Ed Levine's Serious Diet, Week 80: Remembering Our Serious Eater Beagle Brass
"The only thing that stopped him from opening the fridge was his lack of an opposable thumb."
We had to put our 15 year-old beagle Brass to sleep yesterday. He was getting sicker and sicker, and weaker and weaker, and when Will, Vicky, and I arrived at our vet's office yesterday, she told us that it was time. The three of us had already arrived at that conclusion as a family even before we arrived at Dr. Brown's office.
Why? Because Brass, a serious eater if there ever was one, had stopped eating and drinking. He hadn't eaten anything for three days. The only way Vicky and Will could get some liquid into him was by spoon-feeding him water.
How could this be? How much of a serious eater was Brass? Well, some of you might remember this photo of Brass doing the dishes at our friends' house in Connecticut. Brass obviously hated to see one single morsel of seriously delicious food go to waste, so he became the first dog we had ever seen volunteer to do the dishes. Now that's what I call a considerate and well-trained dog-cum-house-guest. But Brass had exhibited serious eater tendencies long before he started doing the dishes, like when he visited the Serious Eats offices.
Brass should have performed some of his food-oriented stupid pet tricks on Letterman to show the world just what kind of serious eater he was.
He could go up and over like a dolphin in pursuit of something seriously delicious. No matter what kitchen counter we put food on, it was not safe from Brass. Only the closed oven and the top of the fridge were Brass-free zones, and the only thing that stopped him from opening the fridge was his lack of an opposable thumb.
Though Brass was a wonderfully gentle, child-friendly dog (one sweet little boy in our building would sometimes visit him thrice-weekly after school for play dates) no food a child was clutching was safe from Brass. When Brass was three or four--in his serious eating prime--Vicky was walking him to the bank. She and Brass passed a little boy in a stroller chomping contentedly on a bagel. In a flash, without making a sound, Brass took the bagel out of the little boy's hands with his teeth. He did this so quickly the little boy's mother didn't see it.
The little boy started crying, and his mom couldn't figure out why. Vicky had to explain to her what had happened and offered to repay her for the bagel.
When I first encountered Ed Levine's beagle, Brass, he had lumbered from the kitchen of Ed's apartment into the living room, drawn by the scent of pizza dinner at an early Serious Eats planning session. Ed immediately warned us all to watch that dog like a hawk. As far as Brass is concerned, that slice of pizza on your plate is his. Brass's strategy: Disarm with a deceptively slow pace, bide time until victim's guard is down, strike like lightning to take what's rightfully his. The night I met him, someone (no, not me) ignored Ed's warning, and Brass scored a prime corner slice of a grandma pizza from New Pizza Town.
Thanksgiving is of course any serious eaters' favorite holiday, and Brass was no exception. Most Thanksgivings in our house ended with Brass leaping up onto the center of the dining room table and devouring one of the many pies I had carefully gathered from around the city. At that moment he became the ultimate Thanksgiving table centerpiece. Who needs flowers? I'm not sure our guests appreciated Brass' skill and prowess, but I for one was incredibly proud. Brass was one hell of a serious eater.
It's going to be a lot easier seriously eating in our house now that Brass is no longer with us, but that doesn't make losing him any less difficult. Big-hearted Brass was a constant, joyous, life-affirming presence in our lives for fifteen years. We loved him madly and he loved us right back every single moment he was with us.
As all serious eaters can well imagine, we've been consumed with Brass this past week, so much so that I forgot to weigh myself one day. Let's see where I ended up. 213. Same as last week. I'm still going to have a piece of pie this weekend, in honor of Brass the serious-eating beagle.