What I believe about wet dog food

I’ll never be number one on my dog’s list of favourite humans. In fact, if you gave him a piece of paper and a pen and told him to make a list of his favourite persons, he’d probably write something like this:

1. Hilary
(Illustration: Brendan Leonard)

“OK, but who else?” you could say. “I guess what’s-his-name, the person who lives here, he’s all right,” he would say afterwards.

This is alright with me. Dogs require an alpha in their life, and Rowlf’s alpha is Hilary. It’s over, and there’s no contest. But I still consider it my responsibility to assist Rowlf in living his best life, and I try to do so whenever and whenever I can.

That’s why, for the past six months or so, he’s been eating so well. For virtually the first two years we had him, we fed him only kibble, but every now and then we would give him a small amount of wet food, the costly stuff in a can that looks like something a person might eat. Rowlf isn’t a food-motivated dog, so I’ve had to hand-feed him kibble while sitting on the floor, out of a sense of responsibility that he won’t go hungry on my watch.

But he seemed to enjoy the wet food when we mixed it in with his kibble, an upgrade that felt to me like sitting in a restaurant and having someone order for you in a foreign language, then having a plate of raw carrots placed in front of you—only to have the server drop two slices of pizza on top of the carrots two minutes later.

Rowlf’s favourite human, Hilary, was of the opinion that we should use the wet food sparingly, partly to prevent him from anticipating it and then walking all over us, and partly to keep him from gaining too much weight and putting stress on his joints. I discreetly campaigned for additional wet food on a more regular basis, perhaps even every day.

After perhaps a dozen conversations regarding the dog’s food, I finally stated my case as follows:

“A veterinarian estimated Rowlf’s age at seven or eight years old based on his teeth when we got him. That was two years ago, and who knows how reliable an age estimate like that is? We have no idea how old he is, but he appears to be growing white fur around his mouth. Wet food appears to make him happy, and if money isn’t an issue, we should give the dog the meal that makes him happy as often as possible.”

“We just don’t know how long he’ll be with us,” I added, aiming for the emotional high ground.

Hilary nodded and continued, “I suppose you could say the same thing about you, or me, couldn’t you?” with her vast wisdom.

Every meal, our dog consumes one-third of a can of wet food. A half can be used on occasion.

I Hate Running and You Can Too, Brendan Leonard’s latest book, is now available.

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