Monday, March 2, 2009

Exercise 2: The Dog That Laid Eggs

Everything was pretty routine around here until the dog started laying eggs.
I know what you’re going to say: “That’s impossible!” Yeah. That’s what I thought, too. After all, I’d had Sadie spayed when she was six months old in order to avoid just such accidents.
Well, not this sort of accident. You can’t blame me for not imagining she’d be able to lay eggs, but you’d think that when the vet spayed her, she would have noticed something different about Sadie’s insides. Apparently not.
It wasn’t quite spring when I found the first egg on the couch. I didn’t exactly find it. I sat on it. It was mid-afternoon, and I was going to watch a movie and work on a scarf I was knitting for my son’s girl friend. I sat down, and felt this strange, large lump back at the edge of my butt. I reached down to pick it up, and came up with the egg.
It was a little larger than a chicken egg, and the shell was a pale brown with dark brown mottling. Great camouflage colors, which is why I didn’t see it before I sat down.
I held it up, balanced on the tips of my fingers, and asked the unavoidable question: What?
What is this egg doing here and where did it come from? I looked at Sadie, our large chocolate Labrador retriever. She was sleeping peacefully on the other end of the couch, her head propped up on a pillow. I could believe that she was the one who had put the egg on the couch, but I didn’t know where she got it.
I took the egg to the kitchen and rinsed it off, and put it into the refrigerator. That night when my husband came home I showed it to him. We agreed that it was a large and handsome egg, but we couldn’t figure out what kind of egg it was, or where Sadie might have cadged it so she could bring it home and bury it in the couch. We both looked at her, each of us with many unanswered questions inside. She perked up when we made eye contact, and wagged her tail, waiting expectantly for whatever good thing we were going to do for her. Treat? Dinner? Petting? She was up for the full array of evening family bonding.
We were more than a little worried, of course. If Sadie was stealing eggs somewhere, no matter that she brought them home without a scratch, she was raiding someone’s nest, and if the fowl laying the eggs was some domestic creature, property of one of our neighbors, they would be well within their rights to shoot Sadie. That was the scary part.
Like most dog owners we couldn’t believe our sweet Sadie was raiding someone’s, well, not chicken, but some kind of creature coop. Perhaps it was some wild nest she’d found. Or perhaps the egg had fallen from a tree, and Sadie had found it on the forest floor.
There was nothing to do at that point but say, “Huh,” and put the egg in the refrigerator.
The next morning, out of curiosity, I decided to see what the egg tasted like. I broke it open into a bowl. There was nothing unusual about it. It had a deep goldenrod-colored yoke that stood up high. So, freshly laid, I thought, where ever she found it, whatever species it came from.
I heated a little oil in a pan and slipped the egg in to fry. As I said, it was larger than a chicken egg, so it made a large fried egg. Beautiful, too, with that big firm, fresh yoke.
When I slipped it onto the plate, I had another frightening thought. What if this is a bald eagle egg? Isn’t it illegal to harm bald eagles and their eggs? What do eagle eggs look like?
A quick trip to my computer relieved my worries on that score. The eggs of the North American bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus, “sea eagle” “white headed”) are six to eight centimeters long, and the shell is white.
I sat down to my fried egg with a sense of relief, and took a tentative taste of the white.
Yuck. The egg tasted, well, doggy. That was the word that came to mind. You know the smell of a wet dog? That’s what that egg tasted like. Ech. I put it into Sadie’s bowl.
She sniffed it, and then looked at me with large sad eyes. Accusing eyes. If she could have spoken, she would have said, “How could you?” And she walked away without touching the egg, and didn’t seem to want to have anything to do with me for the rest of the day.
That evening I found the second egg on the couch.