Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Great Food Swap

As if my life is not chaotic enough with a ten month old and a three year old, I have the most high maintenance, lazy creature best known as a dog for a pet. We have a miniature, long-haired Dachshund slapped with the moniker, Bruiser, that my husband let me get for my birthday right after we got married. He would best be described as a black and tan ottoman as he has the broadest back and shortest legs of any creature this side of the Mississippi. On the rare occasion I have enough gumption to drag his lazy 17 pound (supposed to be 10 lbs) body into the open for public scrutiny I get assaulted with questions about my fury creature. No one knows what he is, and when I tell them the breed I get squinched faces and suspicious “hmmmmms” as replies. People act as if I’ve smuggled a rare, squat, fury, clawless sloth from the canopy of the rainforest in Costa Rica. Or perhaps they are pondering my obvious stupidity for being coerced into believing and subsequently forking over large sums of money to a breeder for a “pure bread Dachshund” of which the poor thing does not resemble. Before we had children I loved Bruiser fiercely. I still love him, but he’s at the end of the line, and these days he just adds stress to every situation.

Poor Bruiser is ghastly overweight and he will not walk. I have to lug him, or in some situations drag him to the grass so he can relieve himself. I am not amused by his tomfoolery. It’s utterly exhausting to cater to his every demand. He will also not walk down steps of any kind. I try to give him the benefit of the doubt and make excuses about his short-leggedness, but deep down I know he’s giddy that he gets airlifted to any location of his choosing and at any time he pleases. His demanding bark is such a shrill, grating sound that you have no choice but to give in just to get a reprieve. He expects to sleep in our bed every night and given a few seconds to roam he will forage and root around until he finds that perfect, cool spot under your pillow. He then performs his nightly ritual of scraping, scraping, scraping, circling, circling, circling, and plop. My husband sweetly barricades my pillow with decorative pillows so our hound cannot penetrate the barrier, therefore leaving my pillow in pristine condition. By nature Dachshunds are burrowers. They will find the smallest nook in your home and make it their lair. My sweetly smelling pillow is Bruiser’s first choice for a sleeping locale with my husband’s as a close second. On most days I too will protect my husband’s pillow from Bruiser. But sometimes, as we all know, husbands can annoy you to your very core. On those weary nights I let Bruiser excavate the little space under my husband’s pillow and make it his haven. I lay in bed awaiting his grunt of annoyance when he surprisingly unearths the beast from his sacred den. I chuckle to myself and think “one point for the home team”.

Lately Bruiser has not been eating his weight management dry dog food. For five years he has gobbled up his dinner as soon as he has been presented with it. In fact, feeding time is so significant to him that he starts his demanding bark and complementing whine at least one hour before his meal is expected, which makes dinner time in our house that much more fun. So, as you can imagine it is quite a surprise that he is not touching his food. He is being aloof about his food even. Me being me, I have pondered and worried about this new phenomenon. Is he sick? Is he dying? Is he tired of the same kibble? Why? I have analyzed and hypothesized… and then I saw it. The answer to my question came in the form of a newly walking baby girl who thinks she lives at a petting zoo and Bruiser is her own personal pigmy hippo or ring tailed lemur, or some type of animal that is allowed to eat senseless amounts of food from sweaty little palms at a God forsaken stench filled petting zoo.

My sweet little baby girl has been walking for two weeks, and subsequently has found new uses for her free hands, which benefits Bruiser in such a supreme way that he must think he has checked into dog heaven a little earlier than expected. His ship has come in, and he is reveling in his own glee. No, I wouldn’t eat dry, crunchy, foul tasting dog food if I was being hand fed the delicacies found left over on a baby’s high chair. I saw their little scheme with my own eyes, and couldn’t help but smile. After Evie finishes her meals I wipe her down and get her out of her high chair, which has been lowered to the shortest setting so she can easily reach her tray when she’s standing on the floor. She reaches back onto her tray takes a bite of any morsel she can seize and gives the rest to the shameless dog who sits expectantly at her feet. The astonishing part of the whole event was that Bruiser tenderly and ever so carefully licks the food off of her hand. I watched in amazement as the pair repeated the act several times. Both were in their glory. Of course I had to show my husband at dinner that night. We quietly observed from afar like spectators at the zoo. The two have such a cute relationship. It almost warms your heart. Almost…but then I discovered what was becoming of the dog food that sat uneaten in the stainless steel bowl. Two guesses…..?

It’s like a food cycle gone wrong. I don’t know what to call it. The only thing that comes to mind is The Great Food Swap! My sweet little baby girl thinks that weight management dry dog food is a delicacy that must be swiped swiftly and quietly in warm, chubby, little baby hands and whisked quickly to a second location to be enjoyed in privacy and quiet. I don’t know how long it has been going on. I don’t know how to accept it. Right under my nose the smallest creatures of the house have been swapping food with a silent understanding and sense of respect for each other’s diet, and they’ve been enjoying it.

I’m sad to say that their fun is over now. The free trade agreement between species has been severed. It means more work for me. For now, I have to put the dog food in a secret location, and I have to clean Evie’s tray immediately. I see the sad, longing glances between them. Had it not been a major sanitary issue I would still be turning my head and ‘ignoring’ the swapping. The relationship between baby and dog was so sweet, so trusting. I realized that as adults, sadly, we have a lot we could learn from a baby and a dog’s relationship. The two cannot speak to each other, do not look remotely similar, but yet they have a pure, loving, kindly relationship in which they are each openly willing to share what means the most to them…food.

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