Our dog has discriminating tastes.  He’s not exactly like the dog from the beggin’ strips ad, or the dog from the Beneful ad, though he resembles the former.  For years, we have had to coax him to eat his dog food.  Mr. Apron, though not schooled in generations of dog ownership, had never seen a healthy young dog who didn’t fairly squee with joy and anticipation of his food being put down.  As for myself, I grew up in a household where dog food was left out for the animals to graze on throughout the day.  The dogs of my youth managed their appetites and weights just fine, and certainly enjoyed their kibble. 

Finley, however, is different.  He’s not overly picky, per se.  We’ve tried him on every variety of cheap dog chow, and some varieties of expensive stuff.  He just seems to enjoy a little something extra.  I have to say, if I had to eat the same dry food day after day, I’d grow a little bored, too.  For about a year, Mr. Apron had a ritual where he’d make a big fuss of putting a broken-up milk bone on top, as garnish. And sometimes this would work.  Sometimes not.  Unfortunately, we could not just leave it down for him to get hungry, as we soon contracted a fatal case of mice infestation, and guess what food they like best?  Yes, dog food.  They actually managed to chew through the sealed rubbermaid container to get into his foo, so tasty it was to them.  Nor did the old adage of “He’ll eat when he’s hungry”, as there seemed to be no pattern to when it would eat.  I’ve also read that many dogs will eat until they burst, having less of a full/hungry sensation than humans. 

Mr. Apron’s father, on dog-walking duty one day, struck upon the ketchup that began gracing the fridge after I moved in (Mr. Apron himself won’t touch the stuff ), and squirted some in Finley’s bowl.  Hence was born the special sauce.  To this day, it’s the magic elixir that will get him to eat on those days when soy milk is not enough.  Yes, I said soy milk.  I can’t truthfully recall how we discovered this one.  I’m a lactard, as previously disclosed.  I’ve converted Mr. Apron, who never much cared for cow milk, to using soy milk in his cereal.  So when we’re done eating cereal, instead of drinking the leftover dribs and drabs of milk, we pour it into one bowl, and dress Finley’s food.  He waits, attentively, eagerly anticipating the time when the liquid will drop.  He laps up the milk first, then goes for the kibble.  It truly is specific to soy milk.  Once, when Mr. Apron had cow milk in his bowl, and gave that to Finley, he sniffed it, and flatly rejected the whole concoction.  But soy…that’s the stuff.  And it works, at least during the week.  Often on weekends, we have bagel sandwiches, or go out for brunch, or, on rare occasion, make eggs, pancakes, and the like.  On these days, he makes a silent prayer for bacon, cheese, eggs, bagel, or whatever we feel like dropping.  That may not be enough for his dog food, though.  On these days, we resort to another tomato product: watered down pasta sauce.  When we finish a jar of Classico, I fill it back up with water, which takes on the flavor of the sauce.  We slosh it on his grub, and he chows down.  This is especially helpful when we’re at my parents’ house, or dog-sitting, when there are other dogs vying for competition, who may eat his food if he doesn’t get to it fast enough.  Yes, we have our tricks. 

And Finley has his treats.  While generally a well behaved beast, he does bark his head off sometimes for attention, and he has destroyed one hollow-core door and one dog gate, trying to escape unknown assailants (probably flies).  He doesn’t counter surf, doesn’t beg for food audibly, and hasn’t gotten into the trash in 6 years.  He politely sniffs groceries when I come home from the market, but has only one time ever gone into a bag to pull out his favorite food:  broccoli.  Sure, many dogs like carrots, and maybe some dogs like mini-wheats, but Finley is absolutely coo-coo for broccoli.  When it comes out of the fridge for stir fry, or for hors d’oeuvres, he trails that floret like he’s suddenly become a bloodhound.  He sits, focused as a border collie, hoping, praying for a stalk.  We usually give him some of the very fibrous end stalks unfit for human consumption.  We save others in a ziploc in the fridge for use as “green shut-up sticks”, when company shows up and he wants to be the center of attention, or when he’s forgotten how to entertain himself, or when we’d like to be punished later in the evening by his farts.  Yes, he can digest the stalks, and never seems to be in any GI discomfort during or after the treat, but he does let ’em rip later that night.  You know the smell — cafeteria-steamed, army-green florets in a humid lunchroom mixed with locker bologna and some other unidentifiable permanent smell that is probably closely allied with gym socks. 

But hey, he’s happy.  And who can put a price on that?  Finley digs his greens so much that when we visit our crunchy Vermont friends and take him along, he dives headlong into their compost pile.  Worms are great for composting, but I think Finley’s more efficient.  I mean, you’ve got a usable product in 24 hours.  Worms can’t begin to compete. 

How about you?  What do your pets enjoy?  Shredded wheat?  Carrots?  Dried squid?  Apple cores?

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