Today in My History2000: Moments to Remember
2001: ** On vacation **
2002: I'm Melting, Melting--Oh What a World
2003: How to Sabotage Yourself in 9 Easy Steps
2004: A Plague of Locust
2005: How Quickly We Forget
2006: I Did Not Have Sexual Relations with That Woman
2008: Homeland Security
2009: The Tea Set
Hughie and Krapp's Last Tape
Books Read in 2010
"The Cat Who Knew a Cardinal"
Recipes for Cousins Day Drinks
(updated 3/17/10) And Then I Ate
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Mirror Site for RSS Feed
FINDING THE INNER WOLF
14 May 2010
They say dogs are descended from wolves, which is one of the reasons why most dogs "wolf" their food down. Wolves can't afford to be picky--whatever is there, they eat it as quickly as possible in order to get enough because the whole pack is doing the same thing.
Most of the time Sheila manages to find her inner wolf pretty well. She sits quietly by the back door waiting for her bowl of food and then scarfs it down in a matter of seconds. But she is polite. She won't try to steal food from the others dogs, each of whom has her own place to eat -- Lizzie by the water cooler, Emmy by the stove, and Polly in the cage.
Lizzie, on the other hand, couldn't find her inner wolf if it jumped down her throat. Lizzie would have you believe that she lives for food. Open a jar of peanut butter, the refrigerator or the dishwasher and she's there in an instant, hoping for a treat or ready to pre-rinse the dinner dishes for me.
Whisper "treat time," which I do when leaving the house (they each get a piece of a jerky-like treat, which they love) and she will come running from the far corner of the back yard.
Put her outside and give Polly treats, as trainer Val does, trying to win her over, and Lizzie will leap over and over again--"I want some TOO!"
Try to eat dinner and watch her stare intently at my plate and my hands, hoping I will pass her a tasty morcel.
But put dog food? in a dish? on the floor? and you'd think that I'd offered the Queen of England a hot dog wrapped in a napkin, with mustard dripping off of it. Surely the other dogs must be getting something better. She follows me from dish to dish, checking carefully to make sure that nobody has something she doesn't have. Then she returns to contemplate her meal. She knows there is something better than mere dog food around here somewhere.
Things weren't quite so bad before Emmy arrived, but Emmy has a touch of Lizzie in her. She knows which bowl is hers, but first she has to check to make sure that Polly isn't getting anything better (nobody will check out Sheila's bowl because she will scare them off with a well timed loud growl). By the time she's checked out Polly's bowl, Lizzie has left her own, so Emmy will eat Lizzie's food. And once Emmy has walked away from Polly's bowl, Polly has to follow her in hope that she knows where you can get better stuff. Lizzie will sniff at Polly's now-deserted bowl and take a bite or two. Emmy will take a bite or two of Lizzie's dish, and Polly will wander around ,not sure whose bowl to eat out of.
Ultimately, I just throw up my hands and walk out of the room, letting them all decide for themselves where they want to eat. I suspect that most of the time it's Sheila who actually finishes all the leftovers in everybody's bowl, but nobody seems to be starving to death, so I guess it's all working out all right.
Valerie's work with Polly is producing some results, but progress is painfully slow. Two times ago, Polly actually got to where she would take food out of her hand. Sometimes. The last time, Val didn't even have to toss a couple of trial treats onto the floor. Polly just walked right up to her -- warily, of course -- and took treats from her hand. Valerie moved on to the next step where, as she was giving Polly a treat, she moved the empty hand out to where Polly could see it.
Well, you'd have think she had shot her. Polly leaped back and it took the rest of the session before she would trust Valerie enough to come close enough to take a treat out of her hand again.
Today she had back-slid a couple of times and it took most of the day to get her to eat out of Valerie's hand again and she never did get to be as relaxed as she was before. It was like she was deciding to take charge and train Valerie to drop the treat instead of going to eat it out of her hand.
It would be nice to know what this little girl's background is. They guesstimate she is about a year old, but she was dropped off at the shelter, so nobody knows what her first year was like. She sure is afraid of everybody but me...and most of the time (but not all of the time), Walt. It makes me sad that she must have been treated badly enough that she is so leery of people, because she's such a loving, affectionate little thing.
But all we can do is love her and continue to help her trust us and hope that sooner or later, someone is going to fall in love with her and be willing to put in the time to get her to trust them too.
It would kill me if I found out that someone adopted her
and then mistreated her again (which is one reason I am so very glad that the SPCA doesn't
rush adoptions, but waits until they think they have found the right person for each dog).
PHOTO OF THE DAY