Thursday, March 10, 2011

Food motivation--it's all in the wrist

Barky hated Ben Franklin.

Were he still with us, Barky would also be jealous of Jewel.

Before we got Barky, we read that beagles were food motivated, which means that they will do almost anything to get food. We thought we understood this, but the extent to which Barky was food motivated was shocking--first to us and then to Barky.

We had gotten a steel kitchen garbage can with a pedal-operated flip lid and were sure that there was no way Barky could open it. However, just to be sure that he couldn't, we wedged it under a kitchen counter that was too low to allow the lid to be opened without the can being pulled out. We then filled the remainder of the space under the counter so that the only way to pull the can out was to reach under, grab the can with a hand and slide the can straight out.

Or so we thought.

Then came the day that I arrived home to find not only the can pulled out from under the counter, opened and tipped over, but also Barky, having spread trash across the entire living room, burrowed into the can waist-deep. It was in that moment that I began to understand what food motivated meant.

After several failed attempts to keep Barky from the trash mechanically, we finally settled on an electric mat that, when stepped on, emitted a small static shock. It was irritating but harmless, as Mama and I repeatedly discovered when we forgot that the mat required us to work the pedal of the trash can without setting our heel down--easier said than done. Irritating, harmless, but effective as Barky proved when, years later, his cleverness still couldn't overcome the dreaded mat.

Now, years later, Barky were he still here, would have had an ally who was as food motivated as he was and whose cleverness surpasses even his. Her name is, of course, Jewel.

Her love of food is perhaps surpassed only by her love of dogs. Perhaps. Jewel has certainly bypassed me in the pursuit of both food and dogs, so I'm pretty sure I rank below both of them. I have no doubt that she would have teamed up with Barky in a tiny, adorable heartbeat to get food for them to share.

How clever is she?

Last night, we took Grammy to Pupatella, our favorite pizza place evah. It's about a twenty minute drive along the interstate and through surface streets to get there. As we made our final turn and were approaching Pupatella, Jewel started chanting, "Dinny. Dinny. Dinny."

Translation? "Dinner. Dinner. Dinner."

OK, but perhaps she'd just been hearing us talk about Pupatella and was getting hungry. But then we parked across the street and got out of the car. Jewel pointed her cute little finger straight at Pupatella, among the row of shops that it's in, from across the parking lot and four lanes of traffic, "Dinny. Dinny. Dinny."

Once we were inside, Jewel again devoured over half a margherita pizza while her brother, who's nearly twice her size, ate less than a quarter of a plain pizza crust. Grammy literally couldn't cut pieces as fast as Jewel could put them into her own mouth.

In the silence that came while we were all eating, I'm sure that I heard Barky whining from beyond the grave, complaining that he was cute, he was clever...why didn't we ever take him out for pizza?

It's all about the digits, dude. You've got to point and ask.

I told you he'd be jealous.

Papa Bradstein is going to ride 200 miles across Massachusetts in two days to help fight cancer. Please support his ride.

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