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Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Bowled Over

You would have thought that the family member with the opposable thumbs would be able to feed three dogs and four cats without dropping the one breakable dog bowl.

You would have thought. Particularly if you were Lilah, whose bowl I had broken.

Poor sweet Lilah. The other dogs wouldn't even have twitched a whisker at the prospect of eating from a new bowl. But for Lilah, whose Border Collie attentiveness means nothing gets past her, it's a challenge.

When Ms. Lilah first came to live with us, she was a bit skittish. And by a bit, I mean very. She didn't like New Things. Like a garden hose. Or a plumber's wrench. Or a box delivered by the UPS man, who had to toss a dog biscuit her way because she was afraid to come closer.  So many things made Lilah anxious or startled her: a school bus on our morning walk, a piece of furniture moved out of place while she was gone.

But that was a few years ago, and with lots of training and practice, and a wonderful game we call Touch it With Your Nose, Lilah today is a calm, sweet, well-adjusted dog who is truly brave and rarely nervous. Just ask Jasper and Tucker, the boys who hide behind me at the vet's office, while Lilah wags her tail and greets the vets with a swishy sweep of her tail and a gentle kiss.

But Lilah is still a bit picky about her food bowl, and doesn't like it when her collar tags clang against the sides. She'll still eat, but you can tell it unnerves her, as she paces around her bowl, trying to find a way to eat each morsel without the accompanying jarring bangy noise.

Which is why I felt so bad about breaking Lilah's special yin / yang dog paw ceramic bowl this weekend. And why I had bought her a new one by the next day, though she did have to endure a couple meals with the Nasty Metal Bowl, even though I took her collar off the make it a little easier for her.

The new bowl was also ceramic, and had an added feature of a rubber bottom so it didn't slide across the floor as Lilah ate. All was right with the world, or at least with dinner that day.

During the after-meal Inspection of the Other Dog's Bowls to See if They Left Anything, Tucker figured out Lilah's bowl had a small curved lip around the top. Which meant he could pick it up. I caught him at it: "Tucker, Drop It." (One of our favorite and oft-used commands is Drop It. It's used almost as frequently as Leave It.)

I was ready for my own breakfast, opening the fridge to get my Greek yogurt, when I heard the crash. I  saw the unmistakable ropy tail of Mr. Tucker disappear around the corner as I found the shards of the new bowl on the floor.

Poor Lilah. Back to the Nasty Metal Bowls.

I will work with her on getting used to eating out of various different containers, but in the mean time, I went online and bought two replicas of her original--and comfortable--bowl.

And now that they've arrived, she's quite content.

(You can read more about Lilah's journey to overcome her fears in a previous post, "Lilah Becoming Brave.")

Lilah enjoying her new old bowl.

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