The dog wasn’t hungry.
If one were to ask those who cared for her, they would confirm she wasn’t hungry. She had recently been fed a large meal of dog food mixed with several pieces of chicken and a bit of rice.
A king’s meal for a dog.
That wasn’t how she perceived things. She didn’t remember the meal per say, or the ingredients that composed it.
She merely knew she had eaten recently. She enjoyed the pleasant feeling of a full belly, and the calm that came with her sated appetite. She idly raised one leg to scratch her ear, then slowly stretched, and lay down in her crate. The humans kept her door open, allowing her to come and go as she pleased, as long as she behaved.
Thus she was on her best behavior, and hoped to be rewarded with an extra table scrap when the humans were done.
She looked up as one of her humans walked from the kitchen to the table, bringing with her four glasses with red liquid.
Her humans sat at the large table in the dining area, occupying five seats. To the right, the two humans she didn’t recognize occupied seats opposite each other. She knew they were friendly: they had both knelt and extended their hands for her to sniff when they entered her home. They had made soothing sounds as well, and tried to get her to approach them.
She had resisted at first: it wouldn’t do to have them know they could enter her home whenever they wanted. Thus she had engaged in a medium amount of barking: loud enough to let them know she felt they were intruding on her space, but not fierce enough to scare them away.
The proper amount of barking was an art form, which she knew well.
Satisfied she had sufficiently barked, she approached the humans and allowed them to pet her. In doing so, she tested their limits. The female wouldn’t allow her to climb onto her, but the male did. He was obviously the weak one. She would use this information to her advantage later if needed.
Her humans occupied the remaining seats to the left. Her leader human sat closest to her. He was the most important one, the one she loved the most, for one simple reason: he fed her. Every meal was delivered by his hand, which made him the best human.
Opposite her, the female human, or the second human, as she considered her on the list of priorities. She was not as important as the leader human, but important nonetheless: she fed the dog when the leader wasn’t home.
Last but not least, a smaller human sat in a tall chair at the head of the table. The dog thought of this one as the tiny human, and also as her favorite human. She hugged the dog constantly, and often shared her food and toys.
The tiny human was a new addition to the home, and in the dog’s eyes, a very welcome one.
The dog’s ears perked up at the sound of food striking the floor. She kept her head down as a precaution: she didn’t want the humans or her prey to know she was aware of its existence.
Slowly, languidly, she raised her left eyebrow, and used her eye to search for the source of the sound.
Just below the tiny human, was a piece of bread.
Now, bread wasn’t her favorite food. It wasn’t meat, or poop, or a used sock, or any of the other strong smelling things she was drawn to. But she was interested. She remembered its location, then closed her eye and relaxed.
Her time would come.
The tiny human shouted, and another piece of food hit the ground. The impact had a wetter sound, and the dog’s eye snapped open once again. A wetter sound usually meant meat. Was it the case? She had to know.
She couldn’t locate the food with her eye alone, and she took the risk of raising her head to get a better angle. There, behind the chair leg, was a piece of tomato. Disappointed, she put her head down again. Tomato was tasty, and juicy, but lacked the fine texture and satisfying feeling of meat.
However, now there were two pieces of food. The temptation had grown. Was it worth the hunt? She wasn’t fully convinced. If her humans caught her eating food that was not hers, she would be punished. The leader human would growl at her menacingly, and might even lock her in her crate. They always let her out after they were done eating, but that meant she wouldn’t get scraps.
She loved scraps.
Her thoughts were interrupted as a third piece of food struck the floor. This one had fallen closer to her, and it was obviously the best piece. She raised her snout, sniffed as hard as she could, and confirmed her suspicions: pork. A long, thick, piece of pork, with juice that dripped from both sides, which told the dog it was cooked just right.
She never understood why the humans liked their meat cooked: it lost so much flavor. Obviously they didn’t understand the importance of preserving the meat’s integrity so as to…
The tiny human yelled again, and flung another piece of pork from her hand. The dog watched as the piece soared majestically through the air, flinging droplets of juice in all directions, only to land right next to her.
It was barely one step away. If she leaned her head to one side, she’d be able to catch it with her teeth.
She knew she shouldn’t. Her humans had specifically ordered her to wait in her crate until they finished eating. They would give her a table scrap. She knew they would. They always did.
So she would wait. She would obey her leader human, and follow the rules, and be rewarded. She was a good dog. She deserved her reward. She was a good dog. She…
She leaned as far as she could out of the crate, took the pork in her mouth, and swiftly brought her head back in.
Quiet. She had to be careful. She bit into the pork, and was delighted at the burst of flavor that appeared in her mouth. But she couldn’t get too excited, or the humans would notice.
She chewed softly, with her head down, as slowly as she could, savoring her ill-gotten gains. What a delight. What an excellent morsel. Truly a treat for the senses.
And then it was over, the food slowly making its way down to her belly.
She sniffed her crate for any stray droplets, and licked them up, then turned her eyes to the food below the tiny human’s chair.
Many more pieces had appeared while she ate. She focused on each of them, weighing the pros and cons.
The tomato and bread from earlier remained.
There were also cuts of pork, juicy and tender. She smelled corn, and greenbeans, and butter, probably hidden behind the chair legs. She saw mushrooms as well, but those didn’t interest her. She knew they weren’t food.
Tempted by the sight of such treasure, and the wafting aromas that accompanied it, she edged closer. She took slow, steady steps, careful not to make any sudden movements, lest she alert the humans to her approach. She advanced until she reached the first piece of pork, and gobbled it up. No time to sniff, she knew she had to be quick.
Next, the tomato. Not her favorite, but it was the closest, and she knew her time was short. She crunched into it quickly, enjoying the wet texture, and considered her next piece.
There, behind the table leg, was the buttery greenbean, as she suspected. She gingerly stepped around the leg, and bit into the bean. It popped under her teeth, and the buttery flavor really did enhance the crunch.
It was delightful.
Emboldened by her successes, she lazily strolled over to the corn. She counted at least six small pieces, and took the time to pop each one into her mouth, savoring the sweet taste.
Finally, there was the bread. She idly considered leaving it. Bread wasn’t that great, especially after the feast she had just enjoyed.
Still, food was food, and the dog wasn’t one to waste. Unlike her humans who put perfectly good meals in the garbage, she preferred to eat everything. Who knew when her next meal would come? They were so few and far between, she sometimes felt like a lifetime passed before she was fed her next one.
The leader human’s voice jolted her out of her reverie. He had just made a menacing sound.
Her eyes snapped up and locked with his. Uh oh. She was caught. She could see the anger in his gaze, as his brows furrowed together and his eyes narrowed. He didn’t show his teeth when he growled, but she knew when he was angry, despite his terrible communication.
The dog had one chance left. She saved this trick for when she was in desperate trouble, and tried not to use it unless it was absolutely necessary. Which in this case it was. She looked away from her leader human, and mustered all her energy. She took a deep breath, summoned her courage, and unleashed her ultimate strategy.
She looked straight at him, and wagged her tail.
Her leader human growled again, and stood up menacingly.
Her strategy had failed!
Knowing the end was near, the dog did the only thing she could in the time she had left: she dashed towards the last piece of bread, and gobbled the morsel as fast as she could.
The leader human grabbed her by the scruff, carried her over to her crate, and locked her in.
Feigning sadness, the dog tucked her tail between her legs, and cowered down.
The leader human stared at her for one last moment, gave her a command, and walked back to his seat.
As soon as he turned away, the dog licked her lips, satisfied with her extra meal for the night.
It was worth it.