The Curious Case of the Hungry Dog

You gonna eat that?
You gonna eat that?
You gonna eat that?
I could eat that!
—from a book of verse by a famous Labrador Retriever poet

In an effort to understand my Black Lab’s obsession with food, I consulted Wikipedia.  “Labradors,” I read, “have a well-known reputation for appetite.”  This dainty understatement rivals for fussiness my mother’s assertion that Randy is “just a little food-driven.”  The Wiki spin is that Labs are “persistent and persuasive in requesting food,” meaning they stop short of stalking and mugging.  And, though Wiki says some Labs may be “indiscriminate, eating indigestible and non-food objects,” my Randy has a discriminating palate.  When my mother’s crocheted potholders went missing, I told her, “Frisk the cleaning lady; don’t blame my dog.”

The instinctive food mania of Randy’s ancestors was reinforced by their owners —hunters who shot birds from the sky for food and fun.  Their Labradors retrieved the fallen game gently, careful not to ruffle any feathers.  Thus, Labs acquired a “soft mouth,” in which Wiki claims they can “carry an egg without breaking it” (Randy carries eggs to the stove for scrambling).  Wiki says Labs “instinctively enjoy holding objects, even hands or arms, in their mouths (but) are prone to chewing, though they can be trained to abandon this behavior.”  Such training is especially important when the objects they enjoy chewing are hands or arms.

When not eating, thinking of food or dreaming of food, Labrador Retrievers are “kind, pleasant, outgoing, tractable (and) trusting with strangers.  They are curious and exploratory and love company, following people and interesting scents for food, attention and novelty value.”  In other words, they’ll hop off their front porch and follow a stranger walking by with a cheeseburger.

Lest you conclude that Labs lack impulse control, let me submit three mitigating factors:

*Wikipedia cites a 2016 published study of 310 Labs.  Most lacked all or part of the “POMC gene, which plays a part in appetite regulation.”  So, rather than Randy being a glutton, he simply lacks a factory-installed fuel gauge.

*Don’t we call brown Labs “Chocolate?” (though we mustn’t feed them that).  And don’t we refer to the several shades of Yellow Labs as butterscotch, vanilla or cream?  Just so Randy the Black Lab doesn’t feel left out, shall I rename him, “Licorice John?”

*Wikipedia states that “the progenitors of the Labrador Retriever were actually from Newfoundland (and) the breed known as the Newfoundland was created in Labrador.”

The bottom line?  No wonder Labs are confused and, as with humans, seek solace in food.

This entry was posted in Guide Dogs, Uncategorized and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The Curious Case of the Hungry Dog

  1. Kent Flodin says:

    This is one of my all time favorites. Although Panda and tomatoes and Sherlock and sourdough bread deserve mention.

  2. bethfinke says:

    I questioned Whitney about this, and she declares This post as…yummy.


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