How McDonald’s Shakes are Bad for Dogs

** Disclaimer: Some details may or may not have been exaggerated in the retelling of this story. **

I know I’m not the only one going a bit stir crazy and itching for the first glimpse of spring. I hear people talking about “this crazy winter” nearly everywhere I go. Has it been colder or snowier than normal this winter where you live? It sure feels that way here in Iowa. Because it’s been so cold here, getting out, even to go deposit a check at the bank, requires bundling up kids like this:

KidInSnowsuitSo we stay in. A lot. But one recent afternoon between 3:00-5:00pm, also known as The Witching Hour here at Das Schmidt Haus, I was highly motivated to get out. I didn’t care how cold it was. The kids needed out, too. So I told them to put their coats, gloves, and hats on because we were all going for a ride. I added that if they hurried, the ride just might result in a very special treat for them. A treat involving the words McDonald’s and chocolate and shake. As I write that, I realize how strange it sounds to offer a kid ice cream when temps are below zero. But at the suggestion of a chocolate shake, the kids started moving rather quickly. It worked.

Our little rendezvous around town and through the McDonald’s drive-thru turned out to be a successful break in our day. The Witching Hour wasn’t so witchy. Upon returning home I noticed our dog, a 90-pound black Labrador retriever named Sophie, acting odd. As if possessed, she was galloping in circles around the first floor of our house. She’s 90-pounds; it was a sight. While the kids were highly entertained by her strange movements, I scolded her and within seconds, she calmed down and life went back to normal.

Then the front doorbell rang, resulting in kids squealing with delight that someone came to visit. And the dog going crazy once again. (Have I mentioned it’s been a long winter and we don’t get out much?)

As I opened the door, a woman greeted me and said, “I live a few houses behind you, and I’ve heard a dog barking for the last hour. Is it your dog?” I responded, “Oh, we just got home and the dog’s been inside all afternoon. I bet you’re hearing the dog down the street. He gets a little crazy this time of day and barks quite a bit.” {That part of this story is 100% true. There is a dog in the ‘hood who appears to have a witching hour as well.} I then ratted out the dog’s owner as I pointed in the general direction of where they live so she could go explore. The woman at my front door then looked at my kids, who were now peeking out the front door with me, and then she looked around into my home and spotted our dog. Thankfully Sophie was quiet and sitting in such a way that made her look like the world’s most obedient pet. The neighbor said, “Yep. It looks like everyone is happy here.” And with that, she waved goodbye and went on her way.

I don’t recall ever meeting that neighbor before. We live in a suburban neighborhood where most backyards are fenced, including ours. Unless I jumped the fence, the only way to get to my backyard neighbor’s front doors is to walk all the around the block. I don’t do this very often, and unfortunately I don’t know too many neighbors who live behind us. As I prepared dinner that evening, I thought about the woman’s visit and started to get a little miffed. How dare she blame my dog for all that barking. We’re going to get cited by the code enforcement officer for a barking dog, AND IT WASN’T EVEN OUR DOG! What did her comment ‘everyone looks happy’ even mean? I worked out my irritations while chopping, slicing, and stirring the ingredients for that night’s dinner. After Joel arrived home from work, I recalled the story to him and then put it all to rest.

Then while eating dinner last week, our five-year-old Lucy piped up:

“Hey mom. Remember that time we went for a drive to get a snack … a shake at McDonald’s (why does she feel compelled to share these ugly mom moments with my husband?) … and when we came home I let Sophie in from outside and she went all crazy? Remember that, mom? That was funny.”

If a soundtrack had been serenading my life at that moment, the Law & Order “duh duh” would have sounded off.

Me: What?! She was outside while we were gone and you let her in when we came home?

Lucy: Yes, mom. Don’t you remember … (and then repeats everything she had just said, including the part about the McDonald’s shake. You know, to make sure every detail was crystal clear).

“duh duh”

Me: You are sure she was outside the entire time we were gone?

Lucy: Yes, she was standing at the door and I let her in.

Then I had one of those moments like at the end of the The Sixth Sense when I started putting everything together. My eyes grew huge and I looked at Joel and said, “OH NO! It was our dog barking that day!”

I replayed every minute of that afternoon in my mind. We must have been gone at least an hour. Was she barking the whole time we were gone? Did other neighbors hear her? Were they annoyed? Did they call the code enforcement officer on me? I know how anxious the dog gets if I don’t immediately let her in when she wants, I can’t imagine how crazy she sounded. No wonder she acted possessed when we got home that day. 

Then I reflected on the neighbor’s comment, “It looks like everyone is happy here.” As I think about it more, I suspect the neighbor didn’t make a visit to complain about my barking dog. It’s more likely she was worried and wanted to make sure we weren’t in danger. If I heard a neighbor’s dog barking for an hour, a dog who normally isn’t left outside alone for more than a few minutes, especially in the bitter cold, at a house with an at-home mom and young kids … well I sure hope my internal alarm would go off and send me knocking on her door to make sure she and her kids were safe and out of harms way. Shamefully, I bet my first reaction would be one of annoyance.

The moral of the story? You be the judge. Is it:

A. We are our brother’s keeper.

B. We are all parts of the Body of Christ, interconnected and interdependent.

C.  Check to make sure your dog is safely locked in the house before you make a run for McDonald’s chocolate shakes.

D. Don’t go for a McDonald’s shake run during the Witching Hour.

E. All of the above.

Now I better go apologize to the owner of the other barking dog for ratting him out …

Sophie Sunbathing

I’m writing seven posts in seven days this week. To check out other bloggers who are doing the same, see the list here.

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  1. says

    Aw, poor puppy! Your retelling of the story is so great. I can definitely see the exact same thing happening to this house…in fact, it kind of has! Last week, my sleep-deprived resident husband let our dog out in the middle of the night. While our dog was outside, Philip fell asleep on the couch. He fell asleep for half an hour while our dog was barking outside. We received a letter from a neighbor the next week, highlighting the city ordinance for barking dogs. Oops! Oh, and a car ride for ice cream? Always a great idea! I see that happening in our future.

  2. Cathy Underhill says

    LOL for real!! And I can absolutely hear Lucy recounting all that had happened. (LOL some more!!) Oh and by the way Lisa, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. — No matter the temps or the weather, I agree that ice cream is always in season! Thanks for another great post!


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