Monday, March 29, 2004

Little Black Casey Dog

Casey-the-housemate's-dog is a funny little guy. I've never had a dog who was anything other than fanatical about the existence of food and his/her right to consume it. I've had friends whose dogs were more philosophical about eating and occasionally preferred pondering food's place in the universe to actually ingesting it. But this is the first one in my household.

He ate fine the first 4 months or so after moving in, even though he had always free fed and now he was limited to what he could eat at mealtime with my dogs (otherwise my less philosophical dogs would consume his share while he pondered). But in the last month or so he has taken to downright rejecting his food at mealtime. Sometimes he skips a meal entirely; sometimes he skips a day of eating entirely. He must be getting food from somewhere, though, because he's maintaining his weight. Housemate says that for the most part he's not getting extra treats or supplements. He does have a little tiny digestive system, though, so in theory it wouldn't take much at all to fill it up. But it is odd that all of a sudden his habits have changed.
Casey too weak from hunger to stand up during breakfast

I don't know him well enough to know whether his attitude or energy level have changed, but housemate notices nothing particularly amiss. But at mealtime, when I ask him to sit for his bowl, he skitters off and hides in a corner. I've taken to insisting that he come out and sit whether he wants to eat or not (I think that "come" and "sit" shouldn't depend on whether he wants to eat--I'm such a tyrant that way) and then just praising him, putting the bowl down, releasing him, petting him and playing with him a little and letting him eat or not until my dogs are done, then I pick up his bowl if he's still not interested.

I've gotten him to eat a few times by subterfuge--I pick up some morsels and pretend to munch and slurp happily and noisily upon them. He then wants the ones I'm eating, which I give him, then he continues with what's in his bowl. But this doesn't always work. A couple of times I've gotten him to eat by having him do some things on command and giving him goodies for it, then presenting the meal (like Remington, who always wanted things to fit the pattern--if he hadn't had a good play or work session with me, it was sometimes iffy whether he felt that he deserved the meal). Or maybe Casey just wants a nice appetizer.

A couple or three times I've just slid the bowl right up to his face while he's lying there getting petted, and then he eats lying down (not the way he usually eats). He's probably so weak from hunger that he can barely stand up and the thought of having to stand up and lean his head allllll the way dowwwwwwn to that bowl to pick up each piece of food and chew each individually (which is what he does) is JUST too much to bear. Poooooooor little dog.

Agility (not) wannabe: But, hey, today right before breakfast he ran next to me over a 16" jump and then about 10 feet to go through a curved 20' tunnel! This is major progress; usually he goes under 16" jumps; he often goes around jumps given half a chance, and I've hardly ever gotten him to do a jump-tunnel in sequence (more often have done tunn-jump in sequence if the jump is right in his path as he exits). This is pretty good, considering that I really don't work with him much and I don't use the techniques for ensuring his success and understanding that I'd be using with a dog I was really wanting to train--on leash and guiding him through sequences of obstacles. So I was quite delighted with him today.

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