Friday, July 22, 2011

A Dog Named Blitz - Chapter Five, "One Year Old" Part 5

For background on this serial, please click here. You can also start at the previous section 

While it was a challenge to get Blitz into her vest, it was an even bigger challenge getting her to lay off people food.  My philosophy on feeding the dog was that all she would ever eat would be dog food, and high quality dog food at that.  In my hunting days I've seen too many fat dogs that are spoiled by their owners, under the auspices of loving them, by giving the dog people food.  In just about every case, the dog ages poorly, carries too much weight, and ultimately has a tough time hunting, and eventually with their health.  How unfair is that to the dog?  If you could ask a dog if they wanted that hunk of steak fat or to hunt another hour (or year), the lab would always choose the latter.   

Well, not really.  They'd want the steak first, and then to go hunting.   

But faced with an "either/or," while their stomach dictates much of what they do, their heart cannot be denied.  That is the beauty of a Labrador.   

I expected my dog to be an elite athlete, and as such she needed to be fueled like one.  That meant expensive dog food and nothing else.  It was a price I was willing to pay.  My brand of choice has always been Eukanuba.  It is what Blitz was first fed as a pup when training at Holzinger's Kennels, and I've never switched since.  Beyond the great performance it has provided for my dogs, it's fun to say.  Eukanuba.  It sounds like a line from Star Wars uttered by Jabba the Hut, "Eu ka nu ba, Han Solo.  Ha ha ha!"   

Unfortunately, what I expect out of my dog I don't expect from myself, and I pay the price for it.  That price has been low to this point, but inflation is coming.  I really need to heed my own philosophy.   

While Blitz was always denied people food, that didn't mean that she didn't hunger for it.  In fact, because it had always been verboten, it drove her even more crazy to find a way to get to it.  And she was consistently creative in her approach.  One such strategy was the "bull rush."  This occurred every time when we arrived at the duck camp.  My hands would always be full of gear and groceries, and the dog would be waiting at the door at my feet to get inside the house and meet the other dogs and hunters at camp.  Or at least that was the story she'd be selling.  What she actually wanted was the ability to dash to the kitchen, tip over the garbage can, and scarf down what she could before being hauled out of mess and punished.   

Every time went the same way - the door would explode open, accelerated by Blitz pushing hard against it to try and buy a few more seconds in the forbidden refuse.  I'd hear howls of "Blitz!," and "Look at her go!"  from whoever happened to be in camp, followed by the unmistakable sound of an overflowing garbage can being dropped like an unknowing quarterback on a blindside blitz.  I'd be as hot on her heels, as much as I could while carrying too many bags of sundries, which I'd ultimately place on the kitchen table in order to free my hands for extracting my dog from her illicit activity.    

There are a couple of unwritten rules at our hunting camp.  Among them are that I cook, first guy up in the morning makes coffee, everyone pitches in on chores, we always hunt safe, under no circumstances will anyone clean the toilet, and garbage will be taken out only when it is overflowing the canister.  Hence Blitz always had a target rich environment for her gastronomic dalliances.   

While the garbage can was the go-to choice, Blitz quickly learned that countertops and tables afforded great environments for snacks, and soon adopted the posture of getting her front paws up to afford the opportunity to quickly survey the forbidden landscape and pilfer a treat.  This worked great at the hunting shack where snacks abound (another unwritten rule was that there's no need to put anything away if you don't feel like it), and even more exotic things like the sugar bowl for morning coffee or a stick of butter from breakfast's toast making were constantly fair game.   

It also proved to be a valuable technique back at home.  Unfortunately for her, Blitz's toenails gave an unmistakable "click" noise when hitting the hard counter, and that sound warned me that I best arrive in the kitchen immediately to prevent whatever carnage that was about to be wreaked.  I must have busted her too many times due to the telltale "click" as Blitz soon adopted a stealthier mode of accessing the counter area that allowed her access without fear of being found out.  What exactly she did was not clear to me, all I know is judging by all the missing food in the house, whatever she was doing was successful.   

However, there were times in which I got lucky.  One such winter afternoon I was working in the office of our home and Blitz was at my feet working on a bone.  I was deep into my work and didn't notice that she'd snuck off, but upon realizing she was no longer with me, I perked my ears up to hear any wrappers being shredded.  Hearing nothing I made a bee line to the kitchen and as I was just about to enter was met Blitz coming out and carrying a huge leftover pork roast.  The roast was pulled out of the refrigerator by my wife and was and about to be thrown out due to age.   

Blitz did not immediately see me at first, and her body language and facial expressions belied what she had done and what she was about to do.  Simply put, Blitz, at that very moment, was the happiest dog on the face of the earth.  Completely unnoticed, she now held in her salivating jaws over a pound of sweet, aged pork roast, and was on her way to an obscure corner to quickly dispatch of her booty, plastic wrap and all.  It was a picture of sheer, unmitigated joy.   

Her rapture immediately turned to terror as her eyes met mine and she realized that the dream that she could already literally taste was going to go unfulfilled.   She lowered her head, spit out the pork at my feet, and slinked back to the office and her bone without my having to give one command.   

She knew she was busted, and she accepted her fate without a fight.  But it would not be her last attempt to steal food, and she would eventually pay me back for my victory of the Battle of the Leftover Pork Roast.    

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