Lexie loves salmon!

Lex gobbles down a bowl of salmon kibble.

Lex gobbles down a bowl of salmon kibble.

I’m proud to report Lex is not only eating regularly, but she’s eating with gusto!

When our wee pup Charlie recently grew old enough to become a dog, we graduated him to big boy food. We studied our choices for months in anticipation of the switch.

We made our final decision at Costco, when we found Nature’s Domain: Salmon meal & sweet potato formula for dogs (Kirkland Signature brand). It had never occurred to us to feed fish to our dogs. But Matt had heard fish oil was good for a dog’s coat, so his eyes locked on the bag of salmon kibble.

After we brought it home, we filled both dog bowls up with kibble. We decided to include Lexie at least on the first bowl to see if she would give it a go. Every since she was diagnosed with kidney failure last summer, her appetite has been fickle. We finally settled into a routine of feeding her wet holistic dog food (sometimes by hand) and occasionally supplementing with a kidney-friendly can of dog food. It wasn’t a kidney-perfect diet, but most days she would entertain us and eat a bit. She no longer was skin and bones, sitting at death’s door.

Lex has a ball!

Lex has a ball!

So we filled her bowl to the brim with salmon, and watched. She quickly sniffed something new in the air, and checked out her bowl. Lex grabbed a piece of food and thoughtfully chewed it up. She looked back over her shoulder at us, then lowered her face back into the bowl. She didn’t resurface until it was empty.

Lex now repeats this ritual twice a day, almost like she’s a normal dog again. When we forget dinnertime, she’s quick to gently bite our hands, or rambunctiously whine until we feed her. In full disclosure, we still dress up the bowl with dog treats to get her started, but once she’s eating she finishes the bowl on her own.

Could there possibly be a negative in this joyous situation?

I rarely get to sing the “Eat your nummies!” song anymore.

Now that Lex is eating regularly, the physical transformation is undeniable. Her eyes are more alert and her fur is super shiny. She hops up on the couch and her special chair with ease. This after months of me lifting her up.

Lex STILL has a ball!

Lex STILL has a ball!

And best of all, her energy level is at an all-time high. This means she gets to play, and play hard with Charlie. She trots out into the back of the yard, then rushes back full-tilt, running like a puppy.

Not bad for a gal who will turn 15 in a few months.

She’s also started playing with toys again. In particular, she loved these teeny tennis balls made specifically for dogs. She plays catch in the house, and races Charlie to retrieve the ball from the hallway. She also will carry the ball around the house, rolling it around in her mouth.

She also recently developed an affection for Charlie’s deer antler. She’s taken it from him a few times, but then has no idea what to do with it. She’ll sniff it and mouth it, but she’s really lost the dexterity to actually have a chewing session.

Still, it’s cute to see her try. I do believe Lex has got her groove back.



Birthday boy

Charlie sniffs out his birthday pupcake, then almost chokes trying to swallow it whole.

Charlie sniffs out his birthday pupcake, then almost chokes trying to swallow it whole.

Today we had a birthday to celebrate.

Charlie has turned 1 year old!

To mark the occasion, I picked up a couple of pupcakes from the Cupcake Station. Lex took hers on top of a bed of salmon kibble, while Charlie somewhat patiently posed for a gazillion birthday photos. Before Matt snapped the perfect picture, Charlie snatched the cupcake, prompting me to scream. The poor pup spit it out, and tried to hide under a table.

Yeah. Smooth move mom.

I lured Charlie back to the table with the pupcake, and soothing words. When Matt said it was OK for Charlie to eat the treat, he excitedly grabbed it and swallowed it whole.

It wasn’t a grand birthday celebration, but it was officially the first time I’ve ever marked the birthday of a pet. In all honestly, I’ve never known the exact birthday of my pets. I’ve gotten close before. Like I’m pretty sure Lexie was born in June or July almost 15 years ago. But a specific date? You got me.

It’s quite a milestone for Charlie. Turning 1 means he graduated to adult dog food. I’m hoping it also means he’ll quit pooping in the basement. And the library. And chewing the couch.

You’re a big boy now, Charlie. I really want to think your teething and potty training days are behind you.

One year ago, Charlie’s mom gave birth to him and a brother, named Dalton. Somehow they ended up at a kill shelter in Kentucky, and right before they were to be put to sleep, they were rescued by the True Heart Min Pin Rescue. Dalton found a loving family in Kentucky, and we think of him often.

The rescue organization drove Charlie up to us in Michigan last June, and the rest is history.

It’s been an amazing journey so far, loving Charlie as he grew from a young pup into this fine dog.

Even if he still poops in the basement.


Kibble wars

Charlie caught in the act — stealing kibble from Lexie’s bowl.

We told Charlie, “No cat food for you! One year!” Clearly he didn’t get the “Seinfeld” reference. He still sneaks and nibbles.

If he’s not taking Pink’s cat food, Charlie will grab a mouthful of Lexie’s kibble. This pushes Lexie to the puppy chow. And Pink has been spotted gobbling out of Lex’s bowl.

Quite simply, feeding time in our house has turned into food wars.

Charlie came with a yummy bag of puppy kibble, and instantly turned his nose at it. He’s much more interested in the food that isn’t his. Lexie’s run-of-the-mill dog food is gold to him. Pink’s kibble is divine. Her wet fishy-smelling cat food? Charlie is over the moon.

All the while, his puppy chow sits untouched.

The finest puppy kibble couldn’t lure Charlie to his bowl.

So we went out and bought some Eukanuba puppy chow. It didn’t take long before he was sneaking over to Lexie’s bowl and grabbing a mouthful.

Lexie seemed unimpressed, and nibbled at Charlie’s food, wondering what the big deal was all about.

Since the cat isn’t a complainer, it was probably days before we realized she hadn’t eaten. Charlie had been devouring the dry and wet food, and by then Lex has joined in on the kibble larcenies. Pink watched from atop her new cat tree, and plaintively forced a weak “mew.”

Matt hatched the plan. He grabbed a cardboard box that already had an entry spot and an open top. We put Pink’s food in the box, and she could climb in, with protection on three sides. This seemed to work, until Pink followed a floating fuzzball into the front room, leaving the kibble open for the taking. Charlie and Lexie were eager to munch.

Realizing I had to do something, I took on a new persona: Jillian the lunchlady. I’d like to think I’m a bit cuter than the school marms at my alma mater Field Elementary, but I held firm to their discipline. The approach was simple: Put treats in each pet’s bowls to lure them there, then stand in the middle to monitor as they ate. Hopefully from their own bowls.

Pink prefers to dine at a Paul Newman establishment. Lex and Charlie prefer to eat her leftovers.

Honestly, Lex always has been a self-regulating dog when it comes to her food. So getting her to eat on command was more of a wish than a command. Surprisingly, the organic blueberry treats (!) were a hit, and she lingered to eat some of her kibble, as well. Charlie powered through his treats, and ate most of his puppy chow.

Pink was extraordinarily interested in her food for about a minute, then retreated back to the tree. Of course, Charlie made a beeline for her bowl.

“NO!!” I screamed.

He stopped in his tracks. And went back to his bowl.

A rare surveillance photo of Charlie eating from his actual bowl.

Thinking things were under control, I went to the front room to watch some television.

A few minutes later, Charlie rushed in, and spilled a mouthful of Lexie’s kibble at my feet.

Clearly we’re not close to an armistice in this food war.

As we’re finding with our puppy training efforts, these things take time.