Dog Story 3: Lacey’s Eating Habits by Ron Steinman
(On my Notebooks blog, I posted “A Dog Story,” 8/11/16 and “Dog Story 2, Lacey’s Routine,” 9/19/16. These are part of a work in progress called, “The Zen According to Lacey,” with photos of Lacey. Part 4, Lacey’s Last Years is coming soon.)
When Lacey, my pure bred Shih Tzu, was 11 she had a serious stomach problem that put her into an animal hospital for an overnight stay. The vet inserted an IV to feed her and to keep her alive. She was in bad shape. I thought I might lose her but, stronger than I thought, she came through. Her vet recommended home cooked chicken and vegetable based on the simplest food that one could find on the healthy diet menu at some Chinese restaurants. Rather than ordering in every night, I started to cook for her and did so for most of the rest of her life.
Her menu included slow baked chicken breasts that I marinated for twenty minutes with a touch of sea salt. Then I placed them in a tabletop oven, usually for twenty minutes until well cooked, but not dried out. Into the same oven I put a sweet potato or yam and usually baked either for about forty-five minutes. Sometimes I baked an Idaho potato, usually for one hour. I boiled broccoli stalks but never the florets. For some reason she did not like eating florets. She never explained why. I boiled fresh carrots cut into small pieces. When everything was ready, I cut the meat, the sweet potato and the Idaho potato. I served her both the Idaho and the sweet potato or yam without the skin, always in chunks but never mashed. I cooked her food using no spice or condiments, placing it on a large dinner plate, brought it to her spot in the living room where she attacked her food with gusto. Friends of mine contended she ate better than I did. There was no argument from me. But she was Lacey and deserved every bit of warm attention I could give her.
In the morning after her walk, I gave her three noshes that I cut into small pieces. I put them on the floor. She enjoyed a snack called Snausages. She had a small mouth. I broke those in half. She rarely ate from a plate or bowl. She usually ate those immediately. Then I took a handful of her dry health food that she sometime ate, or whatever else she enjoyed, and put it in a small pile near her water. She usually went right to it and chomped away, slowly and deliberately. Sometimes she let me know she wanted more food by coming to me and staring. She did that as if she were sending me a signal by mental telepathy, something I believe dogs do all the time.
I did feed her table scraps. Doing that seemed to make her want to eat her own food. I did not give her sweets, but if I had cereal, I gave her small desert plate with some and a little milk. The vet said that was good for her. She loved tomatoes, so I gave her a few slices cut into small pieces when I ate them. She loved all kinds of cheese. If I had a piece, I gave her a few tastes as well. That always satisfied Lacey and she would then sleep through the night.