Do You Feed Your Dog People Food?

innocence Not as innocent as she looks

I’ve always fallen somewhere in the middle ground of the should dogs have people food debate, between those I know who never let their dogs have the smallest morsel of human food, and those who (and I’ve actually seen this) will feed their pets several hot dogs at a cookout.

I think my stance on the issue was born in part out of laziness. Having a dog has certainly ruined me when it comes to cleaning up after myself in the kitchen. Whenever food falls to the floor during meal preparation, my first instinct is to call for my dog. I feel a moment’s distinct disappointment when I’m away and this happens and I realize I have to clean up after myself. Even in my own kitchen, if my husband has the dog outside and I spill food, I am often tempted to leave it for Chihiro’s return.

Just about any food that falls to the floor is Chihiro’s domain. Once that started, I found myself giving her more allowances as well. If I bit into a chunk of fat on meat I didn’t like, I’d give it to her. I’d allow young relatives at family dinners to feed her bits of food, so long as they required her to perform a trick for it first.

That itself led to me sometimes using real food (as opposed to just pieces of her own) as incentive when teaching Chihiro tricks I really wanted her to learn, or as a rare reward for especially good behavior.

Looking back on it now, I have to wonder if all of this led to today’s very bad behavior. I bake a lot, usually once a week, and almost always pies (I blame the sadly now-defunct television show “Pushing Daisies”). Leftovers usually remain on the kitchen counter, but are often moved to the table if I need the space for food preparation. I’ve done this since before I adopted Chihiro, and in this year and a half have never once had a problem with it.

Until today. Today I returned from an hour’s worth of errands to find shreds of plastic wrap beside a serving utensil on the floor under the kitchen table. Crumbs littered the table top. And on a chair rested the now-empty, no, even licked clean, remains of what was just hours before a little less than half of a nectarine pie.

I didn’t leave the pie at the center of the table, but by no means did I leave it at its edge either. Chihiro must have put effort into her larceny, pushing a chair out enough for her to stand on to reach the pie, and pulling the plate back down with her (though that was likely the result of her emphatic cleaning of the dish).

I know this means I ought not to leave anything out on the table like that anymore (the cat’s never shown interest in such things but now I’m starting to wonder). Or perhaps what I should do, or maybe do in addition, is resume gating Chihiro in the kitchen when left alone. We haven’t done that for over a year, since we were convinced she’d no longer have accidents inside the house.

But part of me is also wondering if Chihiro would have been so bold if she hadn’t become so accustomed to an allowance of human food. I’ve been bad about it recently, even sweeping up pie crust crumbs left on the counter and depositing them in her bowl, which of course I know now was a mistake.

If Chihiro was never given such allowances, not even that which falls on the floor or under the table during a meal, maybe the pie debacle wouldn’t have happened. Or maybe that would make her even more desperate for the forbidden fruit, who knows. At this stage, I’m willing to take several precautions to prevent this from happening again.

Do you ever give your dog people food? On what occasions?

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