I caught 3-year-old Nikki dangling her hot dog-topped fork in front of the dog. I'm not sure whether she was feeding him or teasing him.
Neither is acceptable.
Our -- let's call him "big-boned" -- dog, Buddy, isn't allowed to have people food.
Much to his dismay, being wider than he is tall means it's time to diet.
And he's not the type of dog that is OK with dieting.
That meant his reluctance to form a relationship with the excessively loving Nikki was overcome by her willingness to share food.
He was dubious at first. Who wouldn't be after a move to a new house and one member of your new family has no idea how to take it slow?
She was on his back instantly and giving hugs and kisses with no shame whatsoever.
Then he learned the eating rules. At the same time he learned that Nikki was more than willing to break them.
Thus, the "friendship" was formed.
The downside (other than his lack of noticeable weight loss) is that Nikki often is as willing to lead him on as she is to share.
I've seen her holding her fork under the table so Buddy can lick it clean and, though I can't always prove she's feeding him, his place at dinnertime always is under her chair.
On the other hand, I've seen her hold back a bite of meat from dinner and then go outside, dangle it in front of the dog and take off running.
She loves to be chased, and Buddy (short legs, round belly) often needs an incentive to run.
I'm not sure what to make of it. Nikki loves him unreservedly, and he tolerates her as the quickest means to get what he wants.
She steals bones for him, lets him lick her suckers and fills his food dish whenever it's empty (even if he just ate).
She also steals his food. I caught her with a sock in each hand that was bulging with dog food. She also stands over him while he eats and has been seen transferring his entire bowl of food into his bowl of water.
I think that as they grow, their bond will get stronger (and the dog fatter).
Having a pet -- much like having a child -- requires patience, acceptance, love and understanding.
I'm not always sure I can extend those qualities to a dog when there are two children who need so much, but that's the joy of a family.
What one person isn't giving, another is sure to -- whether or not he is supposed to.
In the joy of differing personalities, Katie seems to barely tolerate Buddy. She screams when he gets near her and bosses him around in a too-girly-to-be-authoritative voice.
But she stops whatever she's doing when she hears he wants in or out.
To each her own, I guess.
I don't think anyone knows what they're in for when they get a pet. Each, like people, has its own personality. Combine that with children and ...
Every day is a surprise.
Christina M. Currie can be reached at 824-7031 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.