Last Monday night Bessie completed her 6-week obedience school training. In spite of her ongoing eating problems she managed to pass the course. I was hoping to post a picture of her certificate but they didn't have it ready in time. It had become a weekly event to bring everyone up to date on Bessie's progress. So Monday night I made a shocking announcement that had everyone talking. I had found a way to get Bessie to eat. A few weeks ago the trainer suggested I substitute dog kibble for treats to use while I was having Bess go through her lessons. The dog kibble worked fine getting hand-fed to her since I had not been able to get Bessie to eat the kibble from a bowl but I still had problems with her eating the canned food.
The shocking announcement that I made in class was about a recent observation I discovered during dinner. It has to do with what we and our Rottweiler companions consider to be normal in our house. We know how much they always study us and pay attention to what we are doing so if you think about this that way, maybe it won't sound so shocking. Everyone who reads this blog on a regular basis knows that my wife Jacqueline has been suffering from Alzheimer's for several years. I often mention that Axl knew something was wrong the day we adopted him seven years ago and that is why he has never left my wife's side. Seven years ago my wife was a different person, she was able to walk and talk and take care of herself. And she was able to feed herself, too. Now, all that has has changed and my Rottweilers have witnessed all of it.
Long before we adopted Bessie, I had become my wife's full time caregiver. For as long as Bessie has been living in our house she has watched me spoon-feed my wife at every meal. Last weekend as we sat at the dinner table, as I was feeding my wife I was also coaxing Bessie to eat her can of dog food from her metal bowl. I was having no luck so I picked up a chunk of dog food on a fork and offered it to Bess to eat and she took it and ate it. I then took turns feeding my wife and picking up more dog food from the bowl and feeding Bess. By the time dinner was over she had consumed her entire can of dog food. And when I told an abbreviated version of this to the people in class they were shocked. I told them I had spoon-fed my dog the same way I spoon-fed my wife.
If Bessie had this eating disorder any time after she was fully grown I don't think I would have taken such drastic measures. The problem now is that Bessie is going through a growth period and to allow her to starve herself into eating would deprive her of her daily level of nourishment and that could stunt her growth and affect the development of her bones and joints. I found that the so-called "three day cure" wasn't working. In theory, if she was completely reluctant to eat then after three days of hunger she would be forced back to her food dish. In reality it didn't work that way. Bessie would come to her dish ever day and take a nibble and then walk away. Her nibbles of food staved off her hunger pains but also prolonged her state of undernourishment. That is why it stretched out this problem from a few days to a few weeks and I had to do something, anything, to fix it.
So for the last six days Bessie has been eating breakfast and supper by being, not exactly spoon-fed, but fork-fed her cans of dog food and in between she eats a few handfuls of kibble. And she has begun to put back on the weight she lost. I am happy with the results and will worry later about fixing any other problems I've caused.