Monday, October 29, 2012

Food Obsessed

I haven't really ever talked much about Kale on here, because, well, he is the second. And that is just the way things go. Here is a list of things you need to know about him...

  1. He loves food. Probably more than anything else.
  2. He loves to swim.
  3. He loves to run.
  4. He loves to go to doggie daycare and play with his friends.
  5. He understands that Kabo is the alpha.
  6. He loves to snuggle.
  7. He loves to "play" with Sampson, and Sampson often "plays" back.
The reason why I got Kale when I did was because I knew that Kabo was getting older and I wanted to have another dog that had all of his good attributes. Kabo doesn't run away when off leash, stays in our yard, knows a bunch of tricks like sit and down and wave, and generally knows when to leave a person alone. (If you pet him, he will be your best friend. If you don't look at him, he'll have nothing to do with you. For at least a few minutes. He does eventually try to win over even the hardest of non-dog-loving hearts.) Everyone who knows Kabo loves Kabo. And I knew that I would be raising this new dog in a totally different environment than we raised Kabo. I know that I wasn't solely responsible for his awesome-ness, so I knew that I needed help with a puppy.

When I went to get Kale, there were still six other puppies left out of the twelve in his litter. I was able to witness feeding time, and it was basically a black puppy eating frenzy. They were polite, no growling or such, but pretty much went in a circle around the bowl, perfectly synchronized, scarfing down as much food as they possibly could before any of the other puppies got more than their fair share. The first time I met him, the breeder brought him up from the kennel area and I attempted to see if he liked me. Because really, I liked him, he was a puppy, what was there NOT to like? But he seemed more interested in what was in the kitchen than me or any affection I might give him. He was sniffing at the counter and didn't want to be anywhere near the living room, where we were sitting on the floor. When we took him outside, the story completely changed, and that is why I chose him to come home with me...because he chose me.

Now, a year and a half later, Kale's favorite room of the house is still the kitchen. When the kids eat at the bar, he is positioned between them, staring up, just waiting for something to fall. He considers the chairs fair game if the food doesn't make it into the girls' mouths, and willingly cleans them off, whether the girls were going to eat that bite or not. When we eat together as a family, and especially when we have guests, I have to put him in the laundry room, because he literally cannot help himself. He knows that he shouldn't beg, yet he inches closer and closer to the table until you look down and his nose is right next to the hand which is holding your fork.

I've tried making him stay in a certain place, but to be honest, it is a lot of work. I have just a couple of minutes to eat my food as it is, and spending that time taking him back to the same spot over and over just isn't what I am generally in the mood for at 6pm. I used to crate him, but wow, he was really annoying with the crying. I have also since taken the crate down. So we deal with it. To the laundry room it is, unless his manners are working for him that day and he doesn't annoy me too much.

I feel like I should mention that no matter what brand of food, nor how much he gets, he always. wants. more. He gets almost four cups of food a day, which is more than the recommended amount on the bag, and that amount is for un-sterilized animals who have higher metabolisms. So yeah, he isn't starving. Around five o'clock, him and Kabo start to stare me down and follow me around, just so I won't forget to feed them. Not that I ever forget to feed them, OK, maybe just once.

Sam and Charlie LOVE to help feed the dogs. Charlie especially. She sees me pick up the dog bowls and she'll scream at me and cry if I don't let her put at least one of them down. She is very serious about the whole matter, s-l-o-w-l-y leaning down to put dishes in their designated spots. Since she loves to feed the dogs, I suppose it is only natural that she also loves to play in the dog food. Kale's food is in a container on the landing in our garage, which means that Charlie can just wander out there anytime she wants and attempt to pry it open. Usually she can't. The other day she could.

What followed was an experiment I had been wanting to try, but couldn't find enough excuses to do so. Charlie filled up one of the dog bowls to the very top, almost perfectly level. She then "accidentally" dumped it out onto the floor. It was probably eight or ten cups of food, and Kale heard it hit the ground. He was cautious at first, looking at me since I had let out a loud exasperated "Charlie!" when I heard the food spill. I looked at the food, then at Kale, he looked at me, then at the food, and I sighed and said, "OK." He dove.

He didn't have the same desperate drive to get all the food in his mouth as quickly as possible, especially since I think he knew I wasn't about to sweep it all up. But that damn dog ate every last kernel of dog chow that was scattered across the floor. He thoroughly checked underneath the refrigerator and obediently allowed Kabo to have a few bites when he approached, and I was so relieved that I didn't have to sweep up yet another mess.

But it just confirmed what I thought, if I accidentally left the top of the tub open, he probably would eat the whole damn thing. The first six months of Kabo's life I could barely get him to eat half of what was recommended, and even since then, he's never been so worried that he won't get fed. Kale, I guess it is just that survival instinct kicking as much as you can while it is there. Even if you know more is coming in 12 hours. I supposed that is juts one of the downfalls of being one of twelve.  

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