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Julie M. Mataway

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The Food Chain
By Julie M. Mataway
Saturday, December 05, 2009

Rated "G" by the Author.

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A short tale (tail) of life with kids & pets as rendered by a mom in Phoenix while the weather warmed last summer. Ok, it got stinking hot.

The Food Chain

This time of year always brings out the worst in my dog Molly. It starts in early spring and goes until it gets cold again. No, it's not her behavior, being half Lab and and half Golden Retriever; she is mellow, meek and very lovable.  You couldn't ask for a better family dog. No, it's not what she does, it's what she loses. Hair. She sheds like a maple tree in the fall. It comes out in clumps. When I brush her outside, it rains fur. Inside, she leaves a very discerbable trail from room to room. When I get home and find the trash can tipped over and shout, "MOLL-EEE!", she can go right ahead and proclaim her innocence from the other room with those big brown eyes and the "thump, thump, thump" of her hairy matted tail. But the evidence is clear. Little blonde clumps of hair lead right into the kitchen and the sprawling garbage all over the floor. So, before my couch gets completely reupholstered against my will, I realize it is time to take action.

This brings me to my experience at my local Pet Supply Warehouse yesterday. I'm studying the whole aisle of dog grooming products trying to figure out which one would work best without breaking the bank (you can buy the "Furminator" for a mere $50 which appears to be the size and composition of a disposable razor) and pretty much getting nowere. Ah! Along comes store help. Yay! So, I explain what I need and what I need it for. Instead of answering my questions or showing me how the shedding tools work, she goes into a long presentation about the right nutrition for my dog. I need to buy "Yoo-kuh-noo-buh" (spelled phonetically) she tells me emphatically, which is all fish and supplies the best diet to control excessive shedding. She goes on and on like a stellar sales rep about macro-biotics and liver health while I stand there with a dog comb in my hand. My mind starts to wander. "Lady", I'm thinking to myself, "you don't understand the food chain at my house." Sure, I buy dog food. Lots of dog food. You, see, I have a menagerie at home. In addition to the dog, we have three grown cats, four kittens (ready go go, by the way, if anybody wants one), thirteen hens, one obnoxious rooster, four baby chicks and one baby duck. I don't know if this lifestyle is the result of a repressed farmer's wife coming out in me or the consequence of not having a husband to tell me "no".  I figure, as long as I have kids, I'll have pets; so I can put up with the mayhem a few more years. I know a major empty nest syndrome looms around the corner. Besides, I love fresh eggs. I get the biggest kick out of giving them away.

But, lets get back to the food chain. Here's how it works around here: The dog eats the cat food, the chickens eat the dog food, the birds eat the chicken food. The coyotes eat the chickens when they get the chance.... The cat eats the kitten food and the kittens eat the cat food. In the house, the only animals who eat their own food are my son's fish - though they have been known to eat each other. The humans don't do much better; the teenage girl won't eat meat or much of anything, the teenage boy won't stop eating. The chick and the ducks have their own separate foods. Good luck with that one, I tell myself.

So, while the Pet-Warehouse lady expounds on the wonders of the ridiculously expensive dog food, I'm wondering if my chickens will be impressed that they're eating the best dog food there is laced with fish microbes or whatever. I just don't think they'll care.

Meanwhile, Molly is off to the groomer this morning with my ex. I was just thinking how since we've been divorced how clean the inside of his van has been. It may come back looking like a blonde exploded in it.

Oh, good grief. I just figured out why Molly eats chicken poop. It's her food. Recycled. Ugh. This farm life is obviously not for the weak of stomach.




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