Top-shelf chemical cocktail fuels tiny Yuki

WOOLLY RUGRAT: What  might befall a dog without yucca extract?
WOOLLY RUGRAT: What might befall a dog without yucca extract?

"A poochon is English for big money, because she is a designer dog."

"Ingredients: Chicken meal, ground corn, oat groats, brown rice, chicken fat (naturally preserved with mixed tocopherols, a source of vitamin E), dried beet pulp (sugar removed), natural chicken flavour, dried tomato pomace (natural source of lycopene) . . .

My foster mutt dines on top-shelf biscuits. 'Tis the season of dog-sitting and I have inherited my daughter's poochon, Yuki, plus her provisions.

Yuki is Japanese for "snow". "Poochon" is English for "big money" because she is a designer dog, mixing poodle and bichon frise.

Yuki resembles a miniature sheep, which should delight my border collie, but Sammie's shepherding instincts have long since slipped between the cushions of the couch that constitutes her home meadow. The closest she gets to sheep is the skin of one draped over my armchair, which she nuzzles into searching for toast crumbs, and is rarely disappointed. Both of these pampered pooches think the Call of the Wild is a pet-wear offshoot of Kathmandu. (Don't laugh - it will happen.)

" . . . Yeast culture, flaxseed (natural source of Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids), salt, potassium chloride, dicalcium phosphate, calcium propionate (natural preservative), calcium carbonate, choline chloride, yucca schidigera extract, rosemary extract . . . "

Heaven knows what pestilence might befall a dog without yucca schidigera extract in her bowl. I tried introducing more basic canine cuisine such as sardines and pasta - the well-known fortifier of wolf packs on the Amalfi Coast. It gummed Yuki up something chronic. One latex glove and a haunting procedure later, I decided to stick with her designer diet - and "having a dog's bum of a day" entered the local lexicon. Funny how I never saw that scene in Lassie.

Yuki and Sam are old puppy mates so they make a cosy pair. That said, a disturbing pack dynamic has surfaced. When one barks, the other provides harmony. When one stops to pee, the other must spray on a top coat. It's much like a change of manager in the workplace.

On a walk, they either knit their leads into macrame, or stride ahead in unison like a crack chariot team. My Chariot of Fur.

When I hooked up with a friend and her dog for coffee, the pack mentality turned ugly.

My mild-mannered hound tried to take the leg off a passing deliveryman after the other two whipped up some hysteria. It happened so fast neither owner could react.

(A seasoned mother-of-many later told me that three is the tipping point. Two kids needle each other; when the third arrives they all turn on you. As she spoke, a cloud passed before the sun.)

Yuki also has separation issues you could photograph. She howls like a banshee when left tied outside a shop.

I'm told a squirt with a water pistol will cure the problem, which would mean me strapping on a holster again and reviving the childhood quick-draw that doomed many a gunslinger in post-matinee re-enactments.

Folks used to call me Bobby the Kid. But the killing had to stop. I hung up my shooting-irons, got me a spread, married Becky, raised a couple of fine young 'uns, and learnt that you resolve disputes by constructive dialogue with all interested stakeholders.

Folks used to call me Bobby the Appeaser. That is, until the day Bad-gums Bart rode into town . . . Where was I?

According to the experts, you have to squirt the dog within two seconds of its transgression, which stacks the odds firmly in Yuki's favour. This wolf in sheep's clothing lies at my feet as I write, snoozing with her head on my slipper. If she thinks she can ingratiate herself into my affections, she is, sadly, well-informed.

". . . Blueberry, cranberry, DL-methionine, L-lysine, fructo-oligosaccharides, yeast extract, ferrous sulfate, zinc oxide, vitamin E supplement, sodium selenite, zinc proteinate, calcium ascorbate (vitamin C), iron proteinate, manganous oxide, niacin (vitamin B3), calcium pantothenate (vitamin B5), copper sulfate . . . "

Poor little beggar. She might be hyped up on all that calcium pantothenate. Expect to see her on Oprah soon confessing to taking performance-enhancing trace minerals.

I thought the dog-sitting would confine me to barracks for three weeks, yet her stay has included several jazz concerts and beach romps where I was forced to enjoy myself.

We even managed an outdoor movie with both mutts in tow. My provisions for The Secret Garden at Fairfield Park included corn chips - "made with real corn". American, of course, like the dog bikkies.

It was too dark to see if they contained manganese proteinate, because I've been feeling a bit peaky lately and the cause may be a lack of mangan.

". . . Manganese proteinate, vitamin A acetate, inositol (vitamin B8), biotin (vitamin B7), vitamin B12 supplement, riboflavin (vitamin B2), pyridoxine hydrochloride (vitamin B6), thiamine mononitrate (vitamin B1), copper proteinate, vitamin D3 supplement, calcium iodate, folic acid (vitamin B9). Made in the USA."

So, to summarise - this chemical cocktail has been shipped halfway across the world to feed a dog. I'm fine with that. Entirely appropriate use of finite resources. The woolly rugrat flies out tomorrow morning. Sleeps beside my bed - she snores like a kitten.

She isn't such a bad stick. I'll miss her.