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Chet Loves Spaghetti

Thursday, October 29, 2009

I continue to spend my days cleaning. Cleaning out the old. Making room, not for the new, but for us. Killing about 10 billion dust mites with every sweep of the vacuum cleaner and sponge. Having cleaned both kids' bedrooms of 13 and 9 years of crap, respectively, now I am infected with the certainty that the rest of the house, if I were only to peek behind its figurative curtain, is even worse than their closets proved to be. I chip at it, bit by bit, knowing that I could and should keep at it until things are back under something resembling control. And do nothing else for the next couple of months. On the top shelf and in a chest in Phoebe's closet were my hospital release papers from her birth. Instructions on how to deal with a leaky postpartum body and a book on breast feeding. And she is practically old enough to...aggh, I can't even think it.

So I walked into the studio today and looked at the unit next to my old desk computer which was sold to me as a "desk organizer" but which in reality is a plastic support system for a giant haystack, a cornshock of contracts and papers that at one time, oh, say three years ago, were very important, vital, even, but which have aged to a point where they can now be thrown away. Permits, contracts, signed agreements; anything that smacks of legality or permissions goes into the Amish-style cornshock. I did find the contract for my current book, which I perused with some bemusement and replaced. Most everything else I threw out. Ahhh, that felt good. But purging it is something that I can only bring myself to do triannually.

Thank God Shila is in the same deep-cleaning mode, and we call each other and have hour-long conversations about throwing crap out and how somebody should really come in with a snow shovel and help us out here. We can talk and throw crap out at the same time.

All of which is to say that I am posting about Chet and spaghetti because my life is pretty colorless right now; well, no, it is the color of dust bunnies.

We really don't have many rules for Chet Baker; he is such a gentleman. Don't eat the hamsters is a new one. But most "dog people" would be shocked to see us allowing him an occasional seat at the dinner table. Big no-no. We also play tug 0' war with him and he snarls and growls ferociously at us. Thus far, these flirts with anarchy have not produced a slavering were-beast, a severed artery, or anything remotely near it. They are just things Chet Baker does, and the world continues to spin, and he remains our adored pet.

Sometimes Phoebe shares a seat with him. When there is spaghetti, he is usually up in her chair before she can get there.
He studies the spaghetti with such longing, mingled with regret that it is not going into his cakehole.
He watches each bite as it travels to its destination.
And at the end of the meal, he gets a little spaghetti sauce over his kibble. I've all but stopped buying the Cesar meals I used to moosh into his Royal Canin to increase its appeal. The gravies and roasts and sauces I make taste ever so much better. Whoops, am I breaking another dogrule? Thought so.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go let Chet in, because, having completed a chiptymunk patrol, he is barking and leaping against the screen door. I gave him a prophylactic spanking on his firm little rumpus as he trotted in. Just in case he might do something naughty.


Is your next book called "The Womanly Art of Chet Feeding" by chance?

What a relief when old papers become meaningless, at last! A whole corner of my office, which I'd long dreaded cleaning, proved on belated inspection to be so out of date that none of it was a challenge to process -- i.e. bin. There's still everything else, of course, but you seem to have made heroic headway with it. As for the due dates on book contracts: the stuff of rueful headshakes, if not snorts of derision. Are you seeing any birds though?

Posted by Nick from Ottawa October 29, 2009 at 2:03 PM

Carried boxes of paper with me through many moves and across the country, and finally last year I threw it out; the impetus was some term paper that was supposed to demonstrate how brilliant I was, but when I read it, I could no longer understand it. So it had become living evidence of personal deterioration. Out!

One thing we found that all of our dogs liked when their food was mixed in it, was plain yogurt. Who knew?

I loved watching those big eyes follow the fork to Phoebe's mouth :)

Let's see--first, my husband is a paper organizing fiend, so he has files upon files upon files. He can go back 10 ro 20 years and tell how much mulch we have ordered each year.

Second, our dog also loves spaghetti, although she is not allowed at the table--she is just plain too covetous of people food to do that. She loves eating the spaghetti pastas as if they were long worms. Slurp, slurp.

Loved your prior post on saying goodbye to your children's childhood as you pack up all the stuff.

REAL "dog people" know that there is no generic set of "dog rules." (Well, except for biting people or peeing on them. Oh, better add eating hamsters.) Chet is exactly who you want him to be and he is perfect for your family and your lifestyle. And isn't that the best thing about having dogs?

He's perfect and you are doing everything right! If he has a sweet tooth, treat him to a donut once a week, like we do. Saturday is "honey dip" donut day here. Michael sits at the kitchen table with a Boston on each side of the chair and they receive pieces of their donut. It's a plain donut, purchased especially for them. And they expect it. They also taste everything we eat for dinner. Ahhh, ghetties. They adore spaghetti. That's the way it is.

I can confirm that Chet also loves lasagna.
(Sorry if he blasted you with gas that one night, but that's what you get for not telling me that he was coming and I show up
un-Chet-prepared with zero bags of treats for the poor starving thing.

And then there's my cat, who likes to have few licks of beer every now and again. We're all going to pet owner hell.

Chet's sure a lucky puppeh!
I'm always envious of dog owners who tell me their dog never begs at the table. That's never happened at our house!

Don't worry about feeding Chet "people food". Aside from a few things he shouldn't eat there's no harm in it. I know people who don't feed their dogs dog food but rather prepare them meals from scratch. As for dinner table etiquette, well, it is your table. My dog's 85 pounds so he's forced to stay on the floor, but he too gets leftovers after dinner.

What a well behaved Chet!!!! Amazing!!!

I too, will be cleaning soon. (Although I haven't started yet....) Funny, without knowing you posted about that here, I was ranting over at my place.... Maybe it's blowin' in the wind.... I never do spring's always fall cleaning!

Feels good though, don't it!

I love that last picture of Phoebe and Chet. Such longing in his eyes.

Posted by Anonymous October 30, 2009 at 5:27 AM

Obviously, the Dog Police are off getting unglazed donuts.

"Dog Police?" Is that my new name?

"Everybody has the dog they want" is one of my axioms. "It's your house, it's your rules. Dogs can learn any rule, as long as it is fair and consistent," is another. Far be it for me to judge how someone else raises and lives with their dog, as long as that dog is well mannered, mentally healthy, and safe to have around people and other animals.

Feed your dogs donuts or spaghetti or whatever you choose. Just remember the 10% rule - if 90% of your pet's diet is a nutritionally balanced, age-and-stage appropriate food, then 10% people food isn't going to kill a pet. (Some exceptions: Grapes and raisins, garlic/onions, chocolate, alcohol or caffeinated drinks.)

Also, if you add calories in the form of a treat, then you must subtract calories from the bowl. Otherwise, you create the Number One health crisis in American pets - obesity.

I know Chet is a good weight. However, the number of obese pets out there is shocking and their health is horrible. It is much easier to tell the general public "No People Food!" than to say "A little is OK." I have a client who buys his 45# diabetic dog a "slider" (White Castle hamburger) weekly and another who gives her obese dog its daily pills in chocolate frosting from a can. If you tell them they are killing their pet with kindness, they think you are cruel.

In one study, dogs fed 25% less lived an average of 1.8 years longer than the control group. What is it worth to you to spend an extra two years with your best friend?

Ahh, and I have been so looking forward to my spanking from you, KatDoc! All so very true. I watch Chet's waistline and, although I'd never heard the 10% rule, I do give him smaller dinners when there's more rich stuff cut in on his kibble. And the kids aren't allowed to feed him crackers or cookies or meaningless carbs. When he has ice cream it's a portion the size of a lima bean. He is not a food-motivated dog, but he does have things he really loves. I completely agree about pet obesity--it is such a tragedy to see a dog fed to death. Knowing only that our dachshund loved ginger snaps, cheese and pancakes, we gave them to him freely when I was a little girl, and he died at only 11 of congestive heart failure. So very sad, so unnecessary, and such a great dog he was--and we robbed ourselves of probably two years of his incredible presence.

We kill ourselves the same way, don't we?

Chet walked five miles with us today, and had a nice dinner of kibble topped with roast chicken, and two sweet potato fries. He is content. And thank you for the reminder, a teachable moment to be sure. And one I was waiting to hear.

You haven't heard the 10% rule because it is mine, not publicized until today. It doesn't make sense to say "2 tablespoons" or some other specific volume of treats when dogs can weight anywhere from 5 pounds to 205 pounds. Two tbls of people food for a Yorkie may be too much, while 2 tbls for a Mastiff isn't even noticeable. So, I arbitrarily picked the 90:10 number years ago, and it seems to be a fair ratio of dog food to people treats.

Now, if someone were to control my portions and give me 90% healthy food and 10% junk food, I might be in as good a shape as my dogs. They don't have thumbs, a car key, or a credit card, so they can't drive to the fast food chain or dial out for a pizza.

The Dog Police, who actually prefers glazed Krisy Kremes, thankyouverymuch

I was also waiting for Kathi to pounce. I'm glad she did! Good exchange here. Well, for each girl, I guess one half unglazed donut a week and a few rotinis or spaghettis, 10 green beans, 1/8 cup ice cream, 1 oz. lean chicken, 2 slices of cheese, 2 slices of Virginia baked ham, 1/2 small pork chop, 10 dog cookies (make that 20) can't hurt. I mean, look at my dogs - Chloe's a lean machine. And Bella... just big boned, that's all. ;-)

*shaking head* Mary, Mary .... sigh. It is lucky I am your friend, not your veterinarian.

Cheese and Virginia ham? Two slices for each dog per week? Way, WAY too much of these high fat/high calorie/high SODIUM foods. Make it 2 cubes, 1/2 inch on a side, per dog per week instead of 2 slices each, and I will look the other way.

Do me a favor - gather up all the extra things you are feeding your girls - the donuts and ice cream and pork chops and cheese and ham and even the dog cookies. Then, weigh them.

I will just bet that pile of stuff weighs more than 10% of what your DOG weighs, let alone what your dog's FOOD weighs.

100 extra calories per day equals 10 pounds gained in a year - for a PERSON. Ten extra calories per day (the equivalent of a small Milk Bone-type dog bisquit)in a small dog can do the same thing.

From AMC's web site:
"A golf-ball sized serving of ice cream contains 73 calories. If you give your 20 pound Beagle 1/4 cup serving as a treat once a week, that translates to a 1 pound increase in body weight per year."

Remember, Dogs are not People (thank God!) and they have completely different nutritional needs. Even if your dogs aren't fat, imbalances in their diets can lead to: Diabetes, heart disease, urinary crystals/bladder stones, hyperlipidemia (high cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood) which can then cause pancreatitis and seizures --- Do you want me to continue?

Zick, look what you have started. You have got me up on my soap box, and I have been so good lately.

Mary, Sorry for the harshness of this lecture, but I really DO have your best interests ("you" in the plural, including your girls) at heart.

stepping down now,
~Kat(and Dog)Doc

edit: Math error - 1 small Milk Bone = 20 calories, not 10.


I am taking Chet's one-pound weight gain over the past year much more seriously as of this moment. From 24. 5 lb. to 25.6. I believe bikkits (and spaghetti sauce) may be to blame. Good thing Trader Joe's took the peanut butter ones off the shelves (as they always do with my favorite things). He doesn't like the molasses ones near as well, although I think they're fabulous.

As KatDoc points out, the double standard is a killer. When we regard our dogs as family members, why not feed them the way we feed ourselves? The lines blur. But we have a responsibility to them to control their intake and get them the exercise they (and we) need so badly. Thanks KD. I needed this course correction, and I truly appreciate the time you take to scold us all so thoughtfully, to hit us with your solid information stick. You rock.

I have a pug who is 6 mo old. I know what it is like to have a puppy with large, luminous eyes staring at you and your food with such hope and anticipation. He always looks hungry, even right after a meal. As someone before me commented, I love how you captured those big hungry eyes tracking the food-it killed me...probably because i see it in my home every day.

Why I do believe my cheeks are hot. Oh, I should be ashamed... ;-) I know you are absolutely correct and I appreciate you, Kathi! I keep telling Michael to quit feeding the girls a taste of everything we eat but you see, they are the most talented beggars in Charlotte. I made them that way. Those googly eyes don't blink or never leave your fork and plate, and the long line of drool pools very neatly in front of their feet.

Their basic food is dry kibble. I used to pour gravy on top of it or shake Kraft parmesan cheese on top as a bonus. Not anymore - since Bella came along who tends to be bodacious. Chloe (21 lbs.) has no body fat and her vet says that will add several more years to her life. We need to watch Bella who is an inch or two shorter than Chloe and weighs in the 23-25 lb. range.

Love you, Kathi.

Brenda, Mary, and all:

When I tell clients not to indulge their pets' cravings, the most common reply is, "But he (she) LOOKS at me!" It is that big, brown-eyed (or occasionally blue-eyed) stare that gets us every time. Yes, I said, "Us." I fall victim to that killer stare, too, from time to time. Harden your hearts, dog lovers. Your dogs will thank you for it. (Well, not really, but ...)


PS: Dogs have a relatively poor sense of taste, having only 1/6 the number of taste buds we do. They can detect bitter, sweet, sour, and salty, but not the fine nuances that people can taste. So, eating the same dry kibble every day is no great hardship for them.

I know my dogs swallow things they never taste. Oh, they smell well, but sometimes I wonder why I bother tossing them a green bean. It's down the hatch without as much as one chew.

I'll let you know that today, Kathi, my girls didn't get their evening bikkit and they didn't miss it. I'm going to take your advice and gradually wean them away from the extensive list of "all that". Thanks. I will, however, keep our tradition of having a picnic every day "one small bikkit" outdoors when I get home from work. It makes their day. Well...maybe not theirs - mine.

I'm going to be in so much trouble - first Jim McCormac's cat and now Mary's dogs. Everybody's pets are gonna hate me!

Guess I will have to spoil my own dogs to compensate. ;)

I used to think my dogs were spoiled. Then I met Chet Baker.

Just taught a puppy kindegarten class and to my delight, one of Chet Baker's relatives from Jane Streett was in class. She was the star of the class - so quick to learn and so cute! Only three months old. We had graduation on Saturday, so I won't get to see her anymore.
Can't wait to get one of my own! Love them Bostons.
-Bonnie from Pennsylvania

Posted by Anonymous November 1, 2009 at 10:29 AM
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