Friday, November 22, 2013

The Hungry Games

When I was a kid, my mom used to make us eat something before going visiting, even if we were going to someone's house for dinner. This made no sense to me. Why eat when we're going there to eat?

"Because when you don't eat, you get evil."

It sounds like a terrible thing to say to a child, but the fact is, she was right. We'd be cranky, surly and more obnoxious than usual at the first sign of hunger. Best to make a preemptive strike.

The torch has been passed in my house (or, rather shared: I still have to keep from getting too hungry if I want to remain civil). But it's not only my children who share the trait, apparently. It's also my dog.

When the kids get home from school, they are hungry. I know it because they eat lunch at noon or before, and don't get home until three or later. It would make sense that the first thing they do after dropping their backpacks is open the fridge and rummage, but no, that's not how it works. Their brains are still back at school. They take off their coats, pet the dogs, start their homework, read the mail. Usually, I'm still writing or doing some other work, so I let them do their thing and I do mine. Until the fighting starts.

"Mom, Jacob won't let me have the comic book that was in my spot before he took it."

"No, Mom, he's had it there for two days. The only reason he wants to read it now is because I want to read it."

"Gimme it!"

"It's my turn!"


That's when it dawns on me that no one has eaten yet.

"Who wants a snack?" I offer.

Suddenly, the book is no longer important. A pop tart and a glass of milk later, everyone is happily sitting and reading, the fight forgotten.

One of my dogs, it seems, has also picked up this habit of becoming obnoxious when he wants to eat. The problem is, he's a dog. So he *always* wants to eat. In fact, my beagle will often go out and eat random who-knows-what from under the leaves when we walk right after breakfast. I know his stomach is full, so it must be a dog thing. Rather than try to decide when they are truly hungry, it's easier to just put them on a schedule and stick to it. I mean, come on. If they could talk, they'd say they were hungry all the time.

The dogs' dinner time is five pm. Lately, though, this has not been early enough for Flash. We go for a walk at three, and when we come back, each dog gets a biscuit. This has been our routine for over a year. Suddenly it's not enough of a snack. It seems it just gets the juices flowing, because for the last week or so, the biscuit has flipped some switch in Flash's brain. From 3:30 until 5:00, he just barks non-stop.

The first day it happened, I went downstairs to investigate. I knew he didn't need to go out again, so I checked to make sure Bailey wasn't in Flash's bed. Nope.

Maybe he wanted water. Check the water bowl. Empty? Nope.

Is someone outside the door? Nope.

I let him in to the playroom and gave him fresh water, then called him over to it. He walked right by and started sniffing the dog food bin.

"Uh, Flash?" I say, checking my watch. "Nope. You have an hour and a half to go."

Maybe it's because it's winter and he wants to fill out so he'll be warmer. Or maybe he's just overheard my conversations with the kids after school. Whatever it is, he has been wanting more of a snack after his walk, and has no problem complaining about it. But until they make beef flavored pop tarts, I'm just going to have to deal with his getting evil. The barking is just his little game to see how much I can take before feeding him ahead of schedule.

So far, I'm winning. But I make no guarantees: when the weather gets cold and dark and I can't retreat to the porch to get away from the noise, I may just have to start looking for those doggie pop tarts. Until then, let the games continue.


ProfeJMarie (Janet Rundquist) said...

My sister taught me the valuable hint of making sure the mid/late-afternoon snack for my kids was a protein one. HUGE help. Maybe protein water will help the dog. Haha. :)

Christine Adler said...

That's a great idea, Janet! :D I wonder if they make bacon flavored protein water...

ProfeJMarie (Janet Rundquist) said...

There's bacon-everything now - I'm SURE that bacon water exists. :)