Jan 23, 2012

Good Dog

For a lab, Tulley is one of the best. Having only just turned 2 in November, people’s first impressions of her are how small she is (many think she is still a pup; she’s only 55 lbs), and how mild-tempered she is. She has been an amazing dog, especially for London and was just what I needed when I was laid off and 5 months pregnant.

Not that we didn’t have those normal lab/puppy struggles with Tulley along the way. My bathroom baseboards and a missing patch of carpet in the family room can attest to that.

One thing we really worked on with Tulley from the very beginning was feeding time. Labs will eat house and home if you let them and never, ever miss a meal. If they do, something is wrong. Melody on the other hand, being a shepherd/husky mix as well as an “old lady”, has always been a grazer. This meant teaching Tulley to leave Mel’s full bowl of food alone, always. We are proud that this is something Tulley has mastered.

Then last Friday morning when I went to grab Tulley’s bowl to feed her, I noticed there was a little bit of her dinner left over. While puzzled, I strugged it off. She was right next to me begging for breakfast any way. But then she didn’t eat her breakfast. She just stared at the bowl and wagged her tail. I gave her the ok command several times and petted her back as added incentive. She finally just went back upstairs to bed. I mentioned the weirdness to Cameron but we both continued to shrug it off. Cameron let her romp outside for part of the day and reported back that he had spied her eating grass. We assumed that her tummy was upset and that she’d be back to normal the next day. Nope. Tulley didn’t eat all weekend.

Finally, on Sunday and the worried mother that I am, I resorted to grabbing a hand of food and placing it near her mouth. She ate it. I poured some food on the floor and she ate it. But when we asked her to eat food from the bowl, Tulley just wouldn’t eat. The same thing was true Monday morning. A call to the doctor only suggested we bring her in if she didn’t eat by Tuesday. Cameron doesn’t think that the doctor listened to him carefully, though. She was eating – just not her normal food from her bowl. She had no problem gobbling up the Ritz crackers London offered her when I wasn’t looking.

Monday night I decided to make her rice and boiled chicken – how could she resist that? And she couldn’t. Tulley gobbled it right down. But I also put it in her hunting bowl since her normal bowl was full of dog food and I was too lazy to go dump it back in the bin in the garage. After eating the rice and chicken with no problem, I placed some food from the normal bowl to the hunting bowl. And she ate it up. So, I performed a quick clean on the normal bowl and put some food back in it. Nope. What was it about this bowl?

Cameron and I finally came to the conclusion that we may have switched bowls on her. Tulley’s and Melody’s bowls are almost the same. The only difference is one has a dog silhouette on it. Neither Cameron and I know which dog had that bowl before, but we have to assume it was Mel’s after all this crazieness.

It had never occurred to us that Tulley would know the difference and shy away from Mel’s bowl, even when she was starving and we’d given her the ok command a million times.

Mel, on the other hand, doesn’t differentiate, which means with food lying around in two bowls all day long for a few days, she’d helped herself to both. So to Tulley both bowls now appeared to be Melody’s. It’s taken a few more washings, and food mixed in with rice and chicken in the bowl a couple of times for Tulley to be eating normally again.

We can’t have Tulley starving just because we mix up the bowls so I started to think about a solution. Obviously, we need a way to distinguish between the two. I went online to look at personalized bowls, but all are ceramic, which is dangerous lying around our kitchen floor, and starting prices were about $20. Add in tax and shipping and getting the right sized bowls and who knows how much that would cost.

I’ve been following several DIY blogs lately, which got me thinking – how can I do this on my own? And then it struck me – Stickers! Better yet, I could create something and print it out on the sticker paper we already have, left over from our Christmas basket projects. We don’t wash the bowls enough nor do we ever soak them so I’m not too worried about them deteriorating too quickly. And they'll be easy to replace when they do.

A little clip art grabbed off the internet, and playing around in paint, plus Cameron putting my sticker paper in the printer, and viola - stickers!

I also gave the dog bowls a good scrubbing before putting the stickers on.



Has your healthy dog ever stopped eating for no clear reason? What other weird things have you experienced with your dogs?


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