2017-06-16 / Commentary

The Whims of Whitman

I’m just saying...
Julia Rogers Hook

“Roy, are you and Henry OK for now? Do you need anything from inside?”

I was asking this of two of our best friends who were recent houseguests as they and my husband Marty were relaxing and watching television on our screened-in back porch.

They both looked up and assured me they were fine.

“OK…if you don’t need anything, I’m going to feed Whitman.”

Roy and Henry exchanged puzzled looks, and Marty smiled knowingly.

“Um…okaaaay,” Roy answered me. “What does that have to do with us?”

“Oh you can’t go inside when His Majesty is eating,” Marty gleefully answered.

“Why not?” Henry wanted to know.

“It will distract him,” Marty chortled.

The three of them had a good chuckle as I sighed and went inside to begin the feeding ritual for my 95-pound standard poodle.

My dog definitely has food issues. His food has to be served a certain way—chopped into small bites, and in a certain dish—sometimes on a plate and sometimes in a bowl, depending on his mood.

He’s also picky about where he eats. He usually likes to eat in the kitchen but occasionally he demands his food be taken upstairs to his bed in our room. And while he will do his “happy dance” on one day if I bring home an aromatic baked chicken, the very next day he’ll turn his nose up to it and give me a baleful look of deep disappointment.

My husband, along with a whole slew of friends and family, think I’m crazy to pamper him this way. They all tell me repeatedly that “he’s a DOG,” and “he’ll eat when he’s hungry,” but I still persist in torturing myself trying to meet his canine requirements along with keeping him nutritionally sound.

And it’s always a little awkward when we have company because one thing is for certain… Whit won’t eat if somebody besides me is watching.

I have no idea why this is or even when it started. When Whit came to us, he ate dry food. Period. He had a set of aluminum dog dishes for his food and water and that was that. After a day or two, I noticed he wasn’t touching his dry food, so I went to the store to get him some wet to mix with it, thinking that would entice him to indulge.

It didn’t.

It was probably then I began the “what will Whitnman eat today” game. Over the years, he has gone from what Marty calls a “normal dog” to what he now refers to as “one ruined poodle!”

But Whit isn’t ruined at all. He’s just acquired a more “enlightened taste” for the variety of available foods. He could do commercials for the local restaurants and markets. For instance…his baked chicken? It has to be from Publix.

I have on occasion and out of convenience, gotten it from other stores, and he knows the difference. When it’s fried, he will eat the Bojangles’ and the KFC, but oh how he loves Zesto! He can smell a bucket of Zesto chicken from the mailbox, and he practically does backflips.

He’s not so finicky with his burgers, but he does seem to have an affinity for the Wendy’s patties more so than any, but his all-time favorite are the ones Marty makes. He starts smacking his chops from the minute the hamburger meat comes out of the fridge all the way till it’s off the grill. And while he would never beg, as we eat, he likes to sit in a prominent spot in the kitchen, so everyone will notice he’s “waiting” for HIS turn.

But Henry and Roy were only vaguely aware of all these shenanigans I go through to make sure my dog eats. They just thought it was odd I wouldn’t let anyone in the kitchen as he ate. As with most of our visitors though, by the end of their stay, they too took to peeking around corners and walking lightly if there was a chance I was feeding him.

Except Henry. Henry agreed with Marty that a dog will eat when he’s hungry. And apparently he was able to convince Whitman of that. One night, Whitman came out to the porch licking his doggy lips followed by Henry.

“I fed Whitman,” Henry announced.

“You what?” I asked, stunned.

“I fed the dog. He’s eaten. He ate two platefuls of his food.”

“Whaaaat? But how? What did you do?”

“I put a can of his wet food on a paper plate and he ate it. Why?”

“You chopped up a can of dog food on a paper plate and he ATE it?” I was amazed.

“No…I just put it on the plate, and he ate it. And he looked like he wanted another, so I gave it to him, and he ate that too. Should I give him three?

At that moment, Whitman looked at me and burped. A very satisfied burp.

Henry may have to move in with us. Permanently.

I’m just saying…

Return to top