Black moustached dog

Pack Leader or Weak Link?

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Gffin's cockatoo, jalapeno
Not waiting until supper, Sugar snatched this jalapeno as I cooked supper.

I am often ridiculed at home for being the weak link. This is usually said when a dog approaches anyone at the dinner table that doesn’t want to share their food. They point at me and tell the dog to go to the “weak link.” Yes, I share my food with my dogs at the dinner table. I’ll share with the cats, too, if they are interested. Why? Because I feel like it’s the role of a pack leader to share their food.

Goffin's cockatoo
I think Sugar begged for this piece of peach out of my homemade cobbler. He’s sitting on the back of my chair at the kitchen table.

Now, I give my dogs nutritious – homemade – meals, but they don’t want to miss out on the variety and sharing that eating my food brings. They have smelled my food cooking and it smells delicious. They just want to know what it tastes like. Wouldn’t you? Of course, they want to know. Sharing a bite or two isn’t a big deal to me. After all, the parrot also shares. As social eaters, that is the parrot way. It is totally unacceptable for me to eat and not share with the parrots. Once I learned that our relationship improved immensely.

Goffin's cockatoo, apple
Sugar is eating a section of apple that I shared with him as I prepared an apple cobbler.

I suspect that dogs are also social eaters, and they believe that sharing is important. Luckily, they are more polite and charming as a social eater, making the parrots look like thugs. I also suspect they are bored with the rotations of food on the menu at home. They are excited to taste something new. I see sharing food as a life enhancement and a matter of social order.

sitting dogs
My dogs are lined up, waiting for their morning treat. Only dogs that sit get a treat, so they are very serious at sitting. They look resentful that I have slowed the process by taking a picture first. Just get on with the treats!

I often wonder about those that keep all their food for themselves. They tell me that the dogs have their own food, so they must not share. I don’t see the logic, and it’s clear that the dogs don’t either. It was the same thing when my children were little. Although they had their own food or snacks, they nevertheless often wanted something on my plate. I shared with them, too. I never thought my food or drink belonged only to me. Besides, defending my food became too exhausting, and I could see that it looked mean-spirited to them. So, I shared. I recalled those moments as a child when my parents tried to eat something without sharing. I didn’t understand why I wasn’t as worthy as they were. I don’t want my children, or dogs, to think the same way. We are all worthy.

dog with big eyes
Tribble is waiting for me to remember to slip her a bite of meat, here. She never makes a peep or jumps, and I never forget. It’s a great arrangement.

It’s no different when we go for a walk. I would like a brisk walk that gives me exercise. My dogs want to experience new smells and an odd sort of social peeing. Is this walk for them or me? It’s for both of us, so I am patient with a reasonable amount of sniffing and peeing. They would also like a brisk walk, so eventually, we all get what we need. It’s that way at the dinner table, too. I cook generously, and there is enough to go around.

Sitting dog; standard poodle
River sits next to the dinner table, waiting for her taste of my meal. Patient, big eyes quietly remind me of my duty.

As a pack leader, I should be considering everyone’s needs, not just my own. Those that don’t share food with their dogs are a strong contingent, I know. They are quick to discuss order and discipline. I don’t find that sharing my food leads to anarchy. Quite the opposite. I guess I don’t find a need for that much structure, and I’m pretty sure that my dogs agree. What Is your experience? Do you share food or not?

Black moustached dog
Garnet is the dogs’ secret weapon. While Tribble and River sit patiently, Garnet looks compelling and cute enough that I am guaranteed not to forget to share my food. And as pack leader, I must be fair. If one dog gets a bite, all three get a bite. Garnet, you are irresistible!

43 comments

  1. I give my food to my pups, but I never thought of why before. I think you are right about dogs being social eaters. When Geordie asked for what I was having, I didn’t feel he was demanding my food but was saying, “Mommy and I share everything!”.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes! We have to listen to them. And sharing makes sense from a leadership perspective. Otherwise, what’s in it for them? Just endless rules and a few belly rubs? Sharing makes us family rather than owner.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I love your thinking on this! We’ve always had a rule, no feeding from the table, to prevent the dogs from begging. Since we had beagles, who are shameless beggars, we thought it was necessary. Hubby breaks the rules when he’s eating lunch though….and then complains when Luke is standing next to him drooling! LOL.
    Luke is a smart boy though, he knows that supper is off limits, and he also knows that if he waits patiently, he will always get the last few bites of whatever we’re having. I can’t remember the last time I ever cleaned my plate – LOL!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Ok, but you are still sharing, so that’s treating Luke like he matters. He’s a patient boy, lucky for you! And your naughty husband! Feeding lunch tidbits! I think it instinctual to share. This is the product of a loving heart.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. They look very focused when they are waiting for a treat. And god help me if I take too long to find the treats or open a new bag. They can only sit still for so long.

      On another note, Tribble always wants more treats. So I’ve been teaching her to wink at me in exchange for a tiny treat. She caught on quickly. We were alone during these sessions and there were few words spoken, Other than “good girl.” Now, however, River sits in front of me and winks meaningfully, a new behavior for her. I think these girls are talking and River wants to earn wink treats, too!

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  3. We totally approve of your approach to sharing food with your pack! We developed a way to try to keep our dogs from pestering guests at the table by always saving them a small portion of what we eat and they have it at the end of the meal. works 100%. Now, with the cats, we haven’t worked that out yet — they sadly do like some of what we eat and are always investigating 😉

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I can’t believe you haven’t trained the cats! LOL. I love our cats and secretly want to be just like them. Rules don’t apply. Can do what I want. Snuggle without apology. Eat off your plate. Sleep during the day and play all night. That’s the lifestyle, OK.

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  4. Oh my how lovely are you three dogs. I have two now, and I dont give them food from me all the time. They do get things though. One of my dogs loves potato crisps. So I share some with her.(not many as they are too salty for her as dogs need for salt is different to ours, and crisps are a very occasional food here. They get fruit and fresh vegies. and love apples and carrots. They also get frozen yoghurt on really hot days. I just pop some natural yoghurt in a container and they have some after it has begun to defrost a bit. They get better food then me sometimes.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have not given frozen yogurt to them in a long time. What flavor do they like? Mine will do anything for peanut butter flavored ice cream, but I rarely buy. We don’t eat dairy, so I just don’t think about it. But maybe I should make an effort for the dogs!

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          1. I bet your guys do. Miss Treacle my wee schnauzer maltese dances, Busby does not. I love your photos really shows the love and devotion they have for you.

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  5. Seems reasonable to me! My cats would rather have their own treats than people food. But when they have taken special notice of something we are having for dinner, I too am willing to share. After all, they’re part of the family. 😊

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  6. I love seeing your birds and dogs. They are all beautiful and look so happy. I feed a raw diet to my 2, and they eat better than me most days. Besides all the varieties of meat, they get most green veggies you can name and several fruits and berries in season. They get fed first (contrary to what is advised by those who preach dominance) and I expect them to be respectful of my and my husband’s time at our dinner table. We do NOT feed them from the table, but sometimes save a little piece of something we know they especially like and give it to them from somewhere else in the kitchen. They both understand, “We’re eating now, go lay down.” At that, they retreat a few feet and stare at us from “afar”, LOL!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Our first dog was that polite. Apparently, I’ve ruined the current pack! I think my 4 children and parrots trained me into thinking that a little bit of chaos is normal and appreciated.

      I couldn’t feed my dogs raw because it made Jazz vomit. Now that he is gone, I’m open to reconsidering my stance.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Birds perceive capsicum differently than people. Thank goodness! Where we perceive heat, they perceive flavor. I have to admit, the pups are hard to turn down. Rather than deny, I prefer to limit. It’s easier and more fun that way.

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    1. If the truth be known, the first few jalapeños were stolen, not given. Once I learned that Sugar likes them, I’ve learned to buy one for him, one for me. He loves them! I’m not brave enough to buy a habanero, so the jury is still out on whether he likes them. I’m afraid to even handle those!

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    1. Yes, I’ve had cats that ate weird things like avocados and cantaloupe. Nami mainly goes for the meat. We’re still learning what Gracie likes. Licking potato chips sounds pretty normal – for a cat! Why eat the whole thing when you can just ruin it for everyone else? Ha, ha!

      Liked by 2 people

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