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August 25th, 2010:

Dash and the Fruit Bowl Bomb Habit


All dogs have quirks, and Dash brought a new one into the house with him: When he’s done eating, he picks up his bowl and carries it around. He shows it to us, and if we don’t take it and re-fill it, he drops it from mouth height. When he was three months old (see photo above) he was closer to the floor, and the bowls sometimes survived. Now that his mouth is at adult bichon height, the bowls usually buy it.

In the photo above, Carol had just fed him, and he had bumbled into my office, standing in front of me with his bowl in his mouth, as if to say, “Please, sir, can I have some more?”

We feed the Pack out of a motley collection of small midlate 1950s fruit bowls, manufactured in an era when people ate less, particularly of the sort of fruit you got out of small cans in the 1950s. Such bowls are still made if not widely used, and we bought a couple of Corelle fruit bowls in our Shadow Iris pattern specifically for Pack meals. Supposedly they don’t break if dropped from modest heights. Dash hadn’t heard that, and when he dropped one, it exploded into dagger-like shards all over the kitchen. So the Corelle fruit bowls now await an era when we again embrace canned fruit cocktail (in heavy syrup.) They may wait awhile.

After we were married 34 years ago, Carol’s mom gave us a (mostly) complete set of Joni’s Dixie Dogwood tableware, and we used it for years as our everyday settings. A lot of it is gone now, having fallen from slippery hands at the sink or over the edge of the table, but because we rarely used the fruit bowls, we still had them until recently. That is, we still had them until Dash started dropping them.

He dropped another one yesterday, RIP (Rest In Pieces.)

The only bowls that are safe to give him are genuine Melmac, in our case Mallo-Ware, from Chicago’s now-extinct Mallory Plastics. Again, they came from Carol’s mom, and Carol used them when she was a kid. There are only two of the venerable #52 fruit bowls left, and both are usually in the dishwasher when another Pack meal time rolls around. I think there used to be more, but I don’t know where they went. Like all Melmac tableware they’re essentially indestructable, so they certainly didn’t break. I think I drilled and tapped one for a telescope attachment in the 80s. About the rest, clueless.

Even when the two Mallo-Ware bowls are clean, the problem is that we have four dogs, and after Dash scours out his own bowl, he will go hunting for other bowls to scour. The last one he finds gets carried around, and if it’s a Dixie Dogwood bowl, it’s soon off to rejoin Joni in Crockery Heaven.

So I slid over to eBay yesterday in search of more Melmac fruit bowls, to find that Mallo-Ware has become collectible. Used #52 fruit bowls now go for three bucks each…and up. I searched and grumbled until I found a pack of ten beat-to-hell pastel bowls for $25. That will certainly do the job, but…collectible Melmac? I hear Alf giggling somewhere.

I guess “collectible” is relative, and cyclical. As best I can tell, Melmac tableware was invented to prove to my Aunt Josephine that depression glass wasn’t so bad after all. Alas, Aunt Josephine didn’t get the message. She’d gathered an impressive set of iridescent orange depression glass while a teenager and used it well into the Fifties, but when Melmac came along, her depression glass was relegated to the kids table (and nobody got chewed out if it broke) with the adults dining on indestructable pastel plastic. To my aunt, depression glass was an emblem of poverty, whereas Melmac was totally Space-Age. Eventually the glass all went into the trash, which I suspect my cousins are now regretting.

There’s no real point to this essay other than a reminder that dogs are unpredictable. Mr. Byte used to chew up computer books, but only computer books. Chewy would dance on his toes for…peas. Jack will not eat raw meat, and will pick out the rice or the vegetables and leave the meat for Dash. QBit steals Carol’s ponytail Scruncis and hides them under the pillow in his kennel. I’m not sure these are mutant instincts, but they’re certainly not anything we taught them, and remain the best evidence I could cite that Behaviorism is really quite sincerely dead!