"I've Been So Hungry" -- For the Food Aggressive Dog
Dogsters are so talented! And they have so much empathy for our furfriends! This piece is by Dogster Darby's furmom, Kathy Pippig Harris. She posted it in the Pet Poetry Group. Let me warn you that this is very powerful and could cause massive eye leakage.
I've Been So Hungry
When I was an older pup the boy where I lived would bring a bowl with a few morsels of leftover human food in it. I was so hungry I hurriedly started eating, then the boy would snicker, reach down and yank the bowl away. My tummy would rumble
because I was still hungry, but I would get nothing else to eat that day.
At times the people who lived there brought other dogs home and we'd get our food all at the same time. I tried to eat my share fast but the other dogs were quicker and they would growl and try to shove me away from my food. I tried to fend them off with a snarl or a nip. Sometimes it worked and I got to finish my meal.
Most of the time I was chained to a tree and teenagers would come around kicking and teasing me. One day my collar rotted through and the chain fell away. I was free! I got as far from that place as possible.
I ran until I could barely move. I heard honking. I turned my weary head toward the sound and the car covered me. My back leg snapped and I tumbled to the roadside. Something was also wrong with my hindquarters. I could not crawl; the pain was overwhelming.
In the gutter I fell into a deep sleep and awakened when hands gently picked me up. The man holding me was murmuring softly. He laid me in a metal cubicle, in the back of the vehicle.
I was taken to a place that smelled of medicines and other dogs and put in a cage. The next day I was carefully carried to a room, put on a metal table. An alpha human shaved my front leg, stuck something into my arm and I drifted away.
I rested and healed. One day I was given a warm bath and toweled dry. My fur shone and no more bugs pestered me--it felt great! Soon the people who were there during the day began to take me out and we would play fetch, run and jump. I was given toys and treats... and I have never been so happy. I was held, cuddled, given affection!
After I was better a lady took me into a room. She made loud noises while watching me. I didn't understand, but I was okay with it. She opened an umbrella near my face, all the while studying me.
I guess she was proud of me 'cause all I did was wag my tail, grinning happily, and when I could I'd reach up, put my paws on her and give her kisses. She clapped her hands, and then gathered me to her in a big hug, saying what a good boy I was.
Lastly, she got a bowl and filled it with food. I got excited--I never tired of getting a meal, having had so few good ones in my short life. She added water to the kibble and stirred it up some. Oh, it smelled so good!
When she set it on the floor I went to it eagerly. While I was eating, out of the corner of my eye I saw what looked like a hand on a long pole. The hand came up to my bowl. I nudged the hand away from my food, stepping around to block it.
The hand kept coming so I growled when it took my bowl and pulled it away from me. I stepped over to get my bowl so I could finish and, again, the hand was thrust at me.
I was remembering how the boy would tease me--how the other dogs would come over to me and steal my food. I was now filled with that same need to protect my meal. I snarled and snapped at the hand.
With a broken sigh, the woman called me to her. I trotted over, panting my smile. I then rolled over, submissively, for a belly rub. But, the lady was shaking her head, her face scrunched up. Something was wrong, she'd been crying, was still crying.
She gave me a big hug and I licked her face. She had been so good to me since they brought me here.
Early the next morning two of the workers came to my kennel. They pulled me out tenderly, but I could sense something was not right for them and that scared me. I shivered when one of the women held me her arms.
I was taken to that same room I had been in when they made me better. The alpha human was waiting inside. The lady holding me sobbed and I whined because it all felt wrong.
So scared I felt I was going to wet myself, I wagged my tail. Is everything all right? I wanted to ask. There was no answer. The workers held me on the table. I struggled against their warm hands.
One of the humans bent over and snuggled close to my head, pressing me close, holding me tight. The other lady held my front leg out, away from my body and I felt a sting. A feeling poured through me, like it did the first time they brought me here, but it was strange and different. I yelped weakly.
And then I was gone.
Written in love for all the dogs that have been euthanized because they have been labeled "Food Aggressive".
Copyright 2007 by Kathy Pippig Harris
There are ways this behavior can be handled. If more than one dog shares a home, feed them separate. Put one in a kennel and feed him or her there.
If he or she is the only dog in the home, feed them and leave them alone until they have finished their meal.
Put them with a human who understands why the dog exhibits "food aggression".
If necessary, don't place them in a home with children.