Phoenix's latest: now when I put his food in his bowl he stands there and looks at me, cocking his fuzzy white head, peering at me through the too-long hair around his eyes. As if we have something to talk about here. Like he's just waiting for the magic words, which I don't happen to know. Does he think after all these years that he needs permission to proceed? What does he think has changed since yesterday and the other 6,299 meals I've given him? What is he waiting for? I will never figure this dog out. But that doesn't stop me from trying. I am nothing if not analytical.
His bowl is about 18 inches from Figaro's but there has never been a problem between the two of them eating so closely together, you know, with territoriality, so I don't know what this new business of not eating is all about. As usual, I succumb to the old "What's wrong? What can I do?" solution. When he's pulled this before, and he has, believe me, I would coax him on with an encouraging tone, sometimes hand-feeding him a few kibbles, sometimes placing a few kibbles on the floor. When this has happened, it has always been at suppertime, never in the morning. I figure maybe he's just not quite as humgry at suppertime. So if my other tricks haven't gotten him to eat, I'll put his bowl on the counter for a couple of hours, and when I offer it to him later he eats without hesitation.
But three days ago, he didn't want to eat his breakfast. Now that was unusual. And he didn't respond to my usual coaxing. So instead of indulging him any longer with my immediate presense, I gave up and brought the bowl with me to the kitchen table, put it on the floor beside my chair, and sat down to eat my own breakfast. I only did this so Figaro wouldn't attempt to eat Phoenix's food, not because I thought it would solve anything. But, lo and behold, the next thing I see, Phoenix is right there beside me chowing down.
So for the last few meals, that has become our latest routine. Not that it's all bad, I have to admit. Take last night: I got home from work and didn't even take off my coat because we intended to leave right away to go out to dinner. I was going to fly in, grab John, and fly back out without catching a breath after a long day at the office. When I got home, John said he'd fed the dogs but that Phoenix had not eaten much. That was an understatment. I looked down and found Phoenix's bowl completely full. Thinking " We don't have time for these games," I sighed, picked up the bowl, brought it over to the kitchen table, placed it on the floor and sat down, coat and all, to wait. Phoenix eventually sidled over, sniffed around a bit, and finally began to eat. He's a very slow eater for a dog. While Figaro inhales his food in his imitation of a vacuum cleaner, Phoenix is just plain slow, don't know why, perhaps the effects of aging. As a result I had to sit at the table for several minutes while he nibbled his kibbles, one by every single one. So John sat down at the table with me and we chatted while we waited. It was nice. We wouldn't have taken that nice little breather together if not for Phoenix's latest routine. Another lesson learned from my dog.
In any case, it seems as if I have to stay one step ahead of Phoenix when it comes to his mealtime routine. I don't know what I'll do when this particular trick stops working. Maybe I'll try saying "Grace."