Dogged. Hounded. Now it is crystal clear to me where these words come from. Definition from Merriam-Webster online: to chase or bother (someone or something) in a constant or determined way. Janie the Black Lab has raised hounding to an art. On most days at least ½ hour before mealtime, she starts to follow me around, to stand and stare at me and sometimes even bark at me because, in her estimation, it is time to eat.
I am impressed by her ability—or her stomach’s ability—to tell time. The problem is that 4:30 is the new 5:00. It seems that her internal clock has a slow creep backwards. First she starts 10 minutes before mealtime, then it’s 20 minutes prior and then somehow she’s dogging me half an hour beforehand. Probably doesn’t help the “creep” that I do sometimes give in and feed her a bit early, just to get her to leave me alone.
It’s shocking, her power to change my behavior. Once she starts bugging me, I start avoiding the kitchen. I avoid getting out of my chair because every time I move, she takes it as a sign that I am going to feed her. If I move, she runs toward her bowl, doing what I’ve come to know as the Popcorn Jump. She pops up and down with her front feet. She only gets her feet an inch or two off of the ground but does her little hops in rapid succession. I’m not sure if it’s funny or sad that this has come to be the greatest excitement in her day, every mealtime, every day. At least she still has that large joy. Recently she’s developed neurological problems that affect her gait so only the shortest walks are possible. She’s never played with toys much and the retriever part of her is broken because she has never retrieved. But, oh, can she eat—with joy and gusto!