I am not a perfect dog. This may come as a surprise to you. Food has become an “issue” for me.
I have been on a hunger strike to demonstrate my indifference to the food you prepare. I rush to my bowl, sniff its contents, drop my head dramatically and pad away. You have tried everything to encourage me, but what you don’t yet understand is that by eschewing my source of chewing, I am showcasing my sovereignty. I put on a good act by dashing to my bowl. Then I fake you out. I used to gobble up my food so fast, you bought me a “slow bowl.” I keep hoping you’ll finally bring me a dripping, fresh fish. But no! Not this time either.
The fact is, I’m almost 9 years old and have earned the right to be picky. Very picky. You have tried many different foods to entice me. There are three very large bags of different kinds of food in the basement and at the cabin. Now we have a fourth kind which I like better except you sprinkle some strange powder on top and I detest the taste. I know this is a special food for certain kinds of stomachs. It has a big label on it that says Gastrointestinal Biome. It’s mostly okay, especially mixed with butterscotch pudding. I’ve learned to eat the pudding and leave the food. I am smart, as you know. Catch my drift?
I am also deeply sensitive. I like having Biscuit around. Most of the time, he behaves himself. I have trouble with my temper when he jumps on your bed before I do and acts like he owns the world. I sulk on the floor when Biscuit behaves that way. I am not bred for conflict. I am a mediator. I wait. As soon as he jumps off, I take my turn and pose regally in state.
An example of my extreme sensitivity is this: when we walk around the city lake, there are terrible sounds: people on their skateboards, electric thingamajiggies, too-bright lights, loud boom-booms that make me nervous. I look over my shoulder to see if these terrible things are coming up around us because then all bets are off. I transmogrify. I become a growler, a snarler, a barker, a leaper, a jumper. The dopey drivers of these strange mechanisms blame me and you for their disrespectful behavior. They shout at us. They are stupid. They do not understand boundaries. They do not understand the effects of full-volume sound or of scary, sudden movement coming up behind us surreptitiously. They do not understand that dogs need their space too. We need quiet and peace so we can hear the birds and our own paws on the pavement.
Biscuit and you and I and an occasional friend find other places to walk when it is noisy around the city lake. But I still am on a hunger strike, striking for dog rights. Sidewalks are for four-legged tail-waggers like me and Biscuit. So, off we go to the neighborhood or to the cabin to be by ourselves. The symphony of sounds at our special Wisconsin lake is natural and good. At the cabin, we have trumpeter swans. They’re loud, but they earned their space to land on the lake. Loons? Same thing. Sandhill cranes squawk from distant shores. When the weather changes, these birds fly with strong wings to distant places. Biscuit barks at them because, at eight months old, he hasn’t learned you don’t have to bark at everything unknown. Biscuit is a good listener, and I will try to help him learn. One paw at a time. A couple of barks. We speak dog. Our dialect is the same because we both come from Michigan. Same address. His mother is my sister. Even though we don’t always agree, we understand one another.
Maybe he will show me how to get back to enjoying my food. Young and old. Old and young. Love makes it easier. Love makes it all better.
Advice from Oliver: If you are offended by your fare, strike!! You never know what form of bribery will come next. It could be butterscotch pudding.