The Case of the Broken Bowl

So here are the facts of the case:

My husband and I went to pinball league last night, leaving three dogs home alone at the house.

Two of the dogs, Chance and Kaylee, are 10-year-old Jack Russels who are old pros at this staying at home by themselves thing.

Chance, a 10-year-old 12-pound Jack Russel Terrier 

The third one, Myka, is a 12-week-old Jack Russel and this was the first time we were leaving her home alone for more than a half hour. She’s not crate trained yet, which is to say she has a crate and she eats in it but most of the time she has a penned-in area of the kitchen that we’ve puppy proofed.

Myka, a 12-week-old 8-pound (maybe) Jack Russel Terrier puppy

At least, we thought we had.

The kitchen is a long room divided in half by a counter that juts into the room. If a counter that isn’t connected to any part of the walls is an island, this is a peninsula. The dogs generally inhabit the “eat-in nook” on the left side of the counter, and the cooking portion of the counter is on the right side. That night, the counter contained everything from house plants and a 3-gallon fish tank to dirty dishes, a plastic bowl that had contained fried chicken, and various other kitchen implements. They were all well away from the edge of the counter — not that it mattered much, because it had been proven for many years that none of the terriers could reach counter height on a bet.

When we arrived home after roughly 3 hours away, we found the remains of 1 broken bowl, shattered all over the cooking area of the kitchen. It looked as if it had fallen from the corner where the counter became a peninsula.

On the other side of the peninsula, a camping light, a Venus flytrap, and a few other odds and ends had been knocked off of a high table behind the counter.

All 3 dogs were where we had left them: the older two with run of the house (except the penned-in area of the kitchen) and the youngest in the pen.

This, then, became the mystery. How did all of these things get dislodged or broken when they were well out of any dog’s reach? And why weren’t the rest of the items cleared off the counter?  And who had done it, if all the dogs were where they belonged?

Our first suspect was a mouse, because we’ve had them before. But it didn’t add up. Mice are more careful. I’ve lived in houses with mice most of my life (the results of backing up to farm fields or schools) and while they’ll defecate on anything, they generally don’t knock things over because that gets attention.

Anything bigger than a mouse was suspect because Chance is a hunter. If there’s an animal in the house, he’ll spend hours attempting to hunt it (including staring at walls in the kitchen, in the case of the mice). So if it was bigger than a mouse, he wouldn’t have greeted us at the door because he would’ve been much too busy hunting the thing.

So what then? A small earthquake?

While I was pulling up the USGS Earthquake Map on my phone and trying to stuff the Venus flytrap back into its pot (which didn’t work), I glanced down at my feet.

Over the past few days, Myka had discovered she could knock over the bird seed bins. Not a big surprise, since they were empty. I didn’t even think about them when I came in the door, because I expected the little whirling dervish would knock them over again.

Then I realized that she’d knocked it over in just such a way that it made a ramp up to the next food container in the row.

Folks, we have a climber.

Here’s how we think the crime went down. Myka knocked over the food container, climbed up its side, jumped onto the dog food container, then used that to climb up onto the table. I’m actually grateful she didn’t just tear the puppy food bag off the dog food container and chow down; on the other hand, my Venus flytrap might still be alive.

Anyway, once on the black table, she would’ve kicked the lantern over, knocked over some other things we found on the floor, and made her way up onto the counter.

I’m pretty sure she tried to taste test the flytrap, because she’s Myka.

I’m also 100% sure that Chance was going out of his damned mind at this total breach of dog etiquette and was probably raising hell at the base of the counter.

But once Myka knocked the bowl off the counter, she would’ve scared herself into climbing back down the way she came, which is why we found everyone where they belonged.

The kitchen counter, from the peninsula end. Bird food containers are now outside of it.

To test this theory, we’ve moved the food containers and raised everything Myka could reach before even higher up out of her reach.

Wish us luck. Because the perp isn’t showing any signs of regret.

Myka, lying down behind the gate that keeps her contained in the kitchen.