They say that dog owners come to resemble their pets and vice versa. I don’t think that I look like my dog, not yet, anyway. We do share a defining characteristic though – greed. I have to admit that I was greedy prior to her arrival so either she learnt it from me or she was born greedy and fate brought us together.
Plenty of dogs are greedy, obviously, but most of them are dopey and/or obedient. Not mine. She combines her already impressive greed with smarts. I’m perversely proud of her food cunning. Over the years she has consumed all manner of wild and wonderful edibles when our backs have been turned. As a puppy her tastes were wide ranging and eclectic. No one was surprised by her demolishing three quarters of an unsupervised lasagne but eyebrows were raised at the whole pack of butter and tube of hand-cream. Food Protection has since become a full time pursuit in our house.
Christmas is still a fruitful time for her given the abundance of food and tipsiness of friends and family. Yuletides past have seen the loss of meaty leftovers, a whole bag of grapes and half a raw cabbage. Cabbage is a consistent favourite. Similarly guests are dangerous because they don’t understand The Rules. Family friends who were house-sitting memorably lost a complete iced Victoria sponge due to poor canine/food management. One minute it was there, the next minute it was gone. They momentarily questioned whether they had even made a cake. Amateurs.
What you need to listen out for is the silence. Silence is dangerous. It means she is trying to get away with something wicked. It was the silence that alerted us to the Great Soup Disaster of ’07. My grandmother had come bearing a bucket of unidentifiable soup (don’t ask) and, unversed in the ways of Greedy Dog, she had left the loose-lidded Tupperware on the side while we caught up on local gossip. It took us a while to notice the uncanny quiet. ‘Dog…?’ we called warily. She wandered sheepishly into the room and there was momentary relief before we noticed the soup stains on her whiskers and her chin and her eyebrows…
We have come to a mutual understanding. All food must be inaccessible. If she can reach it then it is fair game – just punishment for our foolishness and just reward for her wiles. We can’t get mad at her for following an instinct that we are so intimately familiar with.
Our mutual greeds enthusiastically compete in the scramble for floor food – the true arena of greed. I am a firm believer in the five second rule but you don’t get five seconds in my house. You’re lucky if you get two. She can hear the rattle of a crisp hitting the floor from half a mile. She will materialise almost instantly. There will be a minute of calm and our eyes will meet. In each other we recognise worthy adversaries. Then it is on. Part speed, part skill and part luck, we scrabble and shove until someone or something emerges victorious. As I sulk on the floor and she licks cheese & onion flavouring off her whiskers and seems to grin triumphantly at me I wonder if we don’t look more alike than I first thought.