by Susan J. Kroupa
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Recently, a reviewer who otherwise liked Bed-Bugged, gently chided me for that fact that Molly often slips Doodle some of her food. The reviewer stated she didn’t agree with the author that human food was good for dogs.
I smiled because the author was just allowing the characters to act naturally.
The quickest way to turn potentially engaging characters into cardboard is to have them become puppets to mouth all the author’s pet (no pun intended) ideas.
In the Doodlebugged books, the three main characters have three different ideas about what foods should be in a dog’s diet. The boss, Molly’s father, thinks Doodle should only eat dog food. Molly acts as most ten-year-old girls might—she slips Doodle scraps and extra treats when she gets the opportunity. And Doodle, well, he views the whole dogs-shouldn’t-eat-human-food idea as selfish behavior on the part of humans. Early in Bed-Bugged, when Doodle is still getting used to his new job, the boss picks up some hamburgers on the way home from work. Doodle notes,
“I can’t help but drool for the rest of the drive back, the scent of those burgers filling the van.
Of course, it’s the same old dry dog food in my dish when we get home . . . But I’ve known since I was a pup that the bosses are stingy with their own food, which they like to say is bad for us. I wonder if they say that so they can keep it all for themselves.”
Three different characters and three different views on the issue.
That said, since the books are aimed both at middle-grade kids and readers of all ages who enjoy gentle mysteries, I wouldn’t want to promote, through a sympathetic character, anything that could be actively harmful to dogs. It is totally within character for Molly and the boss, as reasonably well-educated dog owners, never to give Doodle chocolate. Doodle, on the other hand, notes that chocolate smells wonderful, and views the fact that humans won’t share as more proof they want to keep it all for themselves.
He’s wrong, of course. We all know chocolate is bad for dogs, just as we know we have to be careful to keep it out of reach, since many dogs will eat it given the chance.
But this got me wondering about dogs and food and I innocently wandered over to the Internet to read about what dogs should or shouldn’t eat. Image
As Doodle would say, Whoa! I’ll leave the often rancorous dog-diet wars (Omnivore or carnivore? Higher protein or lower protein? Raw food or cooked food? Grains or no grains?) to more hardy souls.
While I don’t subscribe to the idea that dogs should never be given any human food, I believe all dog owners should know which foods can be dangerous for their pets. Most sites agree that along with chocolate, forbidden foods should include grapes, macadamia nuts, coffee, anything with caffeine or alcohol, onions and garlic, xylitol (a sugar alcohol used in gums and some candies), and yeast dough. Some add dairy products because, like humans, some dogs can have lactose intolerance. And most advise to avoid or limit very fatty foods, as too much fat in a dog’s diet can lead to pancreatitis. Finally, never give a dog any human medicine unless it has been prescribed by a vet. Aspirin, acetaminophen, and ibuprofen lead the list of human meds that can be toxic to dogs.
The website http://hounddogsdrule.com/k9-classroom/dangerous-foods-toxic-substances/ has a colorful chart of foods that are both good and bad for dogs. Other sites might have some differences in their lists.
Meanwhile, I’ll continue slipping Shadow the occasional bite of cheese or banana.
Doodle would approve.
Susan J. Kroupa is a dog lover currently owned by a 70 pound labradoodle whose superpower is bringing home dead possums and raccoons and who happens to be the inspiration for her Doodlebugged books. She’s also an award-winning author whose fiction has appeared in Realms of Fantasy, and in a variety of professional anthologies, including Bruce Coville's Shapeshifters. Her non-fiction publications include features about environmental issues and Hopi Indian culture for The Arizona Republic, High Country News, and American Forests.
She now lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains in Southwestern Virginia, where she’s busy writing the next Doodlebugged mystery. You can find her books and read her blog at http://www.susankroupa.com and visit her Amazon Author page at http://amazon.com/author/susankroupa.