Wednesday 6 May 2009

The Further Adventures of Frodo the Faller - wrappers

One morning not long after Frodo the Faller had recovered from the swelling under his jaw and regained his noble profile I was feeding the dogs. All meal-times, canine, feline and human are causes for huge enthusiasm and concentrated interest. Every hand movement is closely monitored, the salivary glands working overtime, the ears registering many nuances from Robert Plutchik's wheel of emotions. However the supremely exciting meal is breakfast.

Our dogs are fed twice a day and the first meal of their day breaks a long fast of around twelve hours. Dominie and Buddy Liver Spots lie down to watch; Jenna-the-Labrador sits neatly and politely, her tail wagging enthusiastically, sweeping rapidly from left to right and back again, polishing the tiles behind her. Frodo the Faller, a tall dog at any time, seems to grow in height and his muzzle is pushed almost into my hand – a particularly dangerous undertaking if I am wielding a sharp knife to cut their meat. At the same time he whinges and whinnies while I perform contortions to avoid slicing his nose. Fortunately, if they are having turkey necks or wings or lamb ribs I only use the meat cleaver for Gentle Dominie's food – the others go outside and are given whole bones.

Some people feed 'lights' (lungs of animals, especially those killed for food) to their dogs. They had a phenomenally flatulent effect on Whisky, our lovely yellow Labrador, four decades ago and so we have never tried them again with her many successors.
I used to buy chunked green tripe but though Buddy ate it eagerly enough he couldn't seem to digest it properly and it sat in his stomach to be regurgitated at some later point in the day – or night - so we now buy it minced and he has no problem with it. Tripe is good food; I remember my father extolling the delights of tripe with salt and pepper but it has never appealed to me. The dogs really like it. When we first, many years ago, fed tripe to the dogs, we used to cook it and the smell was stomach-turning. Then someone kindly and diplomatically told us to feed it raw – it still smells fairly revolting but at least the whole house is not stunk out with it.

The tripe mince is neatly packed in polythene bags for ease of handling. One of these bags slipped from my fingers and before I could draw breath to say 'NO!' Frodo had swallowed it. Normally, I probably wouldn't have worried unduly but as he had been under the weather quite recently I phoned our vet and explained what had happened. Basically I was told to 'wait and see' which is what I would usually do. Anyway, the day and following night passed uneventfully and I never did see the neatly packaged turds I was expecting.

Funnily enough, Buddy did the same thing a few days later – actually he stole a pack – and the end results were, if not encased in polythene, certainly full of evidence of the provenance of the robbery.

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