I have come to realize that I am not as brave as I would like to be. Bessie has developed several habits that under normal conditions would seem acceptable but with the hunger game they are working against both of us. It would be perfect if there was a hidden room in our house where my wife and I could go and eat alone without anyone else being aware of it. Unfortunately, there is none. The kitchen has evolved over the years to become one of the centers of our activity. It it the place where we have all gathered for our daily meals and, even though we (the humans and the Rottweilers) do not eat at the same time, we are all in the same place at the same time. OK, I know it sounds like there would be a simple solution, put the dogs in a different room, but have you ever tried to separate yourself from your best friend? At dinner time when there is food around? Besides, the door would suffer the most.
So while I am doing the cooking and setting the table, I take a few minutes and feed Ruffin and Axl. And for one reason or another, even before I was aware of a problem, Bess had been lingering behind. It may have started when Ruff growled at her while he was eating. Over the years I noticed that Ruff always growled when he ate, he growled with food in his mouth but it was the only time he ever growled so I thought he was growling at his food. Axl never paid any attention to him at first and he was eating from the bowl in the right-hand feeder station. Then, before we got Bessie, Axl started to hang back so as not to be bothered by Ruff when he ate. As Axl got old he started dropping food from his mouth when he chewed and Ruff used to dive on it and snatch it up. I guess the old man didn't like that much. This ended with Ruff eating alone and I would be sitting at the kitchen table holding the bowl of food for Axl.
When we got Bessie she used to attack her food with the same gusto that Ruff did. And at first he didn't growl when she started eating from the same feeder stand. There may be some attempt at intimidation going on, where Ruff tries to get someone to walk away from their food, so maybe this growling did something to her. In any case, Bessie stayed out of the kitchen until my wife and I sat down to eat. So the routine developed that it was the three of us, Bess at the feeder and my wife and I at the table. Then Bess started to ignore her food while we were eating so she could spend more time begging for handouts at the table. Only after we were done with our meal did she go back and finish her own dinner unless Ruff or Axl walked over to it, then she would reclaim her dish. And then the new problem cropped up, she became a finicky eater. She spent less time eating dog food than people food. Her favorite delicacy has always been mashed potatoes. I used to put the mixing bowl on the floor for her to clean out but lately I have been plopping a few spoons of the potatoes on top of her dinner to coax her to eat. This seems to be a hit or miss situation. Some nights she cleans up her own dinner after we are through but occasionally she walk away from it. I've tried flavor enhancements and the Swanson's beef broth seems to work some times.
Breakfast is a totally different situation. I am up around 8am take Ruff and Bess out to pee and then have my coffee. Ruff never turned his nose up at any food but now he eats alone and then goes out back by himself. Bess comes out to the kitchen once in awhile but I have to remember to pick up her food dish before Ruff comes back indoors or he walk through the kitchen and scoff it up. I let my wife stay in bed for a few more hours while I do my email and read the news. Then around 10-11am I get her up, dress her and feed her. Axl does not leave his Mom's bedroom until she is up and dressed and then he comes out and has breakfast with her. This is also Bessie's last opportunity to come out and eat and sometimes she does.
Over the past few days Bessie has been averaging one meal a day, at dinner time. Since she eats her food then I am willing to add some leftovers from the table. Breakfast seems to be a waste since she is never seems to be hungry. I have read that some dogs only get one meal a day so I am trying to make Bess' dinner meal bigger than what Ruff gets to make up the difference. I am waiting for the appetite and food enhancer to arrive that I wrote about. I hope it works as they say.
Meanwhile, here are two pictures I took last night while watching TV. I haven't posted any in awhile.
By the way, over the weekend I had a few nice email exchanges with Sam from Cornell University. He told me he was a micro-biologist and he started visiting this blog after he got a Rottweiler. The conversation got to the point of nutrition and he sent me two links to web site that detailed the minimum daily food requirements for dogs based on age, breed and activity. Basically they are both calorie counter formulas.
At Bess' age the calculators say she needs about 2000 calories a day for growth and Ruff needs the same amount for his size. I tried to figure out what she is getting now but it is not close to the 2000 number. To make matters more confusing, neither is Ruff getting the right amount. The cans of dog food are about 400 calories each and the manufacturer recommends 7 cans a day, an impossible figure. Ruff and Axl get a half a can a day plus four cups of kibble. The bag of Eukanuba large breed kibble doesn't mention calories but the manufacturer recommends 4 1/2 - 5 1/2 cups a day for a 120 lb dog. I had to cut down on some of Ruff's food when he lost his waistline and started getting overweight. He is now a trimmed down 120 lbs, 10 pounds less than last year.
Small update: Yesterday was a pretty good day, today not as much. Yesterday Bess ate most of her breakfast and all of her dinner. This morning she wouldn't touch breakfast at 8am so I gave it to Axl to eat when he got up. Then at 11am Bessie got her peanut butter pills and a large Milkbone biscuit and I opened a can of dog food for her. I tried to spoon feed her and she took about four mouth-full's, less than 1/4 of the can. Next up is an early dinner and then off to the obedience training class. That schedule is a mess with this eating problem.