This column has nothing to do with our current obsessions. It has nothing to do with Donald Trump, Joe Biden or the election in any of its manifestations. Of course, it has nothing to do with the pandemic either. After all, as Trump’s Chief of Staff, Mark Meadows, told us, the administration that governs us until it doesn’t, has no intention of trying to control the spread of the virus (if it ever did), so why bother talking about it? As Trump more or less said, “Covid, Covid, Covid,” that’s all the fake news can talk about. So, I won’t talk about it. And I won’t mention any of those things in this column (maybe).
So, what else is there to talk about? What is a subject that has absolutely nothing to do with any of that unpleasant stuff? My dog, that’s what.
Max (that’s his name) doesn’t care a whit about any of that stuff. He just cares about having a comfortable place to sleep, some people to love him (a feeling that he’s happy to return), having his rear end (head, chin, chest, forehead, etc.) scratched, a few animals to chase or just keep an eye on, some toys to chew on, pull on, rip up, carry around in his huge mouth, and lying next to me or on my feet while I sit at the computer. Doesn’t sound like a bad life, does it? Maybe you’re envious.
Oh. Max is a Bullmastiff. 140 pounds of brawn, of muscle and bone, thus explaining how big his mouth is. He likes to watch TV and talk to the dogs and horses on the screen. He likes to talk to us, too, emitting an astonishing number of mewls, grunts, howls, groans, even a bark or two. He likes to sleep on his back these days, all four paws up in the air. He’s quite a sight in his very male, unaltered state.
Did I mention that he likes to eat? No? Well, there’s no time like the present. Max likes to eat, just like the rest of us. But what? Ah, there’s the rub.
As a puppy, feeding Max was no problem. He ate the kibble he’d eaten as a newborn, soaked in some water in order to soften it up (Bullmastiffs tend to inhale their food). Then he turned 2, pretty much an adult age for a dog. When we brought him home at 12 weeks, he weighed 31 pounds. Now he was 140 lbs and it was time to switch his food to something more appropriate to an adult already at his more or less grown up weight.
First, we tried him on an adult food that was designed for big guys like him. Let’s call it Brand A. He loved it, although he no longer wanted any water with it. He’s a chewer, not an inhaler. Water on the side, please. Within several days a problem became evident. He became a gas machine. Fart after fart after fart. Pause. Repeat. It didn’t seem to bother him, but it sure bothered us. Open the windows, please!
Perhaps I should note that Kaneel, our first dog, a German Short-Haired Pointer, also liked to eat (well, for God’s sake, who doesn’t?) but also had some idiosyncrasies. For example, she liked to have company while eating. In fact, she wouldn’t eat unless others joined in. Food could sit in her dish all day and she wouldn’t touch it until others sat down for a meal. Let’s say, she was a firm advocate for family values. She also liked to play with her food. She’d take a piece of kibble and toss it in the air and chase it across the living room. She also liked to steal bagels from kids in strollers as we walked up Broadway on NYC’s Upper West Side when H&H Bagels was still in business.
Her successor, Daisy, was a Bullmastiff given to us by friends when she was 3 years old. She was a delight for the 6 years we had her before having to put her down because of an incurable degenerative spinal disease. But she ate the same food from the day we got her to the day she died. She insisted on eating at regularly scheduled intervals, a schedule she was intimately familiar with. If it was time to eat, she’d sit in front of you and whack you with her paw. Let me tell you that although she was a lightweight at 115 lbs compared to Max’s 140, she could still pack quite a wallop. She’d continue doing it until you got up to feed her at which point she’d lie down and patiently wait, pretending that she was completely disinterested in the preparations.
But back to Max, and his transition to adulthood. Wishing not to be farted out of house and home, we decided to try Brand B.
A brief digression. Lots of you have had kids at one time in your life (believe it or not, even you were one if those strange, magical and infuriating creatures once). One thing you might remember (or not) is that when your kids were 2, they’d eat anything. And then they got to be 5. “No green!” became the rallying cry. Well, Max completely understands the phenomenon. So, you will understand what I mean when Max said, “No,” to Brand B, turning his nose up in disdain at the mere whiff of it.
On to Brand C. This looked promising. He actually ate a couple of meals before he turned his back on it.
On to Brand D, this a variant of the food he’d happily eaten when a puppy. This looked promising. He ate for a couple of days before turning his back on it. “Enough is enough!,” said my wife. She decided to add a bit of one of Max’s favorite food groups, Peanut Butter, to his meal (It’s one of mine, too). This worked for a couple of days and then not. How about Kraft Singles? Well, yes, too, for a couple of days but …
Clearly this required some higher-level conjuring. How about adding some canned dog food to the kibble? Brand E was rejected. Brand D1, made by the same manufacturer of his semi-acceptable Brand D food, this a combination of chicken & rice, was tried and rejected. But, finally, Brand D2, a combination of beef & rice, actually did the trick but only if it was pre-heated. So, a formula was arrived at: ¼ can of Brand D2, preheated, ½ mixed into the kibble and the other half dotting the top. Really? All this just to feed a dog? (Shrugging shoulders) Well, yeah.
So Max is now happy, as are we. We can stop tearing our hair out and return to our more usual obsessions. But you will notice, I haven’t said a word about … well, you know what. It really is possible, right?
Uh, have you voted yet? Sorry about that.