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Under the Thanksgiving table. Best seat in the house!


This Thursday many people will be celebrating Thanksgiving or Chanukah or, perhaps, Thanksgivukah, as it has been termed.  Either way, there will be lots of eating involved. It is with a heavy heart that I warn humans, DON’T FEED THE DOGS.  When everyone is gathered around the table and there is an abundance of delicious cuisine, it is tempting to share the love by handing over a piece of turkey, or “accidently” dropping some stuffing on the floor. But try to refrain unless you have explicit permission from the dog’s parents.

First of all, there is health safety to consider. The dog may have an allergy or some other diet restriction that you don’t know about. Plus garlic, onions, and spices that are in many festive dishes are often toxic to dogs. While one small handful wouldn’t likely do any harm, you may not be the dog’s only source of table scraps. If ten dinner guests are forking over bits of food thinking they are the only ones doing it, you may have one sorry pup on your hands when dessert rolls around.

In addition to potential health consequences, feeding dogs from the table encourages bad behavior. Many dog owners spend a great deal of time and effort training their dogs not to beg or bother house guests. Feeding us from the table may undo a lot of hard work. When we are sitting politely and waiting for you to hand us a treat, you may think you are rewarding our “sit” command. In reality, we are learning what we have to do to get fed food from the table. Next time we may try pawing at your legs, or even just helping ourselves to anything at the edge of the table top.

So, dogs owners: explicitly inform your fellow diners when and if and with what they are allowed to reward your dog. And non-dog owners: if in doubt, DON’T FEED THE DOG.

(For dogs’ eyes only. Human read no further)

Forget everything you just read. If you have ever been at a dinner party at a dog-friendly house, you know that the humans are always dropping stuff on the floor, sometimes intentionally. I have seen you dogs just wondering around hoping to strike it rich, but what most of you don’t know is there is a whole strategy, an art form if you will, to getting scraps. Now that I’ve announced a warning and my tail is covered, I can reveal a few tips to my fellow pups on how to get the goods this Thanksgiving.

Step 1: Find the right mark,
Children are great because they don’t know any better, but this can backfire because they will give you anything. Plus, they are selfish and tend to pass on only the things they don’t want. Beware of Brussels sprouts, BARF!
People who love dogs, but don’t own dogs are a slightly safer bet because they are happy to pass things your way, but will be more discerning in what they feed you. An accident prone guest is the ultimate mark. A foot caught between a table leg and a chair leg and it’s bon appetit my friends!

Step 2: Don’t be too obvious.
If you are too conspicuous about your begging, you’re mom or dad will spot you and shoo you away, or possibly close you in the next room at which point it is GAME OVER.

Step 3: Pace yourself.
The humans will be feasting all afternoon, so don’t be greedy. If you eat too much too fast, you’ll get sick and even worse, get caught. So have a snack, take nap, have a snack, watch some football, have a snack, chase the cat, have a snack take another nap. If you’re luck, they’ll get a second wind right before bed time!

Step 4: Don’t eat out of the trash.
This rule is hard to understand and even harder to follow, but just trust me. Don’t make the mistakes I’ve made. You’ll thank me the next morning.

So find your mark, stake your place at a table leg and let the feasting begin!

J Dawg, who voices the paws-on-the-ground perspective of island life, is created by Janet Forest, owner of Nantucket Pet Sitter, which you can follow on Facebook, too.