Meal time used to be real simple

Meal time used to be real simple.  Kali and Kloe each ate dry food for both breakfast and dinner.  Initially Kloe got high protein puppy food and was on a slightly different dry mix than Kali.   But eventually when Kloe got old enough they were on the same food.  Back in the day meal time inventory check:  two dogs, two bowls, one dry food bucket, one food.  Simple! Scoop scoop wham bam thank you dad.

Meal time used to be real simple.

Over the past year Holly and I introduced raw meat into Kali and Kloe’s diet.  We’re fortunate to have good friends who own a pet shop and are quite informed and knowledgable about canine nutrition.  Owners Dee and George made suggestions for the raw meat and over the first couple of months we experimented with different types, varying portions, etc.   Wanting to still provide good grains to the girl’s diet, and after a few calculations to consider caloric content of the dry, the raw, and each dog’s weight, we landed on a regimen of dry in the morning and raw in the evening.  The raw meat is sold frozen and we buy it in quantities of 25 one pound flat pieces.   Every two days we would put two one pound portions in the refrigerator to thaw for two day’s of meals.   So, still not too bad, right?   Not as simple as two dogs, two bowls, one dry food bucket, one food but definitely worth the extra meal planning and preparation to yield a healthier diet for the girls.  Plus, they absolutely love the raw meat it keeps their weight down.  And did I mention they love it?

When Koda arrived three months ago we put her on the same dry food that Kloe and Kali eat but the large breed puppy version that is high on protein.  Then about a month ago we began giving Koda a portion of raw meat with her dinner.  She too is crazy for “the raw”.  So let’s do a another meal time inventory check at this juncture: three dogs, three bowls, two dry food buckets, two dry foods, and varying portions of raw at dinner.   And as the old television commercials for kitchen gadgets used to say, “But wait – there’s more…”

Kali is slightly overweight and we wanted to reduce her caloric intake so we introduced some variations for her.  For breakfast she gets half a cup of dry food and half a cup of scrambled egg whites.  For dinner she gets a portion of raw meat and a half cup of salt free canned green beans.   It’s getting complicated isn’t it.

Real time meal time inventory check:  three dogs, two dry food buckets, two dry foods, three bowls, varying portions of raw at dinner, scrambled eggs in the morning, canned green beens in the evenings.   Based on our highly scientific caloric calculations dog size,  age, and overall weight management goals the dry food and raw portions are different for all three pups but at least the eggs whites and green beans are the same portions for Kali.  Hurray for small victories!

Meal time used to be real simple.   But are my girls healthier and happier? Yes.  Is it worth the planning and coordination and calamity amusement of three dogs squirming at your feet during preparation?  Absolutely!

The pace of the meal

Kali and Kloe used to finish their meals at almost exactly the same time even though Kloe’s portions were bigger. Now with Koda who has relatively large portions and eats a little slower (thank you puzzle bowls),  and the variation of portions and content,  they all finish their meals at different times.  Kloe is always finished first.  Koda is second, and Kali – who has the smallest portions – finishes last.  Sometimes by a good 5 minutes after the other two.   What Golden Retriever doesn’t love food, right?  But Kali takes it to the extreme.  Kali worships her food.   To watch her eat with the deliberation and devotion one might think that meal time is a spiritual experience for her.

Before Koda, when Kali and Kloe finished at the same time, it was amusing to watch them in unison like synchronized eaters move to the other’s empty bowl and lick around the edges and grooves of the puzzle bowls.  Now that finishing times are staggered Kloe typically walks off and asks to go outside having her sisters behind to finish up.  Kloe finishes next and it’s endearing to watch her watch Kali finish.  As Kali methodically addresses the meat and green beans that remain in the bowl Koda stands or lays nearby showing respect and does not try to steal any of the food.  But she’s not shy about getting her face right next to the Kali’s bowl.

And Kali just keeps eating seemingly in food bliss methodically conducting her business while her baby sister watches.

 

Kids – they grow up so fast….

…and even faster when they’re dogs.

The photo below was taken a few days ago.  We use puzzle bowls to slow down meal time for these two food hounds we call Kali and Kloe.  The bowls have a pattern with varying shapes and depths.  It’s a great way to avoid bloating and extend by several minutes  one of  their absolute favorite activity of the day.

Kloe’s bowl is the green one that she’s standing next to.  Kloe recently graduated from a very simple puzzle bowl – four big sections – to the green one that used to be Kali’s.  Even when you’re a pup if you’ve got an older sibling you get hand me downs, right?  The first few days I’d had to help Kloe with the last few pieces of kibble or veggies but she quickly learned that if the crevice where the food was sitting is a bit too deep for her tongue that she could push the food to a more shallow area and gobble it up.  It still takes her several minutes to finish eating but that’s the point.

Kali’s got the new orange bowl with slightly more difficult terrain.   It has deeper crevices and the design is more challenging.  If you look closely in the photo you can see that there is a small piece of apple that she couldn’t get out.  She had resigned herself not completely solving the puzzle during this particular meal and after an extended attempt to get her tongue to do the job she laid down to lament her failure.

Kali and Kloe are very respectful of one another at meal time.  When Kloe was very young she made the mistake of trying to get a piece of kibble out of Kali’s bowl while Kali was eating.  Kloe wasn’t much more than 9 weeks old and as gentle as Kali had been with her, and continues to be now, Kali made sure that Kloe never did that again.  A stern growl and nip to Kloe’s ear drew a little blood and high pitched yelps and the lesson was served.  Kali has been a great teacher and this was a tough but important lesson for Kloe at an early age.

On this day Kloe kept her distance and eventually sauntered over to the orange bowl and I snapped the photo as these two went nose to nose in a dinner time stare down.  They stayed in this stare down for several seconds until I – the diplomat that I am – dislodged the apple chip and gave a small piece to each of them.

Kloe has been in our pack for two months.  She was just nine weeks old when we brought her home.  It’s been so great to see her grow and mature.  Much of the maturity can be attributed to Holly’s daily training sessions and to Kali’s mentoring.

The video below the photo was taken when Kloe was about 10 weeks old and right before we moved from our home in Livermore to Tuolumne.  The video shows a small pup – not even half her size now – with the same tenacious and playful personality that I have come to adore.

Kids – they grow up so fast!

IMG_3290

Dinner time stare down at the Golden K Corral

Respect

“R-E-S-P-E-C-T.  Find out what it means to me”

Aretha Franklin

From the first day Kali arrived from Taiwan almost two years ago she has always been very respectful of the house, the yard, and our possessions.  She seemed to inherently know what was a toy and what wasn’t.  Even if they looked the same or were the same.

We have a beanie baby that we use to keep our door ajar at night.  It’s an old habit from when Panda the cat was still with us.  It kept the door from shutting all the way when the heater came on (house air flow dynamics) and gave him a way to come and go while we were sleeping.  Full transparency about that: initially it wasn’t so much because we cherished this animal and wanted him to have full access to us even when we were asleep.  It was because, well, he was a cat and he would tear up the carpet outside our bedroom door if we didn’t.  I’ve mentioned before that we’re very trainable, right?

The point about the beanie baby was that Kali has a couple of beanie babies in her toy box that she plays with from time to time.  But she never touches the beanie baby next to our bedroom door.  As I recall she picked it up one time when she first saw it, I said “no – that’s not yours” – she dropped it and it’s never been an issue since.

She has fuzzy toys she likes to chew on and some of them look a lot like socks or slippers but she’s never chewed on a slipper, shoe, or anything else that wasn’t “hers” as appealing as they may be to her.  She instinctively knows what’s hers and what’s not hers and shows proper respect.

Kali is very highly extremely food motivated.  She is “all about the food” which makes it easy to provide positive reinforcement for good behavior and obedience.  So as respectful as she is about “things” what is truly notable is how she respects Smokey’s food. She has never exhibited any food aggression even from the first week she arrived and ate side by side with Smokey.   She knows what food is hers and respects Smokey’s even when it’s left unattended.

Smokey is not so much about the food.  Mealtime for Kali is an event.  Mealtime for Smokey is about the 6th or 7th item on his daily “to-do” list.  For convenience and routine sake I feed both Kali and Smokey at the same time.  Kali never fails to do her Suppertime dance even at breakfast.   The house could literally be on fire with fire fighters spraying water and burning beams falling and Kali would stand her ground and finish her meal before reacting to the mayhem around her.  When Smokey’s bowl is put on the ground I usually have to call him over to it.   I’ll say, “come on, Smoke.  Eat up or Kali will get your food”,  even though I know she won’t.  Smokey will saunter over to the bowl, take a sniff and look around the room (what is he a cat?!), and usually walk away and return to the spot in the sun or couch he was sleeping on.  He’ll eventually go back and eat but it might be a while and long after Kali has finished her puzzle-maze filled bowl.

I used to think that Kali would eat Smokey’s food if left on the ground unattended so I would hang around until they had both finished.  She did try to eat it once and Smokey made it very clear that even though he was not interested in the food at that moment that it was his and Kali should back off, which of course she did.

Here is what I found to be a truly remarkable event.

The other morning I put the food bowls down, Kali’s first.  With the bowl in front of her she immediately goes into a sit with eyes fixed on mine.  It’s our routine and I wait four or five seconds before I say “ok” and point to the food.  I do believe that she would sit with eyes fixed on mine for 10 minutes if I made her.  I would never do that of course but I’m pretty sure she wouldn’t eat until I told her it was ok no matter how long she had to wait.

Smokey’s bowl went down next a few feet away from Kali’s.  Smokey does his routine and eventually walks away from the food without eating.   I head upstairs to my office and see Kali’s eyes glancing back and forth between Smokey’s bowl of food and me.  As I head up I tell Kali to “leave it”.  She walks past the food and lies down in at the edge of the kitchen.  I know Smokey will eventually eat.   I usually check after about 10 minutes and if the food is still there I pick it up and it becomes dinner for him later that evening.

This particular morning I forgot to go back downstairs to check on whether Smokey had eaten.   About 30 minutes had passed.  I head down and I see that Kali is lying in the same spot and Smokey’s bowl is still full.  But Smokey isn’t around.   I then remembered hearing my daughter pass through the kitchen and go back to bed. I realized that Smokey had followed my daughter into her room without eating.

But as I’ve said about Kali, she is all about the food.  For her to lay there for half an hour by herself with a bowl full of food and not eat it was truly remarkable.  I couldn’t have been prouder of her at that moment.  I picked up Smokey’s bowl and opened the cookie jar and handed Kali a couple of biscuits while telling her what a good girl she was.

I only hope she had some idea of why she was being rewarded.

IMG_1845

Love these guys!