Pet Stories is a regular Barkytech feature where writers share personal narratives about their pets’ experiences with pet technology. If you would like to share your story, please contact Barkytech’s editor.
Beagle in the Pantry
Pet owners often wonder what goes on when they leave the house. The Secret Life of Pets gave us a colorful and comedic glimpse of what a couple creative storytellers believe might take place, but unless barking and meowing is just an annoying cover for them actually being able to talk, the introduction of pet cameras has given us the real “Big Brother” view of what exactly happens when we leave our best friends home alone.
Let me tell you, nothing—NOTHING—could’ve prepared me for the shenanigans that my twelve-year-old beagle Roxy gets into when we head out for a few hours.
The intrigue began a few years ago. As our once-rambunctious baby girl grew into a mysteriously introverted old lady (counting in dog years here), we chalked it up to maturity or maybe a canine midlife crisis. We didn’t know for sure, but her frantic laps around the house turned into lingering side-eye glances as she claimed her ownership of the couch. And the recliner. And every bed in the house.
She established her kingdom, everything the light touches becoming hers. Oddly, the one place we never saw her go into was the pantry. I say odd because just like her owners, her food was in the pantry, naturally.
Then the disappearances began.
Slowly but surely, our supplies of Graham Crackers, saltines, granola bars, and other such crunchy treats began to diminish. Now, we’re a family of five. So at first, we just guilted each other for going a little too crazy with the late-night snacking. Yeah, I love me a good peanut butter Graham Cracker and a glass of milk for what I believe in my heart to be a healthy snack—don’t try to convince me otherwise—but I wasn’t devouring a sleeve a night. I could, and was sometimes tempted to, but I wasn’t.
A few days later I was halfway through a new Netflix binge when I felt a weird lump in the leather under my lazy butt. It’s a relatively old couch so at first, I was just annoyed and scooted over a bit—but curiosity got the best of me and I did some digging.
Lo and behold, the sleeve of missing Graham Crackers that had threatened to divide the household. I had never been more confused. Questions flooded my mind and my writer’s imagination went wild.
I wanted the Graham Cracker bandit to be some sort of paranormal entity messing with us for building a house over a burial ground, or my sister performing a social experiment to test the tensile strength of our once-tight family bond. But as the granola bars and full saltine sleeves began appearing in couch crevices and, the most incriminating, the uber-soft blanket that Roxy had overtaken long ago without a thought toward my midnight warmth, we pinpointed the culprit.
The most mind-boggling of this bizarre off-season Easter Egg hunt is that the stolen merchandise was never opened. It wasn’t like Roxy was neglected and dying of hunger. She’s arguably the most pampered and doted-on dog that I know. My dad makes sure of that. She’s a princess and she’s well aware of it. Like any spoiled brat she thinks she can get away with anything.
Was stopping this madness as simple as keeping the pantry door closed? Sure. But it wasn’t like Roxy was stealing and stashing every day.
It was so few and far between that we would all forget that it happened until a gently chewed but not eaten protein bar stuck you in the neck when you laid down on the couch. She knew the exact moment to execute the heist and we were none the wiser, but it was so entertaining that we just had to see it in action. We downloaded the free PetCam App and connected our iPhones.
How PetCam Caught the Thief
It took a while to catch her in the act. She’s so sneaky and smart that I think she felt the new eye-in-the-sky and laid low while we had surveillance out, as the most prolific criminals do. Let them forget about you, then strike. Fast-forward, no joke, EIGHT MONTHS without an incident.
My parents decided to build a new house a couple miles away. Once they officially moved in, Roxy resumed her reign of terror. I’m assuming it was her establishing dominance and ownership over my parents’ crispy new retirement house.
Lest we forget, she’s the boss. No new couch, no square foot of fresh hardwood floor belongs to her humans. It’s hers, along with everything in the pantry. This is also the point where she began to just straight up, leave the sleeves out in the open, laying on the carpet or tile.
There was even an entire UNOPENED box of Graham Crackers. She took it out, ripped open, and just took the sleeves out. In my mind, these are now just taunts. She knows she can get away with murder now and nothing is stopping her.
She’s still elusive when we set the PetCam up toward the pantry—I swear she knows what’s going on, but we caught her in the act once as you can see her adorable, devious face and some of the crime scene pictures here.
Maybe it’s boredom, maybe it’s a passive-aggressive way to tell us that she’d rather eat crackers than her own food, I’m not sure. All I know is, we’ve already pitched Roxy’s story to the Ocean’s 8 team for a possible pet-centric sequel. She’s just as captivating as any of the characters in that franchise, so maybe we can get some support with a fan Instagram account to make her famous. I’m thinking @HeistsByRoxy or something like that.
Any and all suggestions are welcome. I’ll leave you with the lesson we’ve learned through all of this: if you want to see your independent pet’s shenanigans when you leave the house, go get yourself a pet cam. Most can stream directly to an app on your phone and you can catch them in the act, have enough evidence to show in pet court.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go pitch “Pet Court” to CBS, it feels right up their alley.
About the Author
Tim Ogletree is a screenwriter and film producer from San Antonio,
Texas. After getting his degree in Radio-TV-Film from The University of
Texas at Austin, Tim began writing and producing independent films. He
lives and works in Los Angeles. You can find him on Twitter @timogle12
and on Instagram @timogletree
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