Each night before bedtime, the small dog alerts us to her looming starvation. Never mind that she gobbled up her dinner at the stroke of 5 pm. The night is dark...and full of hunger. A dog could perish, damn it!
It starts with a subtle stare. Or what would be subtle, if her googling eyes were just a touch less prominent.
If delicious treats do not instantly piñata from the ceiling, she begins to huff and caper about.
Alas, not all dog-treats are created equal.
After two years of peaceable enjoyment of her Milk-bone dog biscuits (GravyBones for Medium to Small Dogs!), Lilly started to turn up her nose at them. She couldn't handle the crunch. Her poor rotten teeth...
The dog-food companies understand the impulse to indulge one's pet. The advertising rhetoric is crude ("If you love your pet, feed him..." or "Doesn't your pet deserve --?"), and the products often reflect the same nutritional shortcomings of human snack-food: high sodium, low fiber, refined sugars, preservatives, artificial coloring.
When a food deity drops a sub-optimal treat into her gullet, the small dog spits the offending item to the floor and then turns her googling eyes back to the heavens.
"Eat it!" one of the gods tells her. Another roars, "That's a delicious snack!"
The dog looks momentarily distracted. Perhaps that WAS one of the good ones. She noses the dropped treat.
If she does not immediately set-to, there is a further round of hearty encouragement from the food gods.
If the treat still does not pass muster, she may bark her displeasure -- which calls for heavy artilliary.
We begin the shell game: I put a bare foot over the cookie and tell her that I would be delighted to receive such a treat. Denied access, she grows more interested. She does not like feet. Feet make her agitated and jumpy, which in turn gives her a less persnickety appetite for the forbidden fruit.
Snorting and panting, she manages to zip in, get her mouth around the treat, and tear off to a safe distance, where she gobbles without evident relish, hurrying to get it safely stowed in her belly. Then she trots back to the couch to announce her requirement for a second course.