whatcha eatin?

So Bosco’s not exactly a connoisseur. For his whole life, his fine dining experience has been:

Morning: kibble in a bowl.

Evening: kibble in a bowl.

Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat……

Not that I have a problem with that. I learned the hard way that if you give a certain food to a dog once, he assumes that he will always get to eat that food. For nine years, my beagle and I shared tomatoes, strawberries, carrots, green beans, apples, jalapeƱos, etc. etc. etc.

It’s rather strange to have the opposite experience with Bosco. Just last night I was having a classy dinner of chipotle cod with shredded Brussels sprouts and caramelized onions. In front of the teevee. With Bosco sitting next to me. See, classy. I got up to refill my drink, and left my plate on the arm of the sofa. When I came back…..

There was my plate, on the arm of the sofa, with my food still on it. I know this is a very wonderful thing, but seriously – what dog does that?

I know that breed differences play into this – breed books describe beagles as “food motivated” – which really means “95% of the dog is stomach, and the other 5% is a big voice so he can yell that he wants something to eat.” At 29 pounds, I could not wrestle unauthorized food away from him. I figured Bosco’s 76 pounds would present an even greater challenge.

Shortly after he moved in, we were taking our regular walk and happened upon a pancake on the sidewalk. You are going to be dumbstruck and get caught up in wondering why there was a pancake on the sidewalk. I urge you to let it go – it’s one of life’s unsolved mysteries.

So Bosco found the pancake and picked it up. Out of habit, I firmly said “leave it,” but didn’t expect him to respond (we were still working on sit, heel, etc. at this time). But someone at BARC must have taught him that. He stood with the pancake hanging from his mouth, then gently placed it back exactly where he found it.

When I adopted Bosco, I had a list of questions for BARC, so that I could keep his basic care consistent. It seems that I misinterpreted the feeding instructions. After a few months, Bosco’s doctor let me know that he was 14 pounds too cuddly, and I needed to cut back on his food.

Up until that moment, he was still cautious about eating. He wouldn’t eat when I was watching, and often left food in his bowl (duh!). Starting a diet changed that – he went to town on his kibble the second I set it down, and was very aware that there were fewer of them. And he was not happy about it. I tried to make up the volume by adding green beans to his meals. That would have been nirvana to a beagle. The first time I did it to Bosco, he stood and stared at the bowl, as if saying “What.The. F%#*.” He did not eat that meal.

The second time I did it, he tried to remedy the situation. Using his blunt snout, he shoveled the green beans out of his dish, so he could just eat kibble. But things went terribly wrong, and he stood wide-eyed and frozen in place – the same look and stance as when he feels threatened.

There were still beans. And they were too close. They were




The horror. The horror.

But not every new food is a bad thing. One foolish day, I’d decided to take Bosco to get his nails trimmed, and then to meet some people at work. In the middle of a thunderstorm. I know now that this is Bosco’s Bermuda Triangle. He got so upset that he had diarrhea. For FIVE straight days.

before the doggie kaopectate kicked in.

before the doggie kaopectate kicked in.

Doggie kaopectate costs $110.

I would pay much more.

The other part of the prescription was for a bland diet. And Bosco went from “oh poor me, I don’t feel good, please rub me while I lay on the sofa,” to “I like chicken and rice. When’s supper time?”

I know that he will soon discover that I make lots of good food. And that he’s really tall and that no surface is out of his reach. And that no matter what he does, he will always be an adored member of this household. When he figures that out, it’s back to high food security.

But not tonight. I burned dinner. There’s smoke and swearing. He’s glad I didn’t wreck his kibble.

Black Eye

Sunday in the Park with Bosco

Sunday in the Park with Bosco

It was a gorgeous weekend here, and Bosco and I went to the park both days. It was us and about three million golden retrievers. And two pudgy chihuahuas.

We were at Lehigh Parkway, which is the most awesome park. It’s why I live in this city. It’s the largest park, and the least…..ummmmmm……. cautious. It’s full of people who are very serious about fitness, or want to take their dogs someplace wooded and a little secluded. A lot of people stop and ask questions about Bosco, which lets me get up on my soapbox about pet adoption and no-kill shelters.

There’s another good-sized park in the West End (if you’re picturing London right now, stop. You’ll be disappointed). Folks there are into strolling, and it’s common to see footwear that is less than sensible. My experience is that many people in that park judge Bosco and get carried away, to the point where they dive off the path to avoid him.

So we have a common experience – a big dog walking on a leash, and two opposite reactions. It got me thinking – what is it that people see that makes them respond differently?

I read an article a while ago about Black Dog Syndrome, which suggests people respond differently to black dogs.

Bosco’s face is half black, half white. If someone sees the black side first, do they think he’s menacing? If they see the white side, does it make them more likely to say “awwwwwww?”

This morning I was tweaking his heinie, right where his tail joins his body. For some strange reason, he hates this. He sits there and takes it, but he looks over his shoulder at me the whole time. Today I looked at each side of his face separately. By itself, the black side kinda said “it would be in your best interest to stop that now.” The white side said “woe is me, please take pity.” Put together, both sides merely said, “Oh. You’re tweaking my heinie.”

Sounds weird, I know – but check it out.

Black. Kinda scary.

White. Looking for sympathy.

Same photo.

Photo by Amanda J. Cox

Photo by Amanda J. Cox

Today’s lesson – look at the whole picture. The whole dog.

He’ll ask you to make me stop tweaking his heinie.