Friday, April 27, 2007

Release the Hounds

It appears that 3B is learning just as much from Barky as he is from us, like just how wonderful food is. Hounds are what vets call "food motivated," which is putting it politely and mildly.

Just this week, Barky got so caught up in hopping and dancing on his hind legs around his food dish while I brought him dinner that he flipped over his water dish and didn't even notice. That suppertime dance that Snoopy does is a pretty accurate representation of a hound at mealtime.

That is, however, the most mild symptom of food motivation. Some of Barky's more memorable exploits have come when we're out of the house and he has, for example, eaten a whole stick of butter or all the sugar in the sugar bowl--both of which required him to jump up onto the dining room table to get to them--or eaten the contents of the kitchen trash can--after dragging it into the living room to spread things around on the carpet--or chewed out the pockets of more coats than we care to think about because they had, at some time in the last five years, held a crumb of food, which he could still smell as strongly as if they were stuffed full of Twinkies.

Barky's not much better when we're around, begging from us every time we crinkle or rustle something. Even if we're only getting out a new trash bag or putting away toys, Barky's at our feet, staring alternately at us and the floor, imploring us to at least, for the love of all that's holy, drop a crumb or two. When he sees us eating, he's even worse, and this seems to be the habit that 3B has picked up on. Yesterday, I had just flopped down on the couch to eat a sandwich when 3B crawled over, hauled himself upright and cruised down the couch to stand at my knee and wait for a handout. Even though I was giving him little bits of crust as fast as I could, 3B wasn't going to be satisfied until he got his hands on the sandwich.

Finally, Mama got him a piece of some waffles that we keep frozen for him to chew on and 3B was somewhat satisfied, although he kept his eyes glued to my sandwich while he ate his stick of frozen waffle.

Fortunately, 3B and Barky seem to respect each others' begging space, like respectful panhandlers on separate street corners, with each ceding begging rights to whoever got to the food first. And fortunately, there are only the two of them; if they weren't so respectful, or if we had any more babies or dogs, I'm afraid that it would look like this under our table if we dropped a crumb:

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  1. Anonymous9:56 AM

    We can't eat anything in this house without Lil C staring you down and waiting for a handout. It's like we don't feed her enough or something, but the kid eats constantly!!!

  2. Anonymous12:04 PM

    Wow, I can barely resist the dogs' big eyes. I don't know how you do it with 3B.

    Does Barky ever beg 3B? That's the one we're anticipating, or at least having Guinness stake her claim on the foot of the high chair.

  3. That video...I'm not sure I can express everything running through my mind right now.

    Was that a beagle nosh mosh pit?
    How amazingly well-trained were those dogs?
    Was that raw chicken?

    Somewhere along the line my kids tuned into the fact that sometimes when they're acting cranky we suspect it's because they're hungry. So now every time I start to get exasperated, they say "I'm hungry and thirsty, Mama!"

    But today I discovered yet another similarity between dogs and kids: they can be kept happily occupied by chewy food. Give the dog a rawhide chew, give the kids celery and peanut butter. Ahhhh, peace in our time.

  4. Under the youngers person's chair is the favorite hangout during mealtime at our house. Shadow seems to know intuitively (or perhaps from experience) that is the place she is most likely to receive real food.

    I remember hearing a ranger talk at Yosemite, and they recommended loud noise to scare away hungry bears. They said banging pots and pans did not work because it sounded like a dinner bell to the bears. Shadow recognizes that bell too. She will lay on the floor (next to her full bowl of kibble) as if she died of hunger while I cook, hoping I will drop an offering to revive her.

  5. In that pack of 3,000 dogs, one dog is looking at the trainer and murmuring to the dog next to him, "O.K., on the count of three, we all jump the trainer and have us a real dinner."

    Or maybe that was just a Far Side cartoon.

  6. Anonymous3:33 PM




    That, that video. . .is unbelievable. . .it kinda freaked the cats out though and that was funny:-)