How the Hen House Turns: Dogs Can Taste That Stuff

How the Hen House Turns: Dogs Can Taste That Stuff
Column by Carolyn A. (Cary) Neeper, Ph. D.

Have you ever tasted dog food? Wow. Bland. I had to learn the hard way that dogs can taste that stuff. I wondered, because DeeDee and Scooter have always snarfed the dry biscuits down as if they’d never see food again.

Now I know why. It was because they probably survived on their own for a week at age two or three months (after the fire in 2000) by eating whatever—or whenever a kind person responded to their big eyes and smudgy black and white spots would give them.

Once, when I wanted to see if they would self-limit, I kept giving them cups of biscuits to woof down. They wouldn’t quit until they started heaving during cup number eight. Okay, no self-limiting for these two, unlike our first dog, Poncho. Actually, he preferred leftover peas to dog biscuits.

Then I made the mistake of forgetting to remind the house sitter what DeeDee and Scooter were supposed to eat. Instead of their usual Fit ‘N Trim dry biscuits, she gave them a special food with venison in it plus their “cookies,” oral care knobules.

For weeks afterward, they refused their normal diet fare unless I left it around all day. No matter. They are 13 years old now. They have a touch of arthritis and still do a good job “watching” the birds—turkey, Lucy the goose and all. They can eat or not, as they will.

But now I know. Dogs can taste, or maybe it’s just smell. Dogs can be as finicky as cats, if they’re given the opportunity.