My Party Animal
I swear, my dog has an invisible watch he wears around his front left paw. At 3:58 every afternoon, it goes off and reminds him it is “Now time to pester the humans until I am fed”. No matter where I am in the house, or how deep of a doggy semi-coma he has worked himself into from the 12th nap of his very lazy day, he will begin his familiar routine: stand, stare, plead, whine, bay, prance, dance, sit, wag.
Weirdly enough, I’ve recently had to resort to feeding him akin to feeding pigeons in the park. He has been eating out of a metal food bowl for years now. But for some unknown reason, about a month ago, he started leaving his food in his dish. Thinking he was “going to get around to it later”, I really didn’t pay it much attention. Granted, I should have realized something was amiss — after all, he is a fully grown beagle. Nothing edible escapes his grasp. I know, because I once had to scoop up the backyard droppings after he consumed an entire 96-count box of waxed crayons he had taken from my daughter’s school backpack. It was as if a rainbow of colors had exploded directly over our pie-shaped patch of lawn. The only benefit to that was it was very easy to spot between the patches of brown grass and dirt.
With this new quirk came some in-depth analysis on my behalf: “Hmm, wonder if he’s ill? Lost his sense of taste/smell?” Nope, wet nose and waggedy tail — still healthy. Being able to pick a used tissue out of our son’s bedroom closet — nope, still going strong in the smell department. So, what could it be?
“He’ll eat when he’s hungry enough” said my husband. True, that did happen eventually. But, by the time he would actually eat his bowl of kibble, three feedings had passed and he was chomping down three times his regular portion in one sitting. I swear, the dog was sandbagging me.
So, I tried something different. It came about accidentally. I tripped a little coming back into the house (his food is kept in a bag in the garage where it occasionally serves as a buffet to the neighborhood raccoons, so I have discovered). Out flew the kibble from my hands, and my dog immediately went into “clean up mode”. He attacked his kibble with the same ferocity of a death row inmate during his last meal. That was my light bulb moment. From that day on, I started dropping his kibble over the floor near his bowl, and just allowed him to eat at his own pace. That seems to work.
But, it doesn’t end there. No, that’d be too easy, right?
At 7:00 pm every night, again without fail, he begins the “dessert” drama. He plucks himself off from whatever surface he’s morphed over, stands in front of me and starts baying “I O!!” “I O!!” To add a sense of urgency, he’ll trot into the kitchen — where he knows his can of treats is (on top of the refrigerator). If I don’t obediently hop up and follow behind him, he comes back, stands at the entrance of our living room, and begins the process all over again. Eventually, unlike I do with my human children, I give him what he wants so he’ll shut the hell up and let me go back to watching whatever latest vapid reality TV show is now polluting the silver screen.
It’s my own damn fault he’s this way. First, he knows he owns me. Second, I realize now I never should have taught him to bay “I O!” in response to my “O H!”.
He knows I can’t resist a good, old OSU cheer.