My husband and I know we shouldn't do it, but we sometimes just can't help spoiling our granddog, Winston, an English bulldog. You know the breed: stumpy legs, adorable wrinkled face and the density of a bowling ball. Because a bulldog has a propensity to become overweight, his parents have him on a Spartan vet-recommended regimen. Kibble and water, 24/7.
The little guy is a pretty frequent visitor to Camp Grammy and Grampy, given his parents' travel schedules. Our son, knowing our types, is always careful to make direct eye contact with us when he drops off Winston.
"Now you're just going to give him his kibble, no table scraps, right?" We nod earnestly. We're really going to do better this time.
"He was begging at the table after he came home last time," adds our daughter-in-law.
My husband assures them that we NEVER feed Winston at the table. He would not lie about this. It is not our fault that morsel-y bits occasionally escape our trembly 61-year-old fingers and hit the floor. Winston's jaws lock on them like an alligator on a poodle.
It's a similar problem when we're cooking in the kitchen. Winston positions himself under the cutting board lest any Unidentified Food Objects suddenly become airborne. It's amazing even to us how often they do.
We've tried to explain to Winston, however, that he has got to work on subtlety if his folks are around. We would never violate the rules to such a heinous extent as to say, give the grandpup a can of tuna. But licking out a (mostly) empty can of tuna? Surely a dog cannot live by kibble alone.
Finishing the assembly of some tuna sandwiches for lunch, I motioned to Winston to follow me into the adjacent laundry room. Winston knows the drill. I put the can silently on the ground and my finger to my lips, quietly tiptoeing out.
Moments later, the distinct sound of metal can scraping against tile floor emanates from the laundry room. It is, alas, accompanied by 80-decibel slobbering.
My daughter-in-law looks up immediately. "What's that noise?"
"Can't imagine," I said, jumping up quickly and barely snatching the can off the floor and stuffing it into the kibble bag before she appears.
She sniffs suspiciously. "Why does Winston have tuna breath?"
"Winston!" I say sternly. "What have you gotten into, you naughty dog!"
Winston, looking like the most content canine in America, emits a loud fishy belch and licks his chops. He trots off to the living room.
Some minutes later, my son, oblivious, wanders in, sandwich in hand. "Great tuna, Mom!" My daughter-in-law turns to me with a steely gaze. Winston, unused to anything even as unexotic as tuna packed in water, throws up on the carpet.
"So," I say. "Scrabble anyone?"
Look for La Jolla resident Inga's lighthearted looks at life every other week in the La Jolla Light.