Like Taking Candy From a Baby
In this article, we see more of Homer’s larcenous side.
Man was born with two urgent and long-prevailing motivations: sex and food. We dogs, on the other hand, being less evolved, pretty much depend on food for as our primary source of satisfaction. Surprised? You shouldn’t be because food is much more available and plentiful. Sex, believe it or not, not so much.
Any dog worth his salt can easily ‘charm’ his way to a human’s mother lode of food in a matter of minutes. Over the centuries, we have become even more wily than the fox, and we have learned not to beg until after our target benefactor has begun to eat; no one wants to share something he hasn’t started yet. Chances of scoring a handout increase exponentially as the meal progresses because of ‘the law of diminishing returns.’ It has been proven that the level of pleasure varies with the amount of food consumed. Thus, your last bite will not be as satisfying as your first bite, and each succeeding bite will be statistically less satisfying than the one preceding it. So, the longer a person eats, the more likely he is to share.
Obviously, if for some reason my target decides that he or she doesn’t like the food they are eating, my opportunities virtually soar. But then, my windfall must sometimes remain clandestine to protect the feelings of the cook, so I generally have to take a position under the tablecloth to receive my ‘gift.’ For instance, Micah Davenport really hates Isabel’s bread pudding but, to this day, he has never told her. So, on bread pudding days, all I have to do is wait quietly under the table and sooner or later, bread pudding! On a plate, no less! No ‘food eyes’ required!
What are ‘food eyes,’ you ask? They are the keys to the kingdom. I just sidle up to a person who is eating, and turn on the ‘food eyes,’ and the rest is history. ‘Food eyes’ is a look, generally in an upward direction (showing the whites of my eyes) that falls somewhere between ‘lonely’and ‘destitute,’ and midway between ‘quiet anguish’ and ‘pain,’ with a touch of ‘pitiful’ thrown in for good measure. If I cock my head a bit to one side and let one ear flap listlessly to the opposite side, it works even better. Obviously, you have to be a dog to do this. No caring, considerate human being can resist ‘food eyes.’
Toddlers generally don’t respond well to ‘food eyes,’ partly because the law of diminishing returns doesn’t apply to toddlers and their mindless addiction to cookies and sweets. And, because I realize that babies really need their nourishment, I try never to snatch food from children under a year old. Even we dogs have a moral compass.
The technique for ‘parting’ children from cookies, cake and candy (we more evolved dogs call it dessert) is known as ‘distract and snatch.’ If you see a small child holding a drool-soaked cookie or snack, you can try ‘food eyes,’ and it might just work; but, the truly proven method is to amble happily up to the child and immediately start to lick his face. Because they are eating, most children will pull back and try to wipe the freshly-licked spot with their free hand, usually the left. That’s when you snatch the food item out of his right hand (being careful not to bite that little hand, of course). Sometimes this can be done so expertly and quickly that, with his limited attention span, the kid never misses the cookie; poetry in motion!
Stealing candy from babies is fun and easy; but it sometimes feels morally wrong, especially when they cry. Give us some credit; we dogs have consciences too!
On the other hand, cleaning out a peanut dish or hijacking a cheeseball from a coffee table without being detected is more fun and less morally damaging. It’s like robbing the rich to feed the poor; petty theft; kind of a Robin Hood scenario. It’s kind of a win-win situation. Pull it off, and there’s a feeling of victory, in addition to the enjoyment of the spoils, and nobody ever really knows what happened to the missing food. Fail, get caught in the act, and you get a severe tongue lashing, maybe a night out on the porch, and spend some time on Isabel’s “B”list. In addition, maybe you’re watched extra close for several months. But it’s not like you’re going to be sent to the pound or anything. Thank God Isabel doesn’t believe in corporal punishment or holding a grudge.
I’m not bragging, but, back in the day, I singlehandedly heisted the Whitlow family Christmas turkey – a well executed plan – and it wasn’t simply petty theft. It was grand larceny! Close and distant relatives in the Whitlow family still talk of me today. Guess you can say I’m bad to the bone. And I’m still around to gloat on the experience. In Isabel’s house, justice is usually swift, but it is not always thorough. When it comes to me, Isabel has a very soft heart. Gotta love it!