Sunday, September 20, 2009

Two kinds of dogs....

In Amy Tan's The Joy Luck Club, the narrator recalls her mother saying that there are two kinds of daughters--obedient and disobedient. Well, in terms of dogs I'll be more flexible about that typology--there are dogs that do as they please, dogs that can herd sheep on command, and dogs like my dogs who obey when it's necessary and she knows I really mean it, but have flexible approaches to rules about 'not jumping on the furniture when the person I share my home with isn't looking.'

When I first got my dog, I was determined not to make the mistakes my parents made with me about food--I wouldn't make her feel anxious about not having access to her favorite foods, so she would never feel a need to overeat.

Also, my first dog, Lucky, a stray I got from the ASPCA (named Lucky, like so many dogs, because she was lucky to be saved)pretty much had no interest in food. Other than roast chicken (which I have found is crack for just about every dog), Lucky found most foods too stinky, too hard to eat, or suspiciously novel. Probably how she survived so long in the wild--not eating garbage. Getting Lucky to eat enough was the challenge. It could be she was half-chihuahua, half-corgi. Corgis are Queen Elizabeth II's favorite dog, and deep down inside, Lucky knew that she should be having beef drippings on Yorkshire pudding at the feet of the queen, rather than Mighty Dog in a suburban Jersey kitchen.

My current dog, Asta, on the other hand, never read my personal version of Dr. Spock's eating guide for the New Age pooch, and promptly hoovered up everything in her bowl, no matter how much I poured in. I thought this behavior would level off, until the half-blind 85-year-old woman on one of our (long, especially for a chihuahua) walks said "gosh, your dog is getting fat."

So I came to the conclusion that there are two kinds of dogs: those who will eat anything and those who will eat nothing, and to heck with the AKC class divisions.

The sound of me opening the refrigerator for my dog is like the sound of wrapping paper to a child on Christmas morning. Cooking can be downright dangerous, as she plants herself at my legs, in case I drop a crumb. Her intense gratefulness at finding a crumb makes me feel like the workhouse owner in Oliver Twist. "Oh, thank you kind mistress! A crumb! A crumb on the floor! For me?"

Poor little Asta, who must maintain a weight of 10lbs max to even be a chunky rather than an obese chihuahua. I carefully measure out her food, and feel guilty.

Here is my first dog:

Oh, the eating issues that are played out in our animals, who just want to obey their appetites and be done with it!

I'm sure my dog would be thin, if she could run as much as she wanted, and chase squirrels. But in the unnatural environment of suburbia, she is instead on lean adult dog food.

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