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We all have Thanksgiving memories that are close to our hearts. Memories of going to Grandma and Grandpa's house, the scent of freshly baked pies, the turkey roasting in the oven.
As a child of older parents growing up in Colorado, my mom and dad never really liked the cold. After my father's retirement, they became "snowbirds" and moved to Arizona. With my three brothers living in different states, I was a young adult on my own, so I was very excited when my boyfriend at the time asked me to join his parents for Thanksgiving.
The company he was working for gave their employees a turkey for Thanksgiving, usually distributing them the Friday before the holiday. Planning to share this wonderful bird with his family, my boyfriend placed the frozen 16-pound turkey in a spare refrigerator located in a laundry room in the lower level of his townhouse.
Being a single guy, he shared his townhouse with his dog, a 3-year-old collie named Lady. Not having a backyard at the his place, Lady spent the time that my boyfriend was not home in the laundry room and garage areas.
As the days grew closer to Thanksgiving, we started to notice an odor emanating from the lower level of the house. Since the trash cans were in the garage, my boyfriend thought that maybe he had thrown away something that had gone bad and the smell would go away when he set out the trash on Tuesday morning.
Well, trash day came and went, but the odor became increasingly stronger. Returning home from work in the evening, he would leave the garage door cracked to air out the smell, thinking that during the upcoming four-day weekend he would have time to investigate the source of the offensive odor.
Thanksgiving morning arrived and my boyfriend went to the spare refrigerator to retrieve the turkey to take to his mother's house, where it was to be cooked for that evening's meal. As he opened the door to the laundry room, the source of the smell became readily apparent to him. Upon opening the refrigerator door, his suspicion was confirmed. The refrigerator had gone out, and the turkey had thawed and was now very warm. And rancid.
Without a second thought, he removed the bird from the now warm and putrid refrigerator, wrapped it in newspaper, double-wrapped it in trash bags and tossed it into the now empty trash cans in the garage. In a frantic phone call, he asked if I could please pick up a turkey on my way to his house. He said he would explain later what had happened to the one he already had.
After a wonderful, filling meal at his parents' house, we retuned to his townhouse to enjoy each other's company and to watch a movie. As he put the key in the lock and opened the door, we were overwhelmed with the stench of "very spoiled" turkey rushing out into the cold November air.
Following the aroma, we walked into the living room to find Lady enjoying her own thanksgiving picnic with the turkey that she had dug out of the trash. We quickly dragged the unwilling canine away from her feast to another room, where we proceeded again to dispose of the foul bird. After a brief period to air out the house â€” one more time â€” we settled on the sofa with Lady to enjoy our movie.
Probably there's nothing more distracting from a classic movie than a dog with "rotten turkey" breath. Feeling guilty for leaving her home alone for the whole afternoon, my boyfriend didn't have the heart to banish Lady to another room. So leading his canine companion to the bathroom, he opted instead for a mouthwash rinse, thinking it would mask the aroma. He reached into the medicine cabinet, grabbed a bottle of Lavoris and began to flush out her mouth.
Unfortunately, this particular mouthwash tends to foam. Within minutes, a tricolored collie ran into the living room foaming at the mouth and decidedly unhappy with her master.
It's a sight indelibly etched in memory.
Through the years I have shared this story with my now-adult children as they begin to make their own Thanksgiving memories. And just in case you're wondering, the boyfriend became my husband of 26 years, and Lady was a part of our family for 13 years, never suffering any ill effects from her Thanksgiving feast or her oral rinse.
Maribeth Bueche is news clerk for the Saline Courier.