Susan hummed to herself as she set the oven to preheat for Bailey's birthday surprise. OK, so maybe it wasn't going to be much of a surprise with her sitting there watching, but it's the thought that counts, right? She paused in her preparations to lean over and give the black and tan German shepherd a scratch behind its silky soft ears. Bailey panted and thumped her tail against the floor, always eager for more attention.
Susan thought about her while she greased the cake tin. Ten was a big year for a dog, especially one of Bailey's size. She had been such a good friend for all their years together, it was hard to imagine that someday soon they would be parted prematurely. She couldn't ignore the ever-thickening sprinkling of white hairs that graced the dog's dark muzzle.
No, this is too depressing, she told herself, think of something else. Anything else.
The cake. If she could just focus on that it would drive all those unwanted thoughts away. She looked at the dog birthday cake recipe again.
Take 350 g (12 oz) of beef and mince.
Susan pulled yesterday's fresh purchase from the refrigerator and attacked with the knife. The smell of beef hung heavy in the kitchen. Bailey licked her chops and watched Susan's hands closely for any sign of clumsiness that would lead to a free treat. When the meat was finely chopped Susan paused to savor its mouth-watering scent before moving on to the next step. She silently scolded herself for having the sense to do this on an empty stomach before dinner.
Puree beef in blender along with 4 eggs and ½ cup corn oil.
When the mixture was finished being ground into a fine mush it looked rather disgusting, but she couldn't help but notice that the raw eggs added a certain something to the smell. She had never tried a raw egg before, but Bailey enjoyed them when she got them to improve the health of her coat. Somehow, when added to the beef, the eggs provided an extra richness that just screamed "delicious protein-y goodness here!" Her stomach growled fiercely. Trying to ignore the feeling, she looked at the recipe again.
Add ½ cup grated carrot and blend until thoroughly mixed.
Susan went to the refrigerator for a carrot. When she returned Bailey had her paws up on the counter and she was sniffing enthusiastically at the aromatic scent wafting from the blender. Susan laughed and patted her on the head. Bailey got down immediately. She knew she wasn't supposed to be stealing food from countertops.
"Oh, you be a good girl Bailey. This isn't for until after dinner. You can wait, I know you can."
The only question is, she wondered, can I?
Almost there. Next there was the carrot. She pondered this for a moment before continuing. She had never tried to make one of these special dog birthday cakes before, and she had been surprised to see that the recipe included vegetables. Why on earth would they do that? Did dogs actually like carrots? She chopped off a small piece and tossed it to Bailey. After giving the strange orange lump a quick sniff, Bailey gave her a look that could only mean, Thanks, but I'll pass.
Susan nodded approvingly.
Just what I thought. You can't stand the nasty veggies either, can you? Oh well, won't hurt to leave them out.
She turned to the recipe again, skipping over the sections that talked about adding vegetables.
Mix 1 cup flour, ½ teaspoon baking powder, and ½ cup oatmeal in large mixing bowl. Stir in blended mixture.
She mixed up the dry ingredients, relieved that it was almost time to put the cake in the oven and see to her own dinner. She tilted the blender over the bowl, but the mixture was thick and wouldn't come out. She got a large spoon and dug in, ready to scoop it all out. She hesitated.
The spoon was in her mouth before she knew what she was doing. The smell was wonderful, but it was nothing compared to the taste. So rich, so meaty. She closed her eyes and savored it as she licked the spoon clean. A tiny voice inside her head tried to remind her of a little thing known as "self control," but by now she was long gone, lost in the ecstasy of the experience.
She dropped the spoon and went straight for the blender. She buried her face in the small opening, licking up all of the delicious paste that she could reach. Time seemed to stand still as she worked at it. Her several minutes of pleasure were interrupted when she heard a long, sad whine coming from behind.
Everything rushed back into focus. She was in the kitchen. Baking a cake. For Bailey. What was wrong with Bailey?
She looked down at the dog. Wide brown eyes and droopy ears met her confused gaze. She tried to gather her wits and figure out what had happened. The feeling of fullness, that meaty taste in her mouth. Uh oh
The blender was in her hands. She set it down on the counter and picked up a large spoon that she had apparently dropped earlier. The silvery convex surface told her all she need to know.
A sigh escaped her lips as she took a washcloth from a drawer and wiped the little flecks of meat from the white fur of her muzzle. When she was all cleaned up she closed her golden yellow eyes and focused on reversing the Change. Fur disappeared, pointy canine teeth resumed their delicate shape, and the long muzzle shrank back to reveal a human face once more. This was precisely why she hated dining out. When you have such a powerful sense of smell food just tastes so good, and if food tastes too good
well, she just had to make sure she was careful in public.
Bailey sniffed at the washcloth that hung limply from her hand. Susan felt simply awful. She had eaten it all up. There was nothing left for her beloved dog. She would have to cancel tonight's birthday celebration. She wondered if Bailey understood, if she was upset with her. Susan knelt down and wrapped her arms around the old dog's neck.
"I'm so sorry girl. I don't know what's wrong with me, with how I get around food. I wish I had better control over it. Do you forgive me?"
Bailey whined softly and licked her cheek. Maybe it was simply the fact that she had just spend the last few minutes with her face buried in a smelly meat-and-egg paste, but she liked to think that it was something more. She smiled and hugged the dog closer to her.
"Thanks. I love you too, girl."