Today the 5 Elder Wieners had their first encounter with Senior Diet dog food. This generic brand of kibble is found at warehouse stores and reflects the realities of recession driven family finances, and an aging household. It’s a far cry and a long way from their gourmet Grass Fed Wilderness Alaskan Caribou/Pacific Cold Water Wild Salmon Meaty Chunks with Sweet Potato that makes our VERY occasional filet mignon look like Bargain Beef at the Dollar Store.
The problem is lately the Elder Wieners have been spending a lot of time in bed. Their interest in hunting has flagged: unless the occasional mouse or squirrel peers under the door sill and whistles sharply, they really can’t be bothered. It is true that it has started raining more, the sunlight is thin and the air biting. It is also true that they are all age 8 to 13 years old and we are experiencing senior dog issues. They’re all overweight. A couple have weak kidneys. Fritz wears -blind dog head gear and adult dog diapers. Halitosis is rampant, general crankiness abounds and we have creaky, arthritic slow starts to the day. My husband is the unhappy point man going into a dark room who discovers the random pile of dog poop when SOMEONE can’t quite make it to the door in time. I feel like I’m running a nursing home for dogs. Worse,it’s obvious we’re not far behind them.
So we came to it, this week. Getting down to a proper weight is the one thing I can control. No more fatty people foods, gourmet dog chow and treats. I dumped a couple cups of the new diet dog food in their bowl and winced as I watched the reaction. Opening the bag did get their attention due to the crinkly noise that usually portends treats of some kind, so at first they all moved forward in a little excited, status- shuffling huddle. The dry kibble hit the bowl with the empty rattle of reduced calories. The smell of the kibble was less than enticing: rather like dried cat poop without the jenais se que of the fresh variety. The 5 Wieners gave a disappointed communal sniff and turned away, already forlorn, as if they knew this was breakfast, lunch, and dinner for the rest of their sad lives. I watched them shuffle to their piles of blankets, burrow in and hide their heads. I felt like a wretch. Even Phoebe’s four puppies in their pen looked at me wide eyed with some dawning understanding of the monstrousness of the situation. Quelle horreur! No savory odors emanating from the Elder’s food bowl! No delicious crunchy yet chewy morsels of chicken and beef in gravy! No more greasy bacon ends and rich yellow egg yolks glistening on the breakfast plates! No crispy salted hash brown bits and generously buttered toast crusts, no juicy hamburger morsels rimmed with glistening smears of mayo, or bowls of creamy milk residue with cookie crumbs floating in them! The delicious slivers of chicken wing meat! The fatty little slabs of steak right off the fork! The puppies knew! Every dog is born with an intuitive knowledge of these things. It is, after all, why they hung around our campfires for so long.
Dried cat dung served for brunch would never have gotten them within 5 miles of our campfires. And without a quid, there would have been no quo. The very idea of eating our usual fare in front of them, hopeful brown eyes tracking the fork as we shovel in the good stuff, seemed to break the unspoken social contract between man and beast.
Besides, the handwriting is on the mirror hanging on the wall. We’re all going to have to eat the fucking kibble.