Oct 1, 2021
Auggie has a problem. Therefore, Chez Salty has a problem.
Auggie is a Foodoholic.
When Augustus Megatron Bulldozer Kingsbury was a mere 7-week old pup, he would charge to the communal puppy bowl in the whelping box and gorge himself. Having wolfed the kibble in his personal area down, he would shove his brothers and sisters aside and eat their food. As the food in the communal bowl depleted, Auggie would claim more and more space until it was only him at the bowl.
When all the kibble was gone, he licked the entire bowl clean- and the area in front of the bowl such that it was sterile. Not a microbe remained. The other pups had been asleep for over an hour.
Dog help us– we thought it was cute.
When we brought Auggie home, he was pretty much unfazed about the whole process– the removal from his mom, the car ride, his new surroundings, meeting Max. After a day or so, Aug strode over to Max, who was lying down on a sunny patch of hardwood floor and tried to suckle him.
Max did what any male would do with an infant trying to suckle him. He calmly drew one of his rear legs back and shot the 8-week old Auggie across the slick hardwood floor until he smacked against a stout dining room table leg.
Auggie shook it all off and went to check his food bowl. He never tried to suckle Max again. He merely developed other avenues for food exploitation– stealing, begging, terrorizing, coercion… and MURDER.
Well, not murder. I have to make this a little interesting, right? Like putting MURDER in all-caps so your eyes are drawn to it and you think this blog is much more exciting than it is.
Auggie suffers from what non-professionals call the VEVE Syndrome- the Vomit-Eat-Vomit-Eat Syndrome. Auggie would eat his food so fast that he would vomit it up. Then he would eat his vomit so fast that he would vomit it up again. And eat it again. And again. It was pretty disgusting. Auggie took VEVE to a whole new level of veterinary science – The VEVEVEVEVEVE Syndrome.
Not wanting to have to watch the whole Vomit-and-Pony Show, or having our expensive new puppy die of bloat, we got him a slow-eat bowl. Originally it was just a Bundt cake pan with a couple lacrosse balls in it so Aug had to push the ball around the pan to get to the food. As he grew, he simply grabbed the lacrosse balls in his mouth and spit them across the floor. That way, he was able to ram as much food into his digestive tract in the shortest time possible in order to achieve the bloat that would kill him.
So we got a proper Slow-Eat-Bowl and it drove him crazy. He would make little whining sounds like two giant hands were squeezing a leaky bellows rhythmically. It was weird, but there was no vomit or danger of bloat, so Liana and I were happy. It was just weird.
And Auggie hated it.
Auggie is a smart little dog, so it was only a matter of time before he figured out how to grab the slow eat bowl and fling it across the floor, scattering all that kibble everywhere. He found out pretty quickly that flinging his kibble everywhere was basically a siren that alerted Max that Auggie’s food was scattered everywhere and he couldn’t possibly defend it all. So Max would run from his bowl and scarf up as much of Auggie’s kibble as possible. We never stopped Max when he went for Auggie’s far flung food. Max just growled and raised his hackles when the Puppy Aug came to his bowl looking for a little reciprocation. And I Swear to Dog that Max had a smile on his face every second it happened.
Again, Auggie is smart. So his next move was to flip the bowl over so his kibble didn’t go very far. He would defend that kibble like it was Stalingrad. The trouble was that Auggie’s bowl was next to the communal water bowl. He bit both Max and Coal after they finished their meals and wanted some water.
So we enforced an “understanding.” We took half of Auggie’s food and put it in the Slow-Eat bowl, then sprinkled the other half over a 1ft x 2ft food mat under his food bowl. Then we’d enforce a No Fly Zone around it until he was done eating. The No Fly Zone was perhaps the biggest help.
That took care of our worries of bloat and Aug attacking the other dogs.
But Auggie didn’t like it.
Auggie settled into life at Chez Salty by terrorizing Max for all kinds of things, but especially food.
We were empathetic dog owners and we’d give each dog a long-lasting treat like a pig ear after dinner.
Pup Auggie would chomp his ear down as fast as he could and come after the remains of Max’s. Max would growl and show his fangs, but Pup Auggie was undaunted. Max even went so far as to bark threateningly at Auggie and snap at him. But that just made Max lose control of his treat.
Auggie would stab after it and run away before Max even knew what happened. Then we’d spend a bunch of time chasing Auggie down and returning the drooly, partially-chewed ear to Max. Could better time be spent than chasing a headstrong puppy all over the house for a slimy, partially-chewed severed animal part? Most definitely. But WE were the leaders of this pack and we had to have some kind of coherent administration over it no matter how pathetic.
And Max could be a jerk about it, too. Like in this video when he taunts Auggie with a massive rawhide chew. You must understand this was when we didn’t understand how bad rawhide was for dogs, SO DON’T WRITE ME EMAILS AND TELL ME THAT, OK? GAWD.
Notice Max has every opportunity to run away through the sliding glass doors and enjoy his bounty in peace, but he chooses not to. He chooses to stay and taunt Auggie. And that’s not a good thing to do to a smart, determined Lab puppy with an eating disorder.
And look at how persistent Auggie is in that video. He stalks Max on the exotic green shag carpeting like a leopard. He pretends he wants nothing to with Max. Then Aug lays an ambush and strikes at the coveted rawhide when Max most suspects it.
And look at that little Demon Auggie nip at Max’s tail, legs and face!
Even now, if I give all the dogs a treat, Max will take his out and bury it somewhere because he doesn’t want Auggie to get it. Then Max will dig it up 2 weeks later and parade it in front of Auggie. Of course it’s disgusting and swarming with filth and stink, but Max thinks it’s something great.
And so does Auggie.
Max never took any of Auggie’s crap when it came to food. Neither would Buddy. Buddy actually growled at Auggie when he got near his food. I only saw/heard Buddy growl twice- Once was when I tried to take back a coveted Landjaeger sausage that he stole from me, the other was when he growled at Auggie for encroaching on his food bowl.
When we got Coal, Auggie had a whole new dog to coerce. Coal wasn’t particularly motivated by food, nor was he even close to being an Alpha Dog. So Auggie would finish his own food and run over to Coal’s station. Coal would actually move aside and let Aug eat it. And if Liana and I didn’t intervene, it started a whole new VEVE episode for Auggie, who defended his pile of vomit like a one-dog Marine battalion.
We had to supervise mealtimes just for Coal and we were glad to do it rather than clean up all that vomit and feed Coal again.
Like every dog owner since the beginning of time, Liana and I give all our dogs a semi-long-lasting, after-dinner treat like a pig ear so we can get on with our normal lives of writing meaningless blogs or watching trashy TV.
But when all the treats were all doled out and Liana and I went back to watching trashy TV, or arguing, or incriminating each other, or going through the motions of writing a blog, Coal would come over to us and stare at us with his ears back and a tearfully sad face like this:
Then I’d have to get up and find Auggie. I’d usually find him in some dark corner of the cabin with two pig ears. When I went for the untouched pig ear, he’d look at me as if to say, “That pig ear was here when I got here!” or “Don’t be silly! Coal gave that to me!!”
I’d take the ear back to where Coal was patiently waiting. I’d give it to him and he’d crawl under my desk– safe from the roving, voracious, 4-legged stomach that was Auggie.
Max was just happy to be finally left out of all the fiascos.
Let’s be clear. When you come into the shop and Auggie comes running up to you, he doesn’t sniff your pants because he cares about you. He’s not sniffing your pants because your dog 500 miles away left a scent on them. And he could care less about your cat. He is sussing out whether you have treats in your pockets and failing that, whether you’re smart enough to give him some treats from the free treat bowl.
Auggie will patiently wait at the free treat bowl. He will look at you directly in the eye and then at the treat bowl. Then you. Then the treat bowl. Then you….. until you get the message to give him a treat.
If you aren’t particularly bright and can’t put together what Auggie is asking of you, he will disdainfully shrug off your head rubs. He will edge away from you like you have open sores so that another chump tourist can get him a treat.
And Auggie remembers.
If you are a regular in my shop and don’t give him a treat from the bowl, he could care less about you and won’t come out .
If you’ve EVER given Auggie even the merest speck of treat from the bowl and you walk into the shop, he scrambles out like a Looney Toon character from behind the counter to be your best friend. Even if the last time you gave him a treat was 5 years ago, Auggie will come roaring out and thank you over and over by licking your legs. And expecting a treat.
If you’ve ever given Auggie a treat, you are treat-bonded for life with that fat little dog whether you want to be or not.
You can tell what Auggie has in his food bowl by how he wags his tail:
Regular Kibble – Tail wags back and forth robustly.
“Exotic” Kibble Like Duck or Lamb – Tail spins like an unbalanced helicopter rotor and is in danger of flying off and killing someone or somedog.
Canned Food – The nuclear fuel has breached the sarcophagus and Auggie’s tail could result in a Chernobyl-like disaster.
Stella & Cheweys – Run for your life. It’s gonna blow.
Auggie isn’t only happy when he’s eating. He’s happy when you’re eating too. It makes him happy when anyone and everyone eats.
Sometimes when it’s just me and him at the cabin, he’ll come up on the couch and sit next to me when I’m eating. He nuzzles his head into my armpit. He looks at me longingly and sighs repeatedly. He’s pretty frickin’ cute.
I’ll put a piece of carrot from my salad in my mouth. Auggie gets excited and wags his tail for me. Then I offer one to Auggie. He gently takes it and chews in happy, wide-eyed wonderment and wags his tail. Then I’ll eat something more substantial like a fingerling potato with some gravy, and he’ll stare at me in disbelief- the same way us Bipeds would look upon a race of space aliens that had mastered shape-shifting.
He looks at me longingly. He drools. He nudges imperceptibly closer to me. I’ll give him the tiniest bit of gravied potato and he swallows it without chewing like a large, furry, black duck. Then he jumps up, wags his tail furiously, and gives me “kisses” until I tell him to stop.
Then we being again.
You’d think that Auggie’s Addiction would cause him to behave badly around all food. The truth is that he’s actually very well-behaved around Biped food. He learned long ago that to behave badly around Biped food got you quickly locked away just when Biped food was most likely to end up in his tormented gullet.
For example, I can leave a burger & fries or fully-loaded shopping bags in the front seat of my truck and Auggie won’t touch a bit of it. Even if I leave him in there for hours there won’t be even a microscopic dollop of Aug drool on it.
But if I throw an empty Dunkin’ Donuts bag in the passenger footwell of my truck along with the burger on the dash, Auggie will grab the DD bag immediately and bring it to the back seat. There, like an archaeologist, Auggie will meticulously take the wrappers out of the bag, unfold them and lick them free of organic matter. The burger remains untouched.
As a sidenote, back when DD gave out those white Styrofoam cups, Auggie would flip the top off and nibble the cup to the meniscus of the old coffee. He wouldn’t drink the coffee. I’m sure of that because the caffeine would make him sick or kill him. I had no idea why he did that. Maybe it was his way of satisfying his “urges” without being a “Bad Dog.” He doesn’t do anything with the old paper DD cups.
Auggie’s also good at not begging at the dinner table. Of course he and the other dogs will try to sidle up to us when we’re eating. But if Liana or I say “GO LIE DOWN,” Auggie and the other dogs will sulk off to the living room. Auggie chooses a spot where he can observe whether it’s another boring old Biped dinner, or Liana and I will engage in some kind of spontaneous Food Fight where unregulated Biped food will cascade everywhere in delicious waves.
That’s only happened once.
At the very least, Auggie’s in the living room observing the dinner and which Biped is dropping the most food on the carpet. He’s also trying to figure out how to get at it before the other dogs. Full disclosure- I’m the Biped who drops the most food on the floor. Also on my shirt.
At parties, Auggie is a begging machine. All those years at the treat bowl have given him a great sense of who’s a sucker and who’s a waste of time. He’ll work these Biped Chumps by tailing them softly- always being there- ready with a “kiss” and a tail wag. The Biped will actually believe Auggie fancies them and give him all kinds of things – cold cuts, cheese, dip, chips, pickles (Yes. Auggie likes pickles), pasta, crackers, sandwich ends…. etc, etc, etc….
And when the food stops flowing, Auggie ditches that Biped Chump to find another food-giving sucker. Auggie can gain up to 5lbs in a single party.
I rest easy in the fact that if us Bipeds ever perish in a hail of neutron bombs, a deadly virus, genocide, or indifference, Auggie will survive just fine without me. That’s IF he makes it past the initial gluttony of the first couple days. He could realize his dream- tons upon literal tons of unguarded Biped food- only to die of bloat, chicken bones stuck in his throat, or those same bones perforating his small intestine without a vet and Liana & my deep bank accounts.
But if he makes it past that point, he’s golden. That dog can forage.
In the early spring, he goes out and attacks wild strawberries in the field. He comes back with his jaws and muzzle all red and goopy like he just tore several children apart at the throat. He’s awfully proud of it and on a powerful sugar high.
In the early summer, there’s low-bush blueberries. Aug will lower his jaw and move methodically through the scrub like a blueberry rake. When his mouth is full, he chomps down the whole mouthful- berries, twigs, leaves, insects and all. It’s interesting when it all comes out, if you get what I mean. If it’s painful, Aug doesn’t show it.
Mid-summer is the high-bush blueberries or huckleberries. Aug has learned to step on the bushes and push them to the ground so he can strip the berries in an industrial fashion. You can’t see him, but you can see the bushes being whipped around like the T-Rex in “Jurassic Park.” When he emerges, he’s covered in about a dozen half-dollar-sized spiders clutching to their ripped webs.
Late summer is raspberry and blackberry season. These are a little bit tougher for Aug to cram in his mouth wholesale because of the thorns, but he will slide his fat, furry body intricately through the matrix of deep brambles. His body is somewhat streamlined when he’s moving forward. But when he tries to back out, he’s as sleek as an ore-mining dump truck.
When I whistle and it’s time to go, the thorns sink deep into Auggie’s butt as he tries to back out. In my crueler moments, I go, “Beep! Beep! Beep!” When Auggie finally backs all the way out, not only is he covered in huge spiders in their webs, but he’s got thorns sticking in his rear legs and butt.
In all fairness, after Armageddon, Auggie would never back out. He’d keep going and eating those raspberries and blackberries until he got sleepy.
Autumn is apple time. Of course Auggie just eats the rotten ones from the ground. Rotten apple time means farts and Soupy Poopy time. Liana and I do everything within our fragile power to keep him out of the rotten apples, but I’m sure after a couple years in the wild, Auggie would understand that rotten apples were only for emergencies.
And when the warm days run out, Auggie will chomp down the Rose Hips at every beach on Southport to avoid scurvy.
Into the winter, I’m guessing he’d traverse the shoreline and eat the various flotsam and jetsam that washed up- dead crabs, sea birds, kelp stalks, particularly tasty sand…..
And my guess is that Auggie, Cute Little Doggie, would not consume the vast reserves of rotting human flesh after Armageddon. He would survive simply by following the ring around the nuclear explosion where all the frozen pizzas are cooked perfectly.
He’s that smart when it comes to food.
-Don- Not a Dog