My dog Sadie is addicted to weed. It’s gotten so bad that we’ve had to have several interventions (which, as evidenced by the fact that there have been a few, obviously means they haven’t been entirely successful). She doesn’t necessarily admit to having a problem, but then I guess that’s to be expected. When one is under the fierce grip of such an insidious vice, it can often be hard to see the forest for the trees. When I think of her addiction issues, the age-old witticism comes to mind: Denial ain’t just a river in Egypt. No, I don’t think Sadie thinks she has a problem at all – in fact, she seems to be perfectly oblivious to our concern for her well-being.
Of course, by ‘weed’, I don’t mean marijuana, but rather the clover, nutsedge and the countless other grassy weeds that seem to sprout up everywhere around this time of year. I’ve become resigned to it: my dog loves to eat grass. She is obsessed. Won’t stop chomping away whenever we’re outside. The local city government ought to be paying us for the free grazing service our dog provides every day on each walk through our local park.
Every off-leash walk in our neighborhood has become an opportunity to support her otherwise very healthy diet with a variety of the delicious grasses the Southeastern United States has to offer. She really likes the tall, wispy reeds, and has lately begun to avoid the clumpy clover-like weeds. She is now perfectly aware of our disapproval of this dietary trend, and looks at us from the corner of her beautiful brown eyes while she feasts madly, as if we hadn’t fed her in a week and a half. As we approach her to stop her from eating, the pace of her chomping speeds up in a desperate effort to get every last scrumptious morsel of green in her gut before running off to the next patch. All this excitement usually comes to an unseemly conclusion which usually results in me using my poop bag or two sticks to pull the inevitably stuck, grass-ridden poop from her behind while she looks around at me with a look that says “I kinda think I understand that you’re trying to help me here, but this is really awkward and no fun.” One thing that is fairly certain in Sadie’s case is that like most dogs, the memory span relating to her cognitive reasoning is not nearly long enough for her to understand the correlation between eating grass and having to endure another manual poo extraction exercise. So much fun.
I used to be concerned when dogs (my own or otherwise) ate grass. How many times have we all heard that dogs only eat grass if they have an upset stomach? That they’re only eating grass in an effort to make themselves throw up? I’ve had to dispel the generalizations of that myth countless times with fellow dogwalkers in the park. Inevitably, they look on sadly while my Sadie chomps away at her greenery, offering their steadfastly ominous advice about the fact that she must be unwell and casting furtive glances at me that seem to say “you obviously must not be feeding your dog a nutritious diet.”
Dogs eat grass for many reasons, only one of which is occasionally that their stomach is upset and needs emptying. Far more often, the dog simply likes the taste of grass. Occasionally, an incomplete diet can result in this craving, but more often than not the dog simply likes eating grass for the fun of it - just like Sadie.
So while I may feel that a good portion of our daily walk time is unnecessarily taken up with boring grass-eating, Sadie is happy and healthy, and that’s the most important thing. I just wish I didn’t have to deal with the grass when it comes out the other end….