After he had 12 ear infections in three years, I finally decided the time had come to take our youngest to a specialist. Of course this visit wasn’t covered by insurance and it cost an obscene amount of money to determine that there was nothing wrong with his ear drums or his ear canals or anything even remotely ear-related. The problem, it seemed, was allergies. And the solution was … to change his dog food.

“You’re telling me the dog is getting ear infections because he’s allergic to his food???” my husband asked incredulously.

“Yes.”

“And the person who told you this is a Dog Allergist?”

“That’s right,” I said.

“And I paid actual money for us to find this out?”

“Lots of it,” I responded.

He sighed and glared at the dog. The dog wagged his tail and then burped.

“There’s a special hypoallergenic food we have to feed him and he can’t eat anything except that food,” I explained.

“I’ll make sure not to give him anymore Twinkies,” said my husband.

The next day I went out and bought a bag of the new dog food. Apparently the main ingredient was gold, because it was 10 times as expensive as his old stuff. For a week we transitioned him from the old chow to the gold chow and all was well. But then one night as my husband and I watched TV and the dog lay snoring on the rug, an odor wafted up at us that singed my nose hairs and made my eyes burn and water.

My husband and I looked at each other in horror and then looked down at the dog. He didn’t twitch. He didn’t utter a sound. Not one piece of fur on his prone body moved. And yet we knew immediately that the smell that had filled the room and made my ficus plant drop all its leaves to the floor in sudden death had undeniably come from the dog. It was, without a doubt, the worst thing I’d ever smelled, and coming from someone from New Jersey, that’s saying a lot.

“What’s in the new food you’re feeding him,” my husband asked through the pillow he held in front of his face.

“Rotten eggs and dead fish, apparently,” I said through my own pillow.

“You have to switch his food,” said my husband desperately.

“We can’t,” I protested. “The doctor said the dog can’t eat anything but this stuff for 12 weeks to see if it helps his ears.”

“It won’t help his ears if we suffocate to death and can’t feed him,” said my husband.

Ultimately we decided to stick with the plan. The dog ate only the gold chow and my husband and I invested in some army surplus gas masks to help us survive the noxious odor assaults.

We all suffered through for two months. Eventually, though, it was the dog who revolted. One morning we came downstairs to find the entire contents of our kitchen garbage strewn across three rooms. There were wrappers, jars, and shreds of paper everywhere, but not a crumb of food in sight. In the middle of the mess lay the dog in a sated heap. The only evidence of anything edible remaining was the telltale coffee grinds on the end of the dog’s nose.

“Oh no! The dog ate the entire bag of garbage,” I moaned. “I hope it doesn’t make him sick.”

My husband sniffed the air. “It could only help.”

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