My dog Hope has this not-so-attractive habit of regurgitating her food about an hour after eating. Her ample serving of Kibbles and Bits is in line for the intestine coaster when “whoaaa….back out the hatch.” I’m sure it’s very confusing for the food.
She doesn’t do it every night, or else she’d be residing at the Humane Society by now, but this game of volcanic “see food” has been going on intermittently for a year now. If Hope were a body obsessed, under confident teenage girl, I’d swear she’s bulimic. But, in reality she’s a comically unattractive pit-bull mix who barks at her own reflection. Maybe she is bulimic and barking into the bathroom mirror is her cry for help. A dog owner can never be too sure about these things.
I mentioned Hope’s digestive malady to her veterinarian, a sweet, empathetic woman, the Jane Goodall of canines, with an entertaining Canadian accent. (the doctor, not the canines.)
“Well, in Hope’s mind she’s still feeding her puppies! You guys are her litter and she’s serving you up a treat,” replied a smiling Dr.Gooddog, who seemed to consider the regurgitation an impressive dog trick like shaking hands and fetching a beer from the fridge…and was a noticeably put off by my desire to correct it.
I half expected her to suggest that I get down on all fours, open wide and show some appreciation.
“So that’s why Hope looks offended when I scold her,” I said, trying to empathize with my dog and simultaneously score points with her advocate.
“Exactly,” said Dr. Gooddog. “She’s trying to provide nourishment for you.”
In a disgustingly self sacrificial way, it all makes sense. Hope had a newborn litter of puppies when we rescued her. She was skin and bones, having been put out beside the highway to waste away by her owner…or pimp. After the puppies were weaned, Hope would eat her dinner in the house and then run down to the shed and regurgitate it for her puppies’ dessert, oblivious to the massive pan of Puppy Chow they were walking around in right next to her. The little ones, always thrilled to see their mom, would scamper up and ask in dog language “what'd ya bring us?” as if Hope had just returned from a routine business trip from which she always surprised them with lightly digested goodies.
But the puppies are all grown now, happily residing at Michael Vick’s house. Could she be reliving the past?
This theory does explain why Hope chooses to vomit, not in a remote corner, but right in the middle of whatever we’re doing….like on the stack of Community Chest cards during a heated Monopoly game and on the living room floor, while the boys are playing Wii…barefooted.
She stands there wagging her tail, looking from us to the pile of liquefied chunks and back again, as if to say “hey, don’t be ungrateful. I spent an hour making this for you. Bon Appetit!
“Mom, you know that if you don’t clean it up, Hope’ll just eat it all over again,” pointed out my nine-year-old son Andrew, who has highly acute powers of observation regarding life’s grossities.
“The other night she threw up on our Blokus board while you were on the phone with Grandma… and after a few minutes, she just gobbled it back up.”
“Nice!” I exclaimed. “What happened to the game?”
“Jack won,” replied Andrew.
Picturing Hope waiting around to see if we’d eat her secondhand dinner makes me think of those deaf people who always hung out in airport terminals back in the day. They’d walk around covertly passing out pencils and sheets of stickers along with pre-printed notes saying something like “I am deaf. Please enjoy the Easter Bunny pencil and Dukes of Hazard stickers for a $5 donation.”
If you didn’t want the festive pastel pencil and 80’s themed stickers, the proper etiquette was to pretend to not notice them lying two inches from your arm rest. A few minutes later, the deaf person would return and silently recollect the unpurchased wares.
I wonder what those people are doing for extra cash in the closed-off airport terminal days since 9-11. I doubt Gray Hound station patrons would provide the same profit margins.
I’m still not sure what to do about Hope.
“Keep her outside for a couple of hours after she eats,” suggested my husband, who brought at least 98-percent of the common sense to our marital gene pool. Gold compared to my double jointedness and tongue-rolling contributions.
“I’ve tried that already. She’ll just save it until she comes back in,” I volleyed. “It’s her way of showing that she loves us, according to Dr. Gooddog.”
“How about a nice bed on the back porch? She can officially be an outside dog,” countered James, strategically.
“How about a canine psychotherapist? Maybe Cesar Milan would be interested.”
“Why don’t you give him a call, Honey? After you clean up that treat Hope left you over there.”