam | November 25 2010 |

My dog (shepherd/collie mix) once ate a whole standing rib roast my mom had taken out of the oven and left on the counter to cool. She dragged the whole thing down two flights of stairs to the basement and hid under the basement stairs with it. She had a feast - we ate Chinese carry-out.

Submitted by Kay Stephenson | November 25 2010 |

My dog stole a pan off the counter just once - when she was still quite young the smell of some roasted marrow bones was just too much. Luckily the glass pan didn't break and I was in the kitchen before she had a chance to recover from her terror. The clatter scared the living daylights out of her. She concluded that "bad things happen when you pull good smelling stuff off the counter". She doesn't appear to ever have been tempted again. Nice that I was able to completely disassociate myself from that aversive lesson as I rushed in to save her from the bad thing :-)

Submitted by Heather | November 25 2010 |

My turkey thief was also feline. Teufel was normally very well-behaved, not a beggar and not jumping on counters, but she just couldn't resist fresh roasted turkey. She'd hang around the kitchen the entire day from the time preparations started, more patiently at first but more vocal as the day went on as she'd inquire about the status of *her* turkey dinner. We'd always give her some pieces as the bird was being carved, but more than once this sly and sneaky varmint in a sleek black satin tuxedo was caught stealing a snack off the unattended carcass while the family dined in the next room.

Submitted by Anne | November 26 2010 |

Reminds me of the case of the missing ham with my first ever foster dog! My roommate left a (cooked) ham on the countertop and went upstairs to talk to me. When we both came downstairs again, the ham had disappeared. No gory evidence trails, no guilty looking dog...no ham. We looked in the fridge (had she left it in there?), had she put it somewhere else? Still no ham! The only culprit could have been the dog. I have to admire his neatness, the perfect crime indeed.

He had the worst runs for a few days, but I imagine he thought it was worth it!

Submitted by Julia Kamysz Lane | November 26 2010 |

Our dogs and cats are too clever! Years ago when we lived out of state, my in-laws came to visit for Thanksgiving. My husband prepared quite the feast so as to impress them. I am a terrible cook, so my job was to make sure our four dogs and three cats behaved themselves since my in-laws are not animal lovers. We sat down to what started out as a nice, polite meal when my oldest Dalmatian, Darby, decided we were too busy talking and eating to notice her snatch a turkey leg from the roasting pan on the counter. Of course, total chaos ensued with the other dogs going into Bumpus hound mode and my mother-in-law screaming at the top of her lungs that Thanksgiving was ruined. I was mortified! My mother-in-law STILL talks about Darby and the turkey leg.

Submitted by Anonymous | November 28 2010 |

I was careful enough around the turkey but underestimated just how tempting ANY food is to my walking stomach of a dog... I was preparing the sides the day before and had just placed a home-baked carrot & orange loaf on the counter to cool when my mom called. I turned round to pick up the phone and in that split second Bilbo reached up to the counter and took a huge chunk out of it. Luckily I had enough time and spare ingredients to make a second but I watched VERY carefully over my very first Thanksgiving feast the next day!

Submitted by Kylee | November 30 2010 |

My dog, Boog is also a TURKEY THEIF! He is probably the most
sneeky little dog you would ever meet! I was amazed how he stuck
his snout into the turkey and slurp! Down it went! He ran with one
of the sausages and hid under the dining room table. And then, I heard
yet another gulp of food trickling down to his stomache, licking his lips.
So, now whenever we have food, we have to keep it out of sight from the trouble of The Terrier Terror!

Submitted by Diane | December 1 2010 |

My father came home at lunch one day and pulled the ham out of the refrigerator to make a ham sandwich. He looked around for the bread and couldn't find it. He was thinking "You don't think the dog . . .?" He went down into the basement, where the completely intact but empty bread wrapper was lying in the dog's bed. By the time he came back upstairs, the ham was now missing.

I came home to say hi before heading back to school from a class across town and as I walked in the back door, he was there roaring "What are you doing up here?" Scared me out of my mind, then I saw the dog race back downstairs, tail completely under her belly.

Dad probably went back to work still hungry, and the dog didn't come back upstairs for 24 hours.

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