When I was younger, a friend decreed, to my surprise, that I collected elephants. Lo and behold, after a few birthday parties, I had amassed a respectable number of elephants and elephant accouterments. I even learned elephant lure. Did you know elephants with their trunks pointed up are good luck? Unfortunately, I already had a number of downward-pointing-trunk elephants in my collection by the time this helpful tidbit came my way.
The other day when I was going through boxes stashed in my parents’ attic (I can practically hear my sister shouting her approval as she reads that sentence), I stumbled on remnants of my collection. There, nestled between books, letters, a surplus of decorative fans (I assume gifts from my grandmother), were an elephant pin, a rubber stamp, and, carefully wrapped in pink tissue, a delicate glass figurine, trunk pointed up.
Now later in life, I find that, just like my elephant collection, I have become an unintentional collector of dog food.
When Pettigrew was younger, we conducted taste tests to determine his preferences. We would line identical containers of dog food on the floor and then watch to see which ones Pettigrew preferred.
He would first walk the line, sniffing each bowl before returning on his second pass to eat the ones he liked. We assumed he went with his favorite first and proceeded in decreasing preference. (We never considered whether he was, perhaps, saving the best for last.) We’d record the order in which he ate, check the numbers on the bottoms of the containers and consult our key–please, only a double-blind study would do–and then purchase his favorite. We kept the leftovers for treats, or to mix with his regular food to add variety.
Even with this careful plan, Pettigrew rarely ate his food in one go. Typically, he’d graze throughout the day, only finishing his bowl moments before dinner, as he knew he would get no more until he finished his breakfast. Other times, he would fast for a day or two, and then, like a snake, play catch up, ravenously eating everything offered.
Now my dog food collection is dominated by formulations for sensitive tummies and geriatric pooches. Periodically, when I think we have a workable plan in place, I donate Pettigrew’s rejects to a shelter.
But I find I’ve become superstitious. As soon as I get rid of my collection, I’m afraid Pettigrew will reject his current diet and we’ll be back at the start. So, I think I’ll hold on to it for a little bit longer.