The (Twenty)-Four* Major Food Groups

luckydog_hotdog_vendor500… According to Jasmine and Spunky

Humans have a food pyramid, a balanced diet (in theory at least) and the four major food groups. Dogs, however, have a far less discriminating palate. Here are more than a few of Spunky and Jasmine’s favorite food groups:

1. Leftovers… including the food plus any paper or cardboard packaging.

2. Unattended Food… (See Pepperoni Pups.)

3. Attended Food… If your reaction time is slow.

4. Food in Doggie Bags… technically, this counts as “leftovers,” but it is also considered an entitlement by some dogs (who may or may not be able to read) … who consider it exploitative if the “doggie” bag is not shared with … the doggies.

5. Beverages… this includes water, tea, coffee, juice, plus the carton or juice box; wine, (if the glass is left at or near see-level); or other adult beverages, e.g., strawberry margaritas, if the packets are – hypothetically speaking – thrown out and left in unattended trash bags. (See Jasmine’s (hic) day off.)

6. Furniture … When the delivery guys drop off new furniture, from a pup’s perspective, it sure looks like a giant chew toy, tags and all. Ask Jazz. She not only chased off the “intruders” who delivered it, she appreciatively chewed away at the fabric when left “home alone,” until the only answer was an attractive and apparently less palatable throw draped over the top. Which leads me to …

7. Fabric – (Jasmine here.) “My owners didn’t like the fact that I’d made the pretty new sofa my favorite chew-toy-slash-perch. (Sigh. Humans! Can’t live with ’em, don’t want to live without ’em.) But here’s the thing: From this early-detection vantage point, I can spot the mailman, the UPS guy and other would-be intruders and scare them off. From this post, I can also watch my owners as they desert me. Then, I can vent my abandonment issues by consuming small amounts of fabric in the form of an attractive couch (aka stress ball, snack, or dental floss, depending on your perspective.”

8. Ice Chips – (Spunky) Just as many domestic cats will salivate and run toward the sound of a can opener, or the word “tuna,” Spunky will be there in a heartbeat if he hears the sound of the refrigerator’s icemaker in action. It’s fun. It’s refreshing. And it tastes good, too. Fortunately for him a few of the boxy little cubes almost always fall on the floor where he can have his drink and chew toy, too. Occasionally, his favorite peeps will give him a cube or two, unprompted, as a crunchy, cost-effective and calorie-free doggie treat.

9. Kleenex and Other Paperesque Products – (Jasmine) Watch for a separate blog entry, coming soon. In the meantime, suffice it to say that when humans eat paper, they call it “pica” disorder. When dogs eat paper, it’s more akin to “dogs will be dogs.” Even so … Jasmine has an above-and-beyond inclination to consume tissue paper, paper towels, napkins and cardboard, or large-denomination bills. (See Cash or Compost.)

10. Shoes… I still have a pair of Keds that are a chewed-up canvas remnant of Spunky’s puppy years. Slightly nostalgic and a bit more functional than, say, a clay keepsake imprint of his paw.

11. * … And counting. – There are more, but this entry is getting long. Who can limit it to four, 24 or more? Especially when dogs consider food such a nuanced word. Dogs don’t always distinguish between that which has nutritional value and that which is merely fun to eat. Their tastes can be relatively indiscriminate. They are also unlikely to discern the price difference between prime rib and the garbage-bin remnants of yesterday’s sack lunch. (Either stands a reasonable chance of being swallowed whole with little or no chewing action.)

Furthermore, as far as we know, neither Jasmine nor Spunky can read or count and, when it comes to consumables, wouldn’t want to. Why limit yourself to four? Apparel, bike tires, birthday cakes and candles, too, yesterday’s fish, Christmas cookies, holiday ham, anniversary hors d’oeuvres, that bubble-gum stuck to the sidewalk, crumpled napkins, a stranger’s discarded yogurt container … it’s all good! One could easily reach not just 24, but 2,400 and more, so I’ll stop here.

If I’ve left anything out, please feel free to add your own perspectives on the curious culinary habits of dine-and-dash doggies.

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