Our smaller beagle, Jasper, isn’t really finicky about what he eats. He’s only finicky about where he eats, to the extreme that he’ll refuse to eat until we set the bowl exactly where he wants it. We can’t just set the bowl down somewhere and leave it until he gets hungry enough to stop being such a prima doggie; otherwise the other dog—who’s bigger and finicky about nothing—will gobble it down.
To make matters more interesting, Jasper insists on a different spot every time, and we never know from one meal to the next where in the house he wants to eat today. Just because he ate in one spot this morning, doesn’t mean he wants to eat in that same spot come evening. He always appreciates—nay, demands—a change in scenery. Lately his favorite dining areas have included the following:
1. Underneath the end table between the living room window and the sofa. I don’t like him eating in my living room, because I worry about ants. (While stationed at an Air Force base in California, we lived in a house under constant siege from ants, so I have this complex.) Nothing ruins my day like sitting on my sofa, only to glimpse an ant crawling along the sofa’s arm; or worse, to feel one climbing up my leg. And since there’s no such thing as a single ant, I have to get up and find out where his million and one friends are.
2. In my office. I don’t like this either, because I’m afraid of ants conducting maneuvers in the hundreds of books I keep in there.
3. Out on the patio. I’d be happy if the dog food bowls could be out here all the time. But Mr. Lucky won’t allow it, mainly because the ants would be all over the bowls all the time. When Jasper is in the mood for dining alfresco (once in the rain), we keep it out there just long enough for him to eat, then the bowl comes back into the house. Still I worry a few ants might sneak into the house by hiding under the bowl and clinging to the bottom like escapees beneath a truck leaving a prison camp. Sure, I can always check the bowl before bringing it back into the house. But will Mr. Lucky?
4. Mr. Lucky’s office. No chance of ants coming in here. It’s so cluttered, they wouldn’t be able to find the bowl.
5. Inside Jasper’s crate. If he doesn’t mind sharing his own space with ants, I suppose that’s his business.
Does he ever lead me to the spot he wants? Of course not. I’m supposed to read his mind. I have to wander all over the house with a full dog food bowl in my hand, from the end table in the living room, to the patio, to Mr. Lucky’s office, to Jasper’s crate, and back to the patio, setting down the bowl at each place only to have Jasper turn up his nose and slink away in scorn, until I finally find the right place. When I do, he scurries forward to eat, and I can move on with my life until his next meal.
But if he ever wants to eat in Baby Bear’s room, he’s just going to have to go hungry.