Sunday, February 8, 2015

Showtime

                 

Almost every morning I get to put on a show for a captive audience. I stand before my audience, employing a variety of tools inherent to the task at hand, performing my duties as an aura of solemnity pervades the air. This daily undertaking can be considered life saving, perhaps even life giving. I do know that as I near the end of my mission the sense of excitement grows until the triumphant climax. And, when I’ve finished there is a period of rest and relaxation.
Is this performance some sort of complex surgery? Or, a life saving medical procedure?  No, but it may be just as important. What I do is make the daily meal for five (sometimes six) dogs.
The dogs, in no particular order, are:

Coconut, 12 year old Westie, the elder statesman of the group

Daisy, about 8 years old, a one eyed Bassett Hound

Zoe (Baby Girl), 7 year old Norwich Terrier

Leo, 3 year old very, very stupid Shih Tzu, who thinks he’s the alpha dog

Freckles, about 2 year old Spaniel of some sort

Winston (sometimes home, but now away at school in Waco where he’s premed) 6 months old Miniature Schnauzer mix.

Every morning starts with the same routine. Wake up, attend to some personal needs, head downstairs with Zoe in tow (being Baby Girl entails some privilege), get the newspaper, make the daily food for Isaac, my fifteen year old Eclectus parrot and, finally, the show begins.
First, all the important props are gathered: food bowls, a knife and spoon, cans of dog food, cheese and any other fare I see fit to feed this pack. At first only Zoe will linger around the kitchen island where each dog’s meal is to be prepared.
Zoe came from Hungary and the first thing she did when she exited the plane was eat. She has lived for eating ever since. She hovers around the preparation site in case any stray bits of kibble or shreds of chicken should fall to the floor. Zoe has been on  a special diet which helps keep her love of food in check and has helped bring her weight from a far too heavy 19 pounds to a much more acceptable 14.
The show starts with The Preparation of the Leftovers. This may be chicken, steak, roast pork or anything that is appropriate for a dog’s stomach. This part of the meal is chopped into measured bits, cubes or strips which can be easily consumed by the canine crowd. It is microwaved for about thirty seconds and then distributed. Coconut, being the most senior and the most discerning gets a large portion. Leo, under the delusion that he’s the boss and should have everything Coconut has, gets a little less. Daisy and Freckles each get the same, while Zoe gets enough for her to think she’s getting what the others have, which is usually only 3 tiny bits and always lean.
Next comes the dry food. About a cup for Daisy, a bit more for Freckles and a bit less for Leo. Coconut hates dry food and never touches it under any circumstances. Zoe gets her special weight loss formula. By now, other dogs have started to gather around me in anticipation of the great climax. Leo, Daisy and Freckles will all be sitting staring up at me, while Zoe is still on the prowl for any tiny bits that may escape to the floor. Coconut, as always, maintains his cool and stays on his bed, confident that his breakfast will come to him.
The next ingredient is the canned food. I’ve been through many brands and styles, searching for the perfect one which appeals to them all. Alpo, Purina, Cesar, Science and many others have been tried and found wanting. One may be too chunky, another doesn’t taste right, still another may appeal to Daisy, but not Leo, or Freckles but not Coconut. Finally, I stumbled upon Blue Wilderness, a ground up variety which mixes well, comes in a variety of flavors and, so far, is acceptable to the entire pack.
Each gets their fair share, enough to fill up their tummies and add a bit of flavor to what I’m sure is  very bland dry food. Poor Zoe is limited to her weight loss formula, fighting a never ending battle which is familiar to many.
Finally the food is mixed. Of course, by now my pack of dogs is all around me, barely able to contain their enthusiasm as they anticipate the coming gourmet repast. Daisy, being a very verbal Bassett starts to half howl, half cry. She knows that she gets her food first. Leo and Freckles still sit quietly, staring at their food bowls and Zoe, never one to miss an opportunity, still mills about hoping to find a wayward morsel.
And, at last, the piece de resistance, cheese garnishes each bowl. Muenster, Cheddar, Colby Jack, anything but Pepper Jack, is broken up and put on top of each food dish. Three microscopic bits for Zoe and generous helpings for the rest. Voila, the daily meal is ready.
First, Daisy, who by now is in a frenzy of anticipation. She races into the “music room”, pushing any unsuspecting bystanders out of her way and she jumps onto her bed and sits as I put her bowl down. She sniffs it carefully, declares it good and digs in.
Next, Freckles smoothly glides out of the music room, where she followed Daisy, and takes her place just outside the door and stands to get her breakfast.
Zoe then runs to her spot, which is under a desk built into the breakfast area. She does a 360, sometimes a 720 while her bowl is placed into her nook and then digs in.
Coconut has coolly remained on his bed in the utility room. His meal, good enough for even the most discerning palate is laid in front of him. I bow to the king and then close the door, allowing our elder statesman to eat quietly in solitude.
Then there’s Leo, the dumbest dog ever born. He runs to his spot, which is on the Ottoman next to a big overstuffed chair. He jumps up and usually slides off the opposite side, crashing onto the floor, as I put his food in its place.
The show is now nearly over. Everyone is hunkered down, enjoying a gourmet meal. One by one they finish. But, they’re not finished. Because, they expect dessert. I gather up each bowl while Freckles sits by the large basket which holds a variety of dog treats. Zoe also appears, then Leo. Daisy and Coconut are still in their respective rooms, waiting. I don’t want to disappoint them, so they each get one treat, a Greenie or jerky treat. Each goes his or her own way; going off to savor the treat, while I’m left, like a good maid, to clean up; wash each bowl and put them away and to fill their four water bowls.
Each dog settles down for a nap. The show is over.
I leave for “work.”