Chocolate is a food group which a lot of people can't do without. Unfortunately, it's got questionable nutritional value and often when some article entitled "The Benefits of Chocolate" or whatever is published referencing studies about how cocoa invigorates one's hypothalamus or how the colour brown enlightens one's chakras, I can't help but wonder who funds those studies and also why even bother? People don't need a valid reason to eat chocolate. That might just take the fun out of it.
In the same way, Stella doesn't need nor care for a reason to eat goose poo. In this fall season, it's easily accessible enough. Every day now, Canadian geese take their vengeance upon us humans for destroying all their wetlands by shitting on almost every untrafficked patch of cleared land near a body of water. For us, that would be the CNE grounds down by the lake shore where I take Stella most mornings.
When I first got Stella years ago and was yet unaccustomed to her ways, I used to see her loping across the grassy expanses with her head hung low and her mouth open. I thought she was licking the dew off the grass which seemed oddly resourceful for a city dog like Stella. Of course upon closer inspection, I realized she was imitating a whale harvesting krill only it wasn't seafood she was filtering through her mouth, it was goose poo - which, come to think of it, maybe could be considered seafood, just overly processed, since geese do get a good portion of their food from aquatic sources.
After that eye-opening discovery of my dog's dietary quirk, there were some stern words uttered and Stella soon realized that I did not approve. Sure, it's a disgusting snack in the form of speckled green tube food but I was also worried about giardia.
These days, when goose poo season first arrives, Stella still can't help herself and she always tries to sample the new vintage. She no longer does the whale thing, that being too obvious, but instead she tries to be sneaky about it. She starts by giving me her sideways glance to see if I'm looking - which I usually am but that doesn't really stop her from moving forward with her surreptitious plan. She then slunkers down a bit and trots nonchalantly away from me, all the while looking back at me to make sure I'm not going to chase her down or anything. When she reaches the morsel, she doesn't grab it up right away but instead pretends to be just sniffing the spot, like any other spot, no big deal, nothing to see here. She's still got her eye on me this whole time and then if she thinks I'm not looking, she quickly laps up the pungent delicacy and then it's chomp chomp swallow.
Now you'd think with my human brain, it wouldn't be such a big deal see through Stella's illicit behaviour and stop her before she gets to her goal, and I usually do, but I have to admit that she still manages to slurp one back every now and again.
This morning was one of those times and then after we went through the usual ritual of me berating her and her pretending to be sorry for what she just did, we continued along on our walk through the park.
People don't often approach us on our walks but this morning a man came over and asked me about my dogs (Rocky was with us as well). It turned out he was visiting from the States and wanted to come over and say hi since he was missing his own dogs.
"Is she friendly?" he asked, indicating Stella.
"Er, well, sometimes she takes a while to warm up to people she doesn't know," I replied because Stella doesn't usually like it much when strangers, especially male strangers, approach with too much enthusiasm. This morning, though, maybe because she was still all aglow from her goose poop snack or maybe because she just wanted to prove me wrong, she sidled up to the man.
He responded by stroking her back. Stella leaned into him, as Danes will do, having decided she liked the man's affections. The man made some cooing noise and started scratching her neck. Stella turned her head upwards and stared lovingly up into the man's face.
At this point, I knew she was up to something and what she was up to was no good. She was going to try for the prize, the prize being her tongue in someone's mouth. I used to think this behaviour was a remnant from from wolf cub instincts where a cub would make his mother regurgitate food by agitating the inside of her mouth. Now, I think Stella is just a sleazy old broad who likes to French kiss.
"Um, you might want to back off a bit," I said to the man whose face was inching closer to Stella's. "She's going to try to lick you." Sounded better than "She's going to try to tongue you."
"That's okay, I've got a couple big dogs at home. I'm used to it," he said.
"Yeah, but Stella just ate ..." I hurried to say but stopped.
It was like a car accident where everything seems to go into slo-mo. Stella was looking up at the stranger, batting her eyes at him, enticing him closer. Stranger was enchanted, lowered his face ever closer to hers. He opened his mouth just about to whisper some sweet nothing and Stella, like a frog catching a fly, flicked out her tongue and planted one well inside his mouth.
"Whoa, don't I get a dinner first?" he tried to joke but that only gave Stella more opportunity to strike. And she did.
"Sorry about that," I said. "She can be very forward."
"Ah, that's okay," but he'd had enough and he straightened up out of her reach. As I called Stella back over, the man make a smacking sound with his mouth.
"What'd she have for breakfast?" he asked, uncertain, ready to be horrified.
"That's probably the kelp flakes you're tasting," I said. I didn't want to ruin his day.