Monday, November 26, 2012

Dogged Optimism

With every trip into the kitchen, I have one or both dogs on my heels. They watch every move, always optimistic that a tasty morsel will fumble to the floor. Their eyes are all bright and pretty, and the practically nonexistent eyebrows raise and knit together.  If I am making my lunch or supper, they’ll follow me to my dining destination -- the couch, the island counter, the dining room, eyes fixed steadily on the plate or bowl in my hand. Watching. Waiting.

This goes on day after day, night after night.

Once in a while, I do drop something in the kitchen, and one or the other dog is quick to pounce. Winston seems to be quicker on the cleanup, even if he's further away from the drop. Moose could have a potato chip fall directly in front of him and he’ll not see it, then he’ll look all put out when Winston swoops in to snatch it.

Approximately 15% of the time, I’ll deliberately “drop” something on the kitchen floor to reward their undying optimism. I’d hate to extinguish the light in their eyes by killing all hope of a floor treat. I don’t want to be one of those parent/guardians who eventually extract the joy out of the younglings with the never ending “no” or “stop it” or “go away.” We are not totally without discipline here, though. Sometimes they need to sit or dance around on their hind legs to earn a carrot coin or cookie.

Once in a while in order to eat in unobserved peace and quiet, I’ll toss bits of something  in a direction away from me, just for the temporary removal of scrutiny as I eat my sandwich or dried cranberries or cereal or whatever.

The dogs are curious eaters. They like carrots and green beans. Moose used to have no interest in cucumbers, but after seeing Winston eat them, Moose is now a fan, too. They like apples and blueberries and peanut butter and cheese. They don’t like lettuce, but that doesn’t stop them from begging for it anyway if I’m making a salad. Maybe they’re hoping it’ll taste better this time than last.

Winston goes through occasional spells of boycotting his food. I’m not sure if he’s bored with the same thing all the time, but the one time I changed from a chicken and rice mix to a fish and sweet potato blend, he developed a rash down his neck and his belly and we got to visit the vet, he got to take an allergy and steroid medicine and I got to buy even more dog food. Lately, about half the time, Winston will eat his food only if I add hot water or soup broth to it. This, from the dog who routinely scours the yard (and the neighbor’s) in search of poop to eat. No one makes poop flavored dog food yet, but I’m optimistic.

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