Thursday, June 28, 2007
Category: Pets and Animals
A LITTLE TRIPE GOES A LONG WAY
When my new English import arrived, he was the picture of health. His coat was hard and dense. He had good weight and was in beautiful condition with plenty of hard muscle. His diet, in England, had consisted of raw tripe and kennel biscuit but, after two short months on a high quality North American kibble, he looked like a refugee from Bangladesh.
After listening to weeks of nagging by retired handler, the esteemed Pat Tripp,I finally succumbed and started searching for raw tripe. It could not be the bleached white variety found in the supermarkets. As Madame Tripp so eloquently explained, it had to be the uncleaned, green, slimy variety that was oozing with undigested crud. "Your Lakelands will think they have died and gone to heaven!" she promised.
I spent days on the phone, calling butcher shops and talking to people who thought I was a lunatic but eventually found a source quite close to home. Unable to drive myself as I was recovering from a bad cut on my hand, I invited my long-suffering husband, HG, to come along. (HG is short for Human God whichis how the dogs see him.) He knew I had been looking for raw tripe but what does he know about tripe? He's Japanese. He only knows raw fish.
It was a beautiful day and I found HG working in the garden. "I've found a place that sells raw 'meat' for the dogs. Want to take a break and drive me?" I innocently asked. "What is it, a butcher shop? How far?" he wanted to know. "It's called Grand Maison and it's about a ten minute drive." I didn't bother to tell him it was a slaughter house. He was going to find out soon enough.
Grand Maison was located on a quiet, country road, in a large, white building. The only indication of the type of business was the sign advertising the weekly special. So far, so good. We parked in the lot and looked about for the entrance. "Not very well signed for customers." noted HG, the ever efficient retailer. Spotting a door, we climbed the stairs and went inside.
Unfortunately it was the wrong door and we found ourselves in the heart of the operation, so to speak. Reeling backwards, HG bolted outside. I followed. "Have you lost your mind?" he hissed.
Before I could answer, a kindly gentlemen appeared and directed us to the front office. It was a small room with a little service counter, behind which was a rather robust woman wearing a white lab coat. "I would like about 20 pounds of uncleaned tripe." I told her. "Is this for his dinner?" she asked with a boisterous laugh, motioning towards H.G. He was not amused. As she yelled my order into the back, I turned to find HG staring at a sign with his jaw dropping to the ground. Obviously they did not believe in wasting any part of the animal.
In big, bold letters, the sign read, Ears - $5, Lungs - $10, Lips - $5, Testicles - $5, Dinks - $5, etc. H.G. stood there shaking his head, turning slightly green and muttering, "I don't believe this!"
Meanwhile, a fellow appeared from the back and informed the woman that there was no tripe. "Whaddya mean there's no tripe?" she demanded. "It's on the hook!" He insisted there was none. "Well, get some fresh stuff!" she ordered, flinging open the door and stomping into the back. About 5 minutes later she reappeared, face flushed, with red stains on her formerly white coat. "It'll be ready in a few minutes," she announced. In an attempt at humor, admittedly a weak one, I whispered to my husband, "She probably wrestled it to death." I could feel his glare burning into the back of my head as I went to the counter to pay for the tripe. The few minutes seemed to stretch on forever but, at last, the same man came out and presented HG with a medium size cardboard box.
Back outside, I got into the van as HG deposited the box in the back. Climbing into the driver's seat, he turned and just sat there, staring at me. "What's the matter?" I asked hesitantly. In very slow, measured words, he uttered, "It's still warm!" I could control myself no longer. It was not just the look on his face, although that helped. I burst out laughing. The more he stared, the harder I laughed. "Well, I told you she probably wrestled it to death." I howled. With tears running down my face and the windows wide open, because of the stench, we drove home. "You are NOT taking that stuff in the house!" he exclaimed as we pulled into the driveway. He got out of the van and headed back to his gardening. Pat had warned me that it would be difficult to cut so I got the sharpest knife I could find - HG's large Japanese chef's knife.
Donning a pair of rubber gloves, I spread a tarp on the lawn and meekly asked HG to get the box. I began to haul the tripe out and he was making a quick exit when he spotted his knife. Well, the way he carried on you would have thought it was a ceremonial sword. How dare I use his knife for something so disgusting! What was I thinking?
As he tried to convince me of my folly, the neighbor's dog appeared out of nowhere and plunged her head into the tripe. Hot on her heels was her owner. "Oh my Gawd," moaned HG "Get that stuff back in the box before he thinks we've gone mad!" It was a little late for that. The neighbors had decided long ago that we were mentally deranged. It might have been because of our killer duck who patrolled the property line and regularly beat the daylights out of their dog. It may have been the time I was hanging off the ladder to the tree house, screeching "KILL IT, KILL IT" to Molly and Winston, who had cornered a rat....but that's another story.
There I was, trying to cram the tripe back into the box but the dog's head kept getting in the way. Too late! The neighbor, eyeing the tripe, said a faint hello, hauled his dog out of the box and beat a hasty retreat home. HG forgot all about his knife and could not get back to his yard work fast enough. I busied myself cutting the slimy mess for about half an hour when HG reappeared to say he was leaving to pick our son up from school. "Wait." I said, trying to convince him that the whole episode was worthwhile. "I want to show you how much the dogs will love this." Now you would think that after living with Lakelands for over 30 years, I would know what they were about to do to me, but noooooo!
Calling the girls outside, I offered each of them a piece. Abbey took one sniff and high-tailed it back into the house. Molly reluctantly took hers and instantly spit it out. After a brief investigation, she ate it but then she considers raccoon droppings to be a delicacy. Not about to give up, I headed for the kennel runs. "C'mon, Rory will gulp this down." Rory (our English dog) drew back his lips, took the tripe with his front teeth and dropped it on the ground. After eyeing it for a few seconds, he went to the far corner of his run and sat with his back to us and his nose in the air. Winston, bless his heart, swallowed it whole, not even tasting it, which was probably just as well. We returned to the front yard just in time to find Molly, upchucking in the driveway. "Great idea!" muttered HG as he climbed in the van and drove away.
By this time my hand was more than a little sore but, within minutes of HG leaving, I had a brainstorm. My Mother had given me an electric meat grinder that had never been used. Rushing inside, I dragged it out of the cupboard and assembled it. Back outside I ran, cut several chunks of tripe and hurried in to grind it. I had to work quickly so I would be finished before they got home. Setting a stainless steel bowl under the chute, I began to feed the tripe into the grinder piece by piece. Nothing was coming out except for a tiny bit of liquid but I kept on feeding. Unfortunately, physics was never one of my strong suits. All of a sudden the grinder erupted like a volcano, shooting its contents everywhere. There was partially ground tripe on the counters, on the floor, dripping off the ceiling and walls, in my hair, on my clothes and all over Molly and Abbey (much to their disgust). I knew my life, or at least my marriage, would be coming to an end in about 15 minutes. Like a madwoman, I stripped off my clothes and shoved them and the grinder into a big plastic garbage bag. I ran my head under the tap and wrapped it in a towel. Grabbing both dogs, I hustled them down to the dog room, hosed them off and stuck them in crates. Back upstairs I flew with the bleach and I hurriedly wiped down the counters, walls and floors. I did the best I could with the ceiling, praying he would not look up. After throwing on clean clothes, I emptied a can of air freshener in the house and hid the garbage bag outside.
The weather had suddenly changed and it was now raining. Just as they arrived, I yanked the towel off my head and picked up the knife. Bolting out of the van with "I don't want to even know about it!", YGIT (Young God In Training) headed for the house. HG vanished but reappeared a few minutes later with an umbrella.
Holding it over me for a short time, he said in his gruff 'I am in charge' voice (the one I let him use when I've really screwed up), "You had better go in and dry your hair before you catch a cold. I'll finish this." He didn't have to say it twice. I was gone. By the time I got out of the shower, both of the Gods were gagging and bagging as they packaged the tripe into meal sized portions for the freezer. (Did I mention I am blessed?)
About a month or so later, HG was sitting in the kitchen, gazing upwards. "I guess I had better paint the ceiling.", he remarked. "It's looking a little stained. It must be from the explosion when you were canning pears." "Must be," I agreed as I walked into the other room and crammed my face into a cushion to muffle the laughter.
POSTED on the Natural Pug Yahoo group, but author not noted.