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Thankfully, animals are easy to please

November 26, 2008|By TIM ROWLAND

In the grand scheme of things, the question isn't as burning as, say, whether to bail out another multi-national bank. But it's still there: Do you feed the animals anything special on Thanksgiving?

If you have pets, you know what I'm talking about; if you do not, your only question is how long will it be until the men in white coats and butterfly nets come to pick me up.

But here's the deal: Holidays are special, and we feel special and because we are indulging we feel as if our four-legged companions should dine on something special as well.

But there's a problem, and to illustrate I will ask our Bulldog named Hannah to come up on stage. She gets fed twice a day, and the reaction is always the same. "WOW! Your feeding me DOG food! This is GREAT! It's my FAVORITE, how did you know?

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She dives into her meals like Greg Louganis, and it is a testament to the sturdiness of the steel in her dog dish that she hasn't eaten right through the bottom of it. So the issue is, we could feed her something special -- but what's the point?

It's much the same with the other critters. The alpacas don't -- won't -- eat anything but hay and alpaca pellets. So that's a lost cause. Magellan the pig is much like Hannah, only times 10. The only thing he won't eat is okra. He is a wise pig.

Beth is of the opinion that horses and such should be treated to a bowl of warm bran mash on special occasions. To me, this sounds more like punishment, but I don't say anything.

The wild card in all this, as he usually is, is the big, black Bouvier des Flandres who answers, sometimes, to Opie.

To Opie, food is not a priority. This is very unusual for a dog, I think. Food is OK as far he is concerned, but it takes a back seat to other activities that may present themselves at mealtime, such as barking and entering, grand theft flower pot or creating a nuisance.

At feeding time, both of us need to be in the room; if one or the other is absent, he suspects he may be missing something and won't eat. If we make a sudden move, he won't eat. If there is noise outside, he won't eat. Even low barometric pressure can throw him off.

It's ridiculous. The simple act of throwing some kibble down in front of a dog becomes something more along the lines of communion. It must be silent, the lights must be dim and all distractions must be previously mitigated. We gently set his bowl under his nose and then both of us freeze.

He looks at one of us and then the other to make sure we're not doing anything fun, then if there is no other overt stimuli he might start to pick at his meal. As a general thing, that's about the time the UPS truck will rattle up the driveway, and of course then all bets are off.

Opie does appreciate scrambled eggs, but that doesn't seem very Thanksgivingish. Turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, scrambled eggs -- no.

The dog's problem seems to be that standard food isn't disgusting enough for him. We have at least eight species of farm animals on the place, and Opie savors their leavins' like a connoisseur of fine wine. We routinely catch him thoughtfully swirling a helping of goose poo in his mouth as he tests it for flavor, mouth feel and finish.

Actually, this might explain why he is not hungry come suppertime. I guess children have the same issues. You can't break them of that love for processed foods.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2324, or by e-mail at timr@herald-mail.com. You can listen to his podcast, The Rowland Rant, on www.antpod.com.

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