I’m being a curmudgeon today.
Dictionary.com gives the following as one definition of decadence: “unrestrained or excessive self-indulgence.” I bring this up because periodically things emerge in popular culture that scream, “Decadent! We’re decadent! Look!”
One of these is gourmet dog food.
I mean, I get that our relationships with our dogs are already seriously out of control. We breed them down to tiny sizes so they could be fashion accessories. We dress them up in human clothes. We feed them human food from human utensils and wonder why canines are getting the same kind of systemic diseases humans get, like diabetes and liver problems.
But now we have gourmet dogfood.
For a while we’ve had a brand of catfood that advertises as if it’s gourmet; the spokes-cat is a white longhair with a pushed-in face, lounging on designer furniture, and the food is served in a crystal parfait dish, but it’s still just catfood. That’s an ad.
There’s a specialty dogfood out with Rachel Ray’s name on it, as if she somehow “designed” it. And today I saw another ad for “Chef Michael’s Dog Food.” Gourmet dog food. Next there will be a reality show on the Food Network; America’s Next Doggie Gourmet.
I don’t have a problem with designer dog food like Beneful, IAMS or Science Diet. We have corrupted dogs’ natural digestive systems so badly with our desire to make them just like us that those are probably necessary. They may be “veterinarian designed,” but they aren’t “culinary-academy chef designed.”
Our dogs at home ate canned food, usually a midrange brand, not necessarily the cheapest. Sometimes they got table scraps added to the bowl. They were never fed from the table. Sometimes they would get a treat when they were hanging out with us in the backyard. Our German Shepherd lived to be nine, and Matilda, my parents’ Aussie shepherd, was eleven when she died. These dogs didn’t need a fancy kind of food to know they were loved. Their humans walked with them, threw the stick for them, and in Matilda’s case, let her herd us like the sheep we probably were to her. Up in canine heaven, do those two dogs weep because no one ever gave them Rachel Ray dogfood? I have no way of knowing for sure, but somehow, I doubt it.