Butch and Kadi long ago mastered the art of eating from a spoon or fork. That's because I've always given them the last two bites of my own meal (as long as it's not on the bad-food-for-dogs list). Lucy and Oliver, my granddogs and frequent houseguests, have also progressed from licking a spoon to taking a bite from it.
At the age of 13, Kadi has recently become less interested in eating than she was in the past, and I've figured out that she'll eat more if I spoon-feed her. I've also discovered that it's nearly impossible to spoon-feed one dog when others are present and paying attention.
The dogs themselves have taught me that it's important to state the name of the specific dog who's going to get the next bite; otherwise, there's a free-for-all grab for the spoon. When I say one dog's name, though, the three others sit and wait to hear their own name called. I've been impressed that they caught on so quickly to the idea of taking turns and with the manners they show when we follow this procedure. But I haven't fully understood just how serious the concept is to them until a couple of days ago.
I was sitting in the living room, holding a bowl of moistened kibble with some canned chicken stirred in. The chicken was something new, so there was a lot of interest in it. Kadi and Butch got the first bites as soon as I sat down, followed by Oliver and Lucy as they scrambled into position. The eating order was established as Kadi-Butch-Oliver-Lucy, and I maintained that order as I doled out the food.
Things got a little bit confusing when the dogs shifted position. Oliver moved in to the left of Kadi, both of them to the left of my legs, and Lucy found a spot to the right of my legs, next to Butch. The feeding order was still Kadi-Butch-Oliver-Lucy, but their sitting/standing order was now Oliver-Kadi-Lucy-Butch.
For most of the meal I had no trouble maintaining the feeding order, but at one point near the end, a little problem arose. I got distracted and accidentally skipped Lucy. The instant I said Kadi's name instead of Lucy's, Lucy came unglued.
Oh.My.God! She stretched up on her hind legs. Her head detached from her shoulders at collar-level and thrust forward about a foot, her neck turning into a large, coiled spring. Her eyes grew about three times their normal size, popping out of her head and waggling independently, on little springs of their own, over the food bowl. Her mouth opened so wide I felt sure she was about to swallow the food, the entire spoon, and my arm all the way to the elbow. We got her message, loud and clear: "IT'S MYYYYYYYYYY TURRRRRRRNNNN!!!"
You can bet I'll pay closer attention from now on. And I'm going to remember the effectiveness of Lucy's display of righteous indignation the next time someone tries to cut in front of me in the checkout line at Walmart.