“And laugh they did, and eat, and drink, often and heartily, being fond of simple jests at all times, and of six meals a day (when they could get them).”
J. R. R. Tolkien: The Fellowship of the Ring, Prologue.
I guess you could say that Philip has been helping to feed the dog ever since he started solid foods.
Roscoe quickly learned to position himself near Philip during meal times in the hopes that crumbs will tumble to the floor or a rejected morsel will be flung near his snout. As Philip’s diet increased in variety and size, so did the dog’s waist line. Thanks to portion controls and more walks, the dog is now back to his pre-pregnancy weight.
“Come on, Philip. Let’s feed Roscoe.”
A few months ago, I showed Philip how to feed the dog his actual meals. In my usual, more-worried-about-spills-than-in-teaching mode, I started by picking up Roscoe’s bowl from the floor so that Philip could easily pour in the kibble. The bowl lives on a mat under a shelf in the kitchen, and I worried that Philip would bump his head on it.
One day, I was out in the laundry room near the storage bin as Philip headed into the kitchen with the dish of food.
“Peter,” I hollered to my husband, “move the dog’s bowl over so that Philip can reach it.”
Peter dutifully put the bowl to the side away from the counter. Philip, seeing the bowl out of position, moved it back and then poured the food in without spilling one piece or bumping his head.
I guess he showed me.
With practice, Philip has gained greater independence in each step of the process. I believe his sense of accomplishment in completing this chore is only second in motivation to a new source of entertainment: watching the dog eat.
Judging by Philip’s response, this is delightful. I, on the other hand, worry that the dog may snap at the toddler if he feels his food is threatened. So far, the dog seems less nervous than me. As he eats Roscoe will glance at Philip, but it hasn’t really slowed him down (or sped him up, if that’s possible). Philip doesn’t approach Roscoe, so I guess we are safe for now.
The downside to this curiosity revealed itself on Saturday evening. I had made popcorn as a snack for Philip. In his typical sensory-seeking fashion, he was crushing the popped kernels before nibbling on the broken bits. When I left to go to the sink, Philip was sitting at the dining room table while the dog was serving as a vacuum underneath.When I came back, I found Philip on all fours with his mouth to the floor eating up the popcorn debris.
Heaven help me.
On Sunday night, Philip fed Roscoe at the appropriate time completely unassisted. My parents were over for supper at the time. Later, when we were all saying our goodbyes, Philip thought this meant he was going somewhere. I decided this was a good time for our evening constitutional. I said, “Let’s take Roscoe.”
I have this bad habit that really irritates Peter in which I trail off on sentences. My complete but unuttered thought was, “Let’s take Roscoe for a walk.” Philip, hearing “Roscoe” and being let into the laundry room, opened the storage bin, scooped up dog food, carried it into the kitchen and fed the dog. Again. His technique was so good that we let him. Roscoe ate his second supper without complaint and had the added bonus of going outside after.
Of course, you would think that Roscoe would show some gratitude to Philip. Not our dog. After the walk, I gave Philip a graham cracker since he had barely eaten any supper. Philip took one bite and was holding the rest when Roscoe snatched the cracker out of Philip’s hand and had it swallowed in seconds.