Dogfood as Participatory Art

One of the pleasures that my dogs, Dexter and Comet, share with me, is eating. It is one reason that neither my wife nor I are ever unaccompanied when we are in the kitchen preparing our morning coffee, fixing breakfast or making our meals. First thing in the morning, each dog files out behind my wife as she heads to the kitchen expecting to receive their “morning biscuit”. When she spoons out a little tuna for the cat who appears in the garage at mealtimes, Dexter whines irritated that her food is not shared with him. Last week, when Comet was prescribed a allergy pill morning and evenings, Sheri first wrapped it in a bit of peanut butter and lunchmeat. Glued to her every move, Dexter eagerly expected the same treat (less the allergy medicine).

When researching a few ideas for today’s post, I was thinking how the pandemic had inspired many to spend more time in the kitchen. Whether working from home or having few places to socialized for many months, many turned to baking and cooking. I chuckled that my watching so much food television had inspired me to participate in what seemed the new social outlet. For those who had searched for bread flour or yeast without success all across America in mid-2020, you knew that the quarantined were busy creating. Ironically, my amusement searching for a name for this national craze, actually seems to have been coined already! Inspired to try baking after studying the MasterClass episodes, The Chef Show, Nadiya Time to Eat or the Great British Bake-Off via Netflix or YouTube, “participatory” art became real.

With so much going on in our kitchen, I have had an audience often from two canines waiting to see if any tasty bits end up in their dog bowls. And generally, we will add a little something leftover from a meal to their dog chow. But I drew the line at preparing anything especially for my two. I make sure what I buy them in pet food is particularly nutritious and appropriate for them. However, I found it interesting among several celebrity chefs, at least one in particular, Rachel Ray, has a line of culinary pet food! While that may be a natural consequence of being a chef, I feel some retail dog chow – protein formulated for canines – is tasty enough for my budget.

But participatory art is not just me preparing food I have seen online and is not necessarily a human expression. On walks some days Dexter relishes finding coyote scat. When not furtively tasting it, tries to mark his appreciation on a bush or rock. Both dogs are artists in their own right.

While a few celebrity chefs, restauranteurs, or bloggers might take exception to my controversial label appropriation for their medium, plagiarism is the sincerest form of flattery.   If interested, read here to learn more about Participatory Art. 

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