Yesterday I took Wotan with me because he enjoys riding in the car and he especially loves shopping with me, sniffing everything in the stores, from the products to the customers. I figured we’d both have a good time wandering the aisles of Petco but I had no idea of what was in store for me on this trip.

First we went to Lowes and shopped for a new bathroom faucet and some tile for the patio. Wotan had to approve my choice of faucet as if he were the one footing the bill. I next checked out a few different patterns and colors in patio tile and thought I had decided on the right one. I was holding it up to the light to look at the grain and texture of the tile when Wotan rammed me hard in my left leg, forcing me to grab the cart handle to keep from losing my balance. I looked at him and said “What the heck do you think you’re doing?”. He gave me a weird, cockeyed look, then stared at the tile I was holding.

“Don’t you like my choice?”, I asked (as if I was going to let him make the decision!). He turned away from me and started walking away down the aisle.

The audacity of that dog!

I yelled sharply at him and he made a U-turn and came back. So I picked up another tile I had been considering and held it up to him. Trying to be funny I said, “You like this one better?” He let out a very loud, shrill bark which caused a few customers to look askance at me like I was mistreating my dog or I had stepped on his tail.

I wondered if maybe Wotan saw something that I didn’t and by some long, long shot, he was better at picking out tiles than I was. Upon closer examination I noticed that the first tile had uneven edges that would have made the grout lines too large for my taste. The other tile, a deeper tan with subtle highlights, the one Wotan seemed to like better, had good straight edges and also had a nice luster to it that was noticeable only when you looked at it from an angle. I hated to give him credit for something as crazy as knowing which tile was better, but I said, “OK, you win. I’ll buy this tile instead”.

I loaded 4 packages into my cart and after I put the last one in, Wotan started licking my hand furiously. Apparently he was pleased that I had taken his advice after all.

Then we were off to Petco to buy him some dry food which he is very fond of. Practically anything that can be called ‘food’ he is fond of. He has one of the most voracious appetites of any Golden Retriever I’ve ever met. Many of my friends have or have had Golden Retrievers, and all loved their dogs dearly, but everyone agrees that mine has an appetite that is seemingly so insatiable that I should invest in the dog food manufacturer’s stock.

With the amount of food he eats I would expect him to be one big fat Golden Retriever, but instead he’s a svelte 85 pounds which his vet says is perfect for his large body build. He has no tapeworms or other medical conditions to account for no weight gain from his sometimes considerable food intake. He gets a moderate amount of exercise now that his hip dysplasia is so much better after several months treatment with Winston’s Joint System.

There was a time when I was afraid he might never walk again, and short of putting his rear legs in some kind of cart or wheelchair and push him around everywhere he needed to go, I was at a dead end knowing what to do with him because his vet didn’t recommend surgery at his ripe old age of 12; and prescription medications didn’t help him at all. Then I discovered Winston’s Joint System and got Wotan started on a fast track to better joint health. We’re both much happier now.

When we arrived at Petco, you’d think I had just laid down a nice prime rib steak in front of him and said “Go for it!”. He was salivating and drooling before we even stepped inside the doors. I grabbed a cart and we started down the first aisle which was filled with enough variety of treats to please even the most persnickety dog. I bought a few packages of different brands, always being sure to get his approval, because even though he’ll eat practically anything that’s food, he still wants to put in his two bones worth of advice to be sure that I am buying only his favorites.

When we rounded the corner of the dry dog food aisle, Wotan ran ahead to the very end and looked back at me as if to say, “What are you waiting for, slow-poke?”. I stood my ground against his bullying and started checking out the ingredients on a couple packages on the shelf. Since this was one of the brands he normally ate, there was no reason for me to follow him down the aisle at this point. I was being a model dog owner, carefully reading the package label to be sure something I didn’t approve of hadn’t been slipped into the ingredient list since my last purchase.

I became aware of a faint rumbling noise nearby and assumed one of the employees was cleaning up after a dog food bag had spilled on the floor. Not an uncommon occurrence in any pet food store. Then out of the corner of my eye I spotted Wotan woofing down some dry dog food that had spilled out of a broken bag on the lower shelf. He sounded like a wind tunnel vacuum cleaner as he was slurping up the kibbles as fast as they poured from the bag. I ran down the aisle and grabbed him by the collar, and had to use all my strength to pull him away from the bag. I swear his tongue grew about a foot longer as he sucked up the tasty morsels still pouring freely from the bag. I yanked him back and scolded him because it was obvious from the jagged tear on the dog food bag that he had been helping the kibble escape the confines of the bag.

After loading two bags of his favorite food into the cart I proceeded to the checkout, Wotan following dutifully behind me. Two people were in front of me at the checkout so I busied myself by scanning through the latest dog magazines on display. Then I heard a blood curdling scream and turned to see a woman with a small white poodle looking aghast at Wotan who had torn open two huge bags of kibble at the end of the aisle and was furiously chomping down on the contents.

I took off like a bat out of you-know-where and grabbed Wotan, yanking him up and away from his smorgasbord. The manager came running over and I apologized profusely, offering to pay for all the damage. He took one look at Wotan and said, “No bother. I used to have a beauty just like him. They sure love to eat don’t they.” I was mortally embarrassed over Wotan’s sudden shameless behavior and again offered to pay. The manager insisted that no harm was done (except to my dog training skills which now seemed to be very much in question) so I dragged Wotan to the checkout and the cashier rang up my purchase.

Wotan was very reluctant to leave those beautiful tasty morsels of kibble just lying there on the floor and kept looking back at them, then at me, as if I were really stupid to be leaving something so good just sitting there on the floor waiting for him.

After loading the bags into the trunk and putting Wotan in the back seat, I looked back inside the store and saw one of the employees cleaning up the mess and the manager pointing out the window at me. I skulked into the car, started the engine, and hurriedly drove away. I told Wotan that this was the last time he gets to go to Petco with me. At least until I relent and change my mind. He knows I’m just a softy at heart.

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