1. Preference to remain someplace safe — lurking in the shadows, under a bed — while the other dogs (“idiots”) chaotically dance around and drool at the ping of kibble hitting the bowl. Rationale: You can get stepped on, drooled on, or accidentally eaten when Maisy mistakes you for a bit of sausage (it could happen).
2. Include something special in the bowl — preferably on top of, not UNDERNEATH (!!) — the kibble. Sausage will do (see sausage comment, above), as will turkey, cheese, chicken, ham, or almost any kind of food preferred by the French. Foods to avoid: Eggs (blech!), lamb (not sure why, I just don’t like the idea of it, I guess), and any kind of vegetable, although clearly this should go without saying. Also, bear in mind that not all dogs like liver and other organ meats, and this includes me. I’d rather have a dry, flaky coat.
3. Kibble should measure less than one-eighth of an inch (1/8) in circumference, or slightly larger than the head of a pin. Not a pushpin, either, but a common pin.
4. Don’t even think about one of those metal bowls. If you wore a collar and your tag dinged the rim (it sounds like Notre Dame!), you’d freak out, too!
5. Please place all other dogs out of my eyesight, as prescribed: Simon behind the laundry room door, Abby behind kitchen island (far side), Maisy completely out of my space (porch or outside in the yard preferred, even in winter). Can’t stand the way they eyeball my bowl, the little Hoovers. And Maisy is just scary. Are you sure she’s a Labrador? I’m thinking wolf.
6. Place bowl at exactly the following coordinates on the runner in front of the kitchen sink: Long.:41.80926461539462; Lat.: -71.0980224609375
7. No touching or petting, please. However, some soothing words of encouragement can help aid the process. Suggested script, “Good dog, Chile!” “It’s ok, you’re a good boy!” “Come on now, little boy… you can eat now. You’re safe.” “Yum… isn’t that good? There you go!” “Yeeeeesss… there’s my little man. Good boy.”
8. Shouting things like “Fercrissake Chile! EAT!!” and “WTF is WRONG WITH YOU!! EAT!!” is not productive. Also, they are hurtful.
9. Repeat #7 for as long as necessary. We could be here a while.
10. Wait for me to be done.
11. Still waiting.
12. Number 7 again, please. And can you use a softer voice?
13. OK, it’s all good. Release the others from their designated holding positions. K, thanks! See you tonight!
* Let the record be shown that Chile prefers “complex” to “fussy,” which he terms “pejorative.”