You could be forgiven for thinking that below is an image of a little dog happily eating her tea in an ordinary kitchen.
Not so. It is an image of a ferocious wild dog in the Serengheti-Mara region. There are twelve babies to be suckled and she hasn’t eaten for a week. She is outnumbered by the seven starving hyenas which surround her, and she’s as tense as a tuned violin string. She must fight for every mouthful.
So as she yoff-yoffs her meal she utters ferocious growls and yips. If she fails to devour every last morsel within three seconds her prey will be snatched from her and she and her cubs will die.
Scene fades to well-fed dog in suburban kitchen. Only the sound effects betray her true persona.
If I kept a lion I expect I would get used to hurling its food into the back of its cage and beating a hasty retreat. I am, however, loath to do this when feeding my dog. It’s not that I fear making a mess, for I know that not a fragment would remain for long.
It does make me a little squeamish to know that if I get too close to her bowl she would not only eat the hand that feeds her but the rest of the body too. But what really makes me uneasy is her unfettered fury around food.
Of course challenges around food are common in rescued animals. I once had a border collie who had been starved. For weeks she would not eat unless everyone, humans and animals, left the room and closed the door behind them. And a little cat who would only eat if stroked continuously while her head poked out of a small cat-sized circle cut in her box. While a deprived Shih-Tzu made up for lost time by eating anything – including an entire packet of Polo mints inside their foil and paper wrapping. She even buried a Winalot bone in the litter tray for later.
Isis was found with the ropes round her neck fixed to a five metre chain so it is assumed that she spent most of her two years tied up. This must have been a severe disadvantage when there were scavengers around.
I don’t make her wait for her food – this would be unfair – but now I give her treats only after she sits for a few seconds. I think that food manners will have to wait, but it’s a start.
I know she doesn’t have feathers, Kerry, but do you think there are vultures in her lineage?
Isis came from the Aeza cat and dog rescue and adoption centre in Aljezur, Portugal. For information about adopting an animal from the centre, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or www.dogwatchuk.com