Friday, April 20, 2012

What type of a foodie is your dog?

My mother used to come home from work at 3pm and have dinner around 3:45 or 4pm.  I was always still at my job, so that meant that my mother and my dog were in the house alone together.  Despite her dislike of cooking, my mother was temperamentally incapable of refusing anyone food while she was eating.  So this meant that after microwaving her slab of meat or boiling her chicken, she'd pour beef fat or chicken broth all over my dog's kibble, and often give my dog a piece of Swiss cheese, as their shared dessert (mom did not eat sweets).

"Your dog is fat," the vet would say, even before he weighed her.

My dog is now on the heavy side of normal rather than an overstuffed taco of a chihuahua. I feed her lean dog food, give her lean dog treats, and her only people food is a bit of skinless breast meat or the occasional cashew or empty nut butter jar to lick.  Sadly, I think she reflects upon the years my mother was alive with great fondness as 'the good years' of her food history.

I realize that not all dog appetites are created alike, however.  My first dog was a chihuahua-corgi cross, and very fussy.  She was a stray, so its possible that she developed a reluctance of eating anything strong-smelling or tasting as a survival mechanism, unlike my current pooch. Either that, or it was the British corgi blood that was 'not amused' by commercial dog food.

I've concluded that dog foodie types fall into several categories:

The Inhaler

You haven't had to wash your kitchen floor since 2003, when you got the dog. Crumbs, flour dusting, drippings, even carrot tops get sucked down. Teaching your baby to eat people food required no cleanup.  Your children have not ingested vegetables since 2005, when they discovered that they could surreptitiously feed them to the dog beneath the table. The upside is that you can feed him any kind of food and he will eat it gladly. The downside is that you should really start a savings account to pay for the intestinal surgery he will surely need at some point.

The Food Critic

You started her with regular dog food, or the brand your vet recommended. She didn't like that, so you tried another one.  She ate it for a few weeks, then refused it.  You tried waiting out her food strike, but then she got sick and your vet suggested chicken and rice, to encourage her appetite.  Six months later you were still feeding her chicken.  Then she decided she only liked white meat and you weren't cutting it up in small enough pieces. Totally frustrated, you tried to put her back on the first brand of dog food you ever bought. She ate it for six months happily, refused to eat, suddenly one day...and the cycle continues...

The Puker

Self-explanatory.  Never seems to feel sick after puking. Always manages to do it on a rug or a couch, rather than something easy to clean like the kitchen floor. And just when you're in a rush, leaving for work....

The Aficionado

Has an affinity for one type of food (chicken, steak, McDonald's French fries, pizza) and will go into an ecstatic frenzy every time he smells or sees it. Has thrown himself on top of your table or onto your lap to gently persuade you that he deserves a bite.  Tries to express his fondness for a uni-diet by not eating dog food for weeks after getting to binge on his favorite food on his birthday or a holiday.


This dog is not particularly interested in either human or dog food. However, shredded paper towels, socks, underwear, poisonous berries, toilet water, the wrappers of candy bars (but not the candy bars themselves) call to him like a siren song.

The Thrill-Seeker

This dog is irresistibly lured to eating chocolate, coffee, macadamia nuts, alcohol, and all other substances on the 'do not feed your dog these foods' list. No joke here--I have heard of dogs dying from eating chocolate, but one of my neighbor's dogs managed to eat an entire bag of Nestle's semisweet chocolate chips when she turned her back on him during a round of Christmas baking. The dog, miraculously, was fine, but the grass never quite looked the same.


  1. I'm smilling pretty big right now thanks to this one. It brought back a lot memories of my pup. She was likely closest to the "Aficionado" as there were a few things that she especially loved. But she was also quite picky, surprisingly so sometimes.
    My parents were notorious for feeding her from the table (even outside of her gourmet meals). My dad always tried to be real sly about it, but I knew :). But fat as she was, Ivy was always happy :).
    Thanks :)

  2. @Aww...Ivy sounds like a true 'foodie family' dog--it's amazing how dogs can 'convince' you that they are so hungry and need say, pizza crusts, which you know they shouldn't have, even when they still have kibble in the dish. Asta doesn't have that kind of discipline, but my first dog Lucky was the master of the 'expert refusal.'

  3. My cat wasn't really an inhaler, but I do think her best day ever was the time I stupidly tried to transfer a piece of baked salmon from the stove to the plate using an ordinary table knife. I don't know how she knew that splat sound meant a fancy fish dinner for her, but she came running before I'd even realized that my dinner would just be broccoli. Mostly she was like Adam's dog, a combination of aficionado and food critic. And also a puker because she was a cat, after all.

  4. @flurrious--I haven't owned a cat, so I was afraid to include any feline references, but your cat deserves extra 'points' for her quickness. I love salmon (particularly with broccoli), so the fight probably would have been ugly between the two of us!

    Cats also have an additional 'foodie' tendency of sharing the food they forage. I remember watching the barn cat where I ride tucking into a small bird while I was tacking up. She paused and looked at me, and I swear I could hear her think: "I'm sorry, but there really isn't enough for the two of us." And I thought back: "that's quite alright. I already ate."