White Dog came into the office to let me know that Michael was home. He had stopped to do his weekly grocery shopping before his first class and came back to drop off his supplies. I heard him call a greeting and drop the heavy box on the kitchen floor. I assumed that he was making an inventory list, as is his routine as he puts things away.
My "momma sense" was tingling BEFORE I heard his "NO! Drop it!" and I rushed out to discover some of the White Ones had done their own shopping...from his box. Puff and Nuka were gnawing on chicken and the ripped open tray still invited YoYoMa's participation. He followed me out of the office and was not adverse to a nice snack. I pushed his nose away and as I sent him into the living room he snaged part of Nuka's piece. Quinn was tugging with Michael over a loaf of bread. And the White Dog, who I thought above such petty thievery, was hunkered in the corner of the couch hoarding a pack of hot dogs. Oso, now called The Saint, slept through it all in the office.
I shooed the WDA out of the kitchen and put the gate across the door so Michael could salvage what was possible. WD rolled a lip and growled when I reached for the franks, and I was forced to use the "momma look." She promptly dropped her treasure then led the others quickly out to the yard.
Poor Michael was in meltdown mode. He was mad. He was frustrated. He was panicking because his food budget is tight and the Army had just but a big dent in things. We washed off and repackaged the untouched meats. Quinn had not ripped the bread open so the loaf was mushed but intact.
"What happened?" I asked in my calmest voice as I wondered how the WDA had gotten around his unpacking. "I started to unpack and then I had to go to the bathroom. Everything was in bags and packages I didn't think the dogs would dig through the box. And I came back up from my room to find this! That was like 20 meals they ate!" I soothed him and pointed out that he had lost only three chicken breasts and two hotdogs so it was as bad as he feared. "They will pay to replace what they ate from their treat allowance," I promised. Looking sternly into the living room where the Terrible Troupe had quietly regrouped, I addressed them. "You should all be ashamed of being such opportunists. There will be NO duck jerky today and I expect each of you to apologize to Michael! What you all did was MEAN!"
White Dog knew what that meant and went over to where Michael still sat on the kitchen floor. She laid down in front of him and hung her head. Then she looked up, "Woof?" Michael talked to her about the evils of stealing and how she had hurt him then he forgave her with a soft pat to the head. In their own ways each of the others asked Michael for forgiveness, which he granted.
Then they looked at me. "Thank you for your apologies, but you are still not getting jerky today." As they sighed and wandered off to find thinking spots, Michael asked me, "Do you think they understood what I said and learned their lesson?"
"Next time, if you need to leave your food, call me to come out or put your box on the counter. They did not mean to steal from you, they were just taking advantage of what they saw as a GREAT present. Notice NOBODY touched your radishes!"