Thursday, June 13, 2013

My [Breakfast, Lunch, and] Dinner with William

Regular readers know that my dog, William, is getting on in years. Because he was a stray when I adopted him, his exact age is unknown, but he is at least fifteen and possibly sixteen--ancient for a dog his size. Throughout our life together (I adopted him in 1999), William has thrived on the large breed formula of a particular brand of kibble, but about eight months ago, he started refusing to eat it. 

Since then we've been through a number of strategies to get him to eat: homemade dog food made with brown rice and ground turkey; fancy dog food from that refrigerated unit in the pet aisle at ShopRite; various kinds of canned and dry dog food that I thought might appeal to him. Once, in desperation, I bought a brand of kibble that was to his regular brand as Lucky Charms is to Cheerios. I figured, at his age, the goal is just to get him to eat--and he ate the canine Lucky Charms . . . for a while. Then he refused that, too.

For the past couple of months, I have been feeding William meat--round steak, chuck roast, turkey breast, chicken breasts, chicken livers, all beef franks. I've been a vegetarian for twenty years, so I'm wondering how the computers at ShopRite--the ones that track your purchases so they can spit out the appropriate coupons--are processing the information that someone who hasn't purchased meat in twenty years is now buying it regularly and in large quantities.

But in recent weeks, since his good friend Lucy died, William won't eat his meat either--at least not if I just slice it up and put it in his bowl. So, since William is an inveterate beggar at the table, we have adopted what is for me a very bizarre ritual. I sit at the dining table with William's meat du jour on a dinner plate in front of me. I cut up the meat, as if getting ready to eat it myself, and from time to time, I deposit several pieces in a bowl--William's bowl--on the floor next to my chair. William scarfs it up. Then we repeat the process. When William has had his fill, I prepare and eat my own dinner.

Dogs give us unconditional love, but their greatest gift is teaching us to love unconditionally.


  1. Priceless, absolutely priceless. Thank you for this wonderful story Carole.

  2. a sweet story. I remember when my cat White stopped eating at 16, I bought the best salmon, visited butchers, etc. He ate better than I did his last 6 months.

  3. Great story!
    My senior dog has to take chinese herbs with her food, she started refusing it with all the meat choices I could muster ( also a veg myself) but what gets her to eat it is grated parmesan on top.

    1. Great suggestion, hello sapien. Thank you! William loves cheese.

  4. Thanks, I'll remember that when my dog Reba, a Black Lab mix, now 11 ish, won't eat, although it is hard to imagine her being a picky eater!

  5. My old girl is a picky eater but I have found the secret to getting her to eat anything: sardines. They don't do much for her breath but sardines, the fish and the oil on her food, are the key to getting her to eat. Plus, sardines are good for her.

  6. Awww...what a love story!

    Thanks for sharing this.