Is it dinner yet?

Around the corner to the right, behind Finn and Maia, is where the dogs are fed their meals. This photo was taken about 6:00 PM, which Maia always reminds me is dinner time. Not 6:01, or god forbid 6:15, but six double zero.

When Finn and I get home from work, Meadow always greets us at the top of the stairs with a smile and sometimes an outstretched paw. Maia, however, is more aloof and makes it clear that dinner is the first order of business. Happy hellos can happen later, when her stomach is full.

These are the sorts of stares I receive until I get around to the business of preparing dog dinners. Hard to ignore. Once I start filling bowls and getting meds ready, Maia starts talking to me to urge me to speed it up.

Before Finn came to live with us, the girls had been taught to leave each others bowls alone, even though they were placed just four feet apart with a water bowl in between. If one didn't eat her portion all at once, that was fine, it would remain in the bowl until she was ready to finish it without worry that the other would sneak in and steal it.

All that changed with Finn. Perhaps because of his rescue background, or simply because of his young age, he was like a heat-seeking missile when it came to food and anything left on the floor, unguarded, was his. Because his meal portion is smaller, he always finishes before either of the girls. He'd then try to horn in on their meal. That was the perfect opportunity to teach Finn "Leave it!" but it was a difficult lesson. I had to supervise every meal, and still do to some extent. The compromise we've all reached is that Finn has to wait until the girls finish their bowls and I pick them up off the floor, then he's allowed to see if a stray kibble landed on the mat where they were eating. That's often the case, so he's doing me a favor in keeping the girls' eating area clean.

I no longer leave any bowls - even empty ones - on the floor after a meal.

Now the girls almost always finish their meals. It's amazing the influence a hungry pup can have on older dogs' appetites and eating habits!

Occasionally, though, Maia won't feel like eating an entire portion when offered. The first time this happened after Finn's arrival, I noticed that laid down very close to her bowl. Realizing she was guarding it from him and wouldn't move as long as it remained on the floor, I picked it up and set it on a counter. That satisfied her and she relaxed. Now, when that happens, Maia knows to find me later, when she's ready to finish her meal. It's all more work for me, but it keeps the peace among three usually hungry dogs.