28 March 2015

Goat Milk Good!

One of my goals for Belle is repeated experiences feeling safe around anything new. Since she began at the extreme of having a phobia of anything new, encouraging her to engage her seeking system and her curiosity continues to be an incremental process of teensy, tiny steps. Of course I have used her meals as one avenue of introduction. I'm sure not going to pass up something that easy!

Belle and eating go together like classic rock and air guitar. Food is this girl's number one passion. She has a breakfast dance, a dinner dance with adorably goofy grunts, and a "Hey, treats would be so amazingly fabulous right now!" bouncy dance that works on me every time. However, she has also been extremely picky and intolerant of even small changes. Has. Past tense. Belle hasn't refused a meal in quite a while.

In the beginning, I only added a few drops of a new food at a time and then it was about a teaspoon left in the bowl for her to choose to taste. Or not. Sometimes it was just an added scent. The day she tried ground venison for the first time was a day I had to hold back a laugh. She licked it in my hand, jumped back in surprise, circled round, and dove back to my hand for more. I swear her eyes bugged out. "Whoa! What was THAT deliciousness?" It happened again when I offered the warm liquid just poured off of cooked beef. As I fed her by hand, food dripped on the floor, all over me, and on her, but the mess was totally worth it. She was a full, happy girl as her whiskers glistened with beef fat in the evening sun.

Usually, a new taste sensation goes more like this. About a teaspoon of the new food item is off to the side of her regular food in her bowl. After handing her a few dollops of regular food, I grab the next dollop and brush it across the new food. She sniffs, retreats, whirls around in a couple of circles, and considers whether she'd like to continue eating. It is eating, after all. With food. Ah, food! She returns and scoops up what's in my hand. She eats the new food and the old food with perhaps a pause or two, depending on her gustatory evaluation of the new food.

Belle found cooked pumpkin sneeze-worthy, but then decided it was not that bad. She was clearly horrified by her first taste of canned salmon, so I didn't hand her a second taste. She did clean it out of her bowl, however, and has eaten salmon since then. She even eats a bit of granulated seaweed as a regular part of her breakfast now.

Her discovery of fresh goat milk was practically a blissful experience. I dredged the dollop of food in the goat milk and offered it in my palm. She stayed near my hand to take in the scent. She let it roll around in her connoisseur nose and light up her brain before snapping up the goat-coated goodness and giving a little foreleg bounce before diving in again. "Mm, tangy!" 

Belle gets a little goat milk with her meals often now, since she likes to hover near the bowl, which also happens to mean hovering over my lap. She is still nervous about even a silenced, no-flash camera phone, but she let me take the above photo for goat milk. Goat milk good

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