[I'd like to thank my copyediting certificate course and ACES for teaching me to include the apostrophes in that title.]
I’ve just taken P to her last basic training class (thanks also to St. Hubert's). Q was left at home with a nice bone stuffed with peanut butter. He was too busy gazing at us in semi-panic mode when we were leaving to have at it, but I figured he’d go back to it once he could concentrate on the smell.
We returned, and after they’d done their usual ‘haven’t seen you for years old fruit’ happy dance around each other, P homed right in on the bone. I figured there couldn’t be any peanut butter left in it, so sure, go ahead. Bit of time passes and suddenly she’s snapping at Q. I think he only now remembered it and was trying to get close enough to nab it from her. But pb is a precious commodity in this house and P was NOT sharing. Q acquiesced, lying pathetically in his grief just beyond growling reach.
So, feeding. And dog language.
What they think should be the correct pecking order and what we think could be two different things. It has also shifted over time. Neither dog was interested in food the first couple of days we had them. They’d been starving in a field, alert readers will remember, and were feral about their food when they were fostered. (Too much alliteration? I submit that sometimes I succumb to susurrous syllables.) Their foster mother put a big bowl of food in the middle of the room and left it there, so all the puppies could learn they didn’t have to fight to eat. Obviously it worked well, as P & Q’s fear of the new house overcame their need for food that first day or so. Anticipating struggles over the resource once they got hungry, we separated their bowls. Whether it was that or their natural love of each other, but there were no squabbles. One would walk right past the other's bowl to get to his/her own.
However, Q then began to take charge of the food, even though P is the dominant dog in most other situations. Until we changed to adult food, P was pretty blasé about her dinner and if we weren’t careful Q would scarf down his and hers before she could be bothered to go look for it.
(Another ‘big dog’ tip: the puppy food bag says to feed puppy food for a year, sometimes longer. I’ve been told by two trainers that for a big dog, you don’t want to give puppy food for long, because big dogs need to grow more slowly so their bones can handle their weight. One told me she never gives her big dogs puppy food. The other suggested swapping at four or five months. So we did, and P is a lot more interested in feeding now. Also, the amount suggested on the bag is for un-neutered dogs, who use more energy, being randy little buggers, so you should be feeding your sweet innocent spayed pooch 35% less.)
Now who am I to say that if P isn’t bothered about Q taking her food, I should be? But, yeah, we don’t want one chubby puppy and one skinny one, so we nixed that right away. We also make them both sit and wait while we put down their bowls. I don’t want both of them going for one bowl and getting in a fight because of it, especially not with my fingers in the vicinity. And as shown above, there are times when P is the Queen P when it comes to food, and Q just has to get the scraps, literally.
Today I did take the bone from her and gave it to him, since I’m the boss and she shouldn’t steal his stuff (there I go again with the alliteration), then made her do a couple of sits and stays and come heres before I gave her one just for her. Which Q promptly ogled, having apparently completely forgotten about his. *sigh* you can lead the pooch to water…
Multi-award-winning author Kimberley Ash is a British ex-pat who has lived in and loved New Jersey for almost thirty years. When not writing romance, she can usually be found cleaning up after her two big white furry dogs and slightly less furry children. Her trilogy, The Van Allen Brothers, was released by Tule Publishing in 2019. In 2022 and 2023, under her own publishing company, Tea Rose Publishing, she published the first three of four books in the Fieldings series.