Our dog is a food whore. I’ve already written about that fact at length in previous blog posts. We’ve worked with her enough that she will pretty much leave Steven and I alone while we eat. She knows we mean business. She might give an interested sniff or two in the direction of our plates, but will then find a spot on the floor and lie down and leave us alone for the duration of our meal.

We know our limits though–we can never leave our plates unattended, and we have to be mindful of how close we leave any food items to the edge of the counter. Even when she has reached the limit of how far she can stretch her short half-Basset legs, Electra’s tongue gives her at least another six inches of reach. I found this out the hard way the day I baked a devil’s food chocolate cake with homemade peanut butter frosting. Even with the pan sitting several inches from the edge of our kitchen island, Electra managed to maneuver her anteater-like tongue to lick an entire corner of the cake clean.

We knew that Electra’s food mongering would eventually return once Cadence was old enough to eat people food. Cadence is a much less formidable opponent, and when it comes to food, Electra just has a hard time controlling herself.

Like most first-time parents, we wanted to capture the first day we fed Cadence soupy rice cereal on video when she was 6 months old. We got a few good minutes of Cadence making a sour puss face before Electra stole the show by rearing up on her hind legs and sticking her face into the cereal bowl. It has all been downhill from there.

Electra is front and center for every single one of Cadence’s meals and snacks, reporting for duty as quickly as a boot camp soldier. As soon as Cadence mastered feeding herself finger foods, she realized how entertaining it could be to dangle bits over the side and watch Electra’s reaction. Sometimes Cadence will simple drop the bits and laugh as Electra pounces on them. Other times, she will hold them up high, just out of reach. The worst though is when she clutches them tightly in her fingers while Electra gives them a half-dozen slobbery licks, then pulls her hand back and pops the soggy bits of food into her own mouth with a flourish. As if pushed over the edge by the teasing, Electra will suddenly rear up, plant her front paws on the high chair tray and inhale as much of the remaining food as she can before either Steven or I can push her away.

Our only solution was to banish Electra during mealtimes until both she and Cadence can learn to control themselves. Electra retreats to her kennel willingly enough with the promise of a cookie or a rawhide chew. She will sit and watch us eating for several minutes, and then eventually lie down and wait for us to finish. She doesn’t exactly wait patiently. Even though she often turns her back to us, she will groan and moan and sigh loudly every few moments, as if to remind us that she’s there. In response, Cadence will throw a few bits of food on the floor, as if to make sure Electra has a treat waiting for her upon her release.

Maybe, just maybe, one of these days, Electra won’t have to spend family mealtimes behind bars. Until that day comes, she must continue to go directly to jail. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200.

Today’s 365 Project entry is dedicated to our favorite jailbird.

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