Discussing dog breeds, dog-adoption, and the human-canine connection.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Eating it Does Not Make it Edible.

I currently live with three dogs.

Jenny, the Collie, believes that only certain things are meant to be eaten. Unfortunately, dog food often does not fall into this category.

She likes "people food" but with her sensitive stomach and skin her food choices seldom agree with her.
 Her diet is largely made up of salmon based kibble. She would prefer a diet of bread, bacon, and gravy.

 Then there is Gracie, the English Bull Terrier and Lilith the Labrador. For these girls there is nothing they meet in life that lacks the potential to join the "food group." If it doesn't move too fast to get away, it can potentially be eaten. What I would like them to realize is that eating something does not make it edible, i.e. taking something into the mouth does not automatically make it food. In people there is a disorder called Pica, where a person is compelled to eat non-food items.
In dogs I think we just call this behavior stupid.

So far we've been lucky. And when I say lucky, I don't mean that I've always managed to catch them in the act. I mean that luckily we haven't so far had to rush to the vet for emergency surgery to remove a bowl obstruction.

Lil's bowl - before she started chewing the center out

I was reminded of how lucky we are when I was cleaning up after Lil this morning. Last night she apparently found and grabbed a few mouthfuls from the bag of clean rabbit bedding - compressed paper pellets, very dark grey in color. Sure, it might look a tiny bit like small dog kibble...I can't believe it tastes anything like it and it certainly doesn't smell like food. It smells like compressed paper!

A few weeks ago I was cleaning up after Gracie and figured out where the role of blue painter's tape I couldn't find had gotten to. Here's some trivia for you; blue painters tape, when chewed up, glues together and forms chunks like rubber. Which can be swallowed/eaten if you are so inclined. It can not, however, be digested.

I could in fact give you a list of things that Gracie and I have discovered cannot be digested - even if they can be eaten. Again, though, I'm just thankful that so far I've managed to keep the really dangerous stuff out of reach OR she hasn't tried to eat the stuff that could be dangerous that is in reach.

It is all well and good to "puppy proof" our houses however, we do reach a point where if you want to have anything -- I mean anything -- in your house, there is the possibility of a dog trying to eat it. Let's see if I can illustrate with some examples.

This link is not for the squeamish amongst you. Its a YouTube video of one of the more unbelievable cases I've heard of - a Boxer who managed to swallow an entire telescoping mop handle - whole.  Yeah, didn't chew it into pieces, just swallowed. Yuck.

What I find interesting is that my dogs have LOTS of dog appropriate things they could be chewing on. Instead, they seem to prefer the non-approved items.
Why chew a dog bone when you can destroy a paint brush?

If you're noticing a painting theme - I recently have spent numerous weekends in a row getting the outside of my house painted. I've had help from family and oh so much help from Gracie and Lil!
For example, we used some power tools - which meant having an electric extension chord outside. Thank goodness it was unplugged when Lil found it - one of my helpers left the unplugged chord in her pen. First she removed the end. Then she dismantled the removed end. Really helpful.

My biggest problem seems to be that I resist cloning technology which would allow me to have several copies of myself running around so that I could be doing what I'm trying to do and supervising my helpers all at the same time. Between my two girls and my family there was a lot of unsupervised activity going on; I was only ever in one place at a time. Most inefficient on my part. Basically asking the dogs to find some extra curricular chewing activities. And hey, once you've chewed it, why not try and swallow? Isn't that what food is - anything you swallow?

Can I taste that camera?

I expected Lil to like her groceries. I've never met a Labrador who wouldn't eat all the food they could get their mouth on. And I've known more than one Lab who has eaten to the point of getting sick - gotten sick - then gone back for me. Yeah, that's gross but that's also what I would consider 'typical Lab behavior.'

I just wish I could convince her to stick to her groceries and other dog appropriate chewing items. But most of all - I wish Lil and Gracie would quit eating things that aren't food!

Who knew that was such an outrageous expectation?

The only good news -- they don't appear to be food aggressive. They share everything, including the pieces of paint brush I caught them with two nights ago. They were making it kindling, but they were working together in a spirit of harmony. I guess that's something.

Honest warden, I thought that roll of tape was part of the chow line.


  1. Hi: It looks like I'm not allowed to comment on your blog from Beijing...

    So, here's a comment - could you please post for me?

    Wow, those are some impressive eaters! I'm glad you've been lucky that
    nothing too serious has happened.

    I was in my vet's office once when I could hear another client leave a
    message on their answering machine: "X (dog) ate a wooden award plaque!
    They are (insert alternative here - 'pooping') splinters!" My vet's
    response (to the other staff) "At least they are (pooping) them. Better
    than not (pooping) them out."

    It sounds challenging attempting to prevent ingestion. I've heard of
    dogs eating underwear, poopy diapers (not good), pantyhose... Gilly the
    mouthy used to chew everything - shoes, remotes, electric blanket cords
    (3, but not plugged in, thank goodness, he trained me to unplug stuff
    and use the metal removable panels from metal dog crates to protect
    cords) - I got good at removing stuff from GSD reach, but this got more
    and more challenging once he was 70 lbs with a LONG reach.

    Gus has never been mouthy or a chewer of non-dog toys (he has a ton of
    dog toys within reach, and remarkably, this has always largely been
    enough for him) with some exceptions - he chewed electric blanket cord
    (#4 - also unplugged) which resulted in just about the only time he got
    yelled at (most of the electric blanket cords were for blankets where
    you could not replace the cord - an expensive habit). Gus also very
    helpfully attempts to clean up the street when we walk. He has always
    been exceptionally good at "drop it." It is one of the few commands I
    did not have to teach him. Happily, even as a pup he chewed nary a
    shoe or sock... a nice shift after Gilly who chewed any and all shoes
    and socks... One of my least graceful moments was hosting a Spanish
    night at my house when I had Gilly and Breezy. I was having everyone
    leave shoes on the front enclosed porch and my (perpetually) late and
    dear friend Alex came in and took off his very nice leather shoes and
    left them inside. I caught Gilly about to chew and said (in spanish) to
    Alex "That was dumb of you..."

    Right now he (Gus, not Alex) is glorying in the apple harvest spread
    throughout the streets. He seems to really favor the most fermented,
    mashed up apples he can find. I try to limit his ingestion to maybe six
    small apples per day to prevent digestive problems and bloat. I've
    always fed him fruits and vegetables as treats (I do this with all my
    pets, Gus is the most omnivorous one, Gilbert the beaglet is the only
    one of any of my dogs or cats that has patently refused all fruits and
    vegetables). If I'm cutting up broccoli, for example, Ruby and Gus
    regard the stem ends as gourmet fare. My cats have always loved all
    cruciferous veggies (cabbage/broccoli type stuff) and any type of
    melon. If I cut open a cantaloupe, I'm sure to have cat (used to be
    cats) surrounding me begging.


  2. Now my response :-)

    I feel pretty lucky - so far we have not needed any vet intervention.

    At least Retrievers have the good manners to look guilty when they are caught. Gracie's attitude is, "yeah, you caught me this time. I'll be back."

    It helps to have a healthy ego if you're going to live with a Bull Terrier. Otherwise you could be undermined by their attitdue.

  3. We also have an awesome bull terrier who is open-minded when it comes to the definition of food. To date he has eaten:

    Endless pairs of shoes
    My favorite vintage coat
    Oil paint sticks (with colorful results)
    A ball of yarn
    The zippers off our couch cushions
    2 $20 bills (we got them back whole! gross!)
    A box of artisan chocolates
    The bottom of our curtains - an aspiring decorator!
    A hole in the wall (seriously)

    That is not to mention the perhaps thousands of smaller things that have gone unnoticed over our 6 years together. Keep up with the Gracie posts! She is so cute...

  4. Lol, I like that description - open minded about the definition of food!

    Omg on the 2 $20s. My mom the nurse always said, "wash your hands after handling money, you never know where its been" but even she never imagined THAT trip...kudos for being willing to take that money back :-)

    If you'd like to share a picture of your pup please email it to me - cmoslund@gmail.com - I love to see other people's family members!