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I still remember the first time we gave Bowpi a hunk of raw turkey neck. She sure enjoyed it, but regurgitated it 15 minutes later. Perhaps she consumed it too quickly, or was just not accustomed to digesting uncooked meat.

Dinner face I
21 January 2012

Despite this failure, we persisted with our culinary trials, since she seemed enthusiastic enough about this process of eating something that actually takes a bit of work. We refrained from giving her thicker bones and heavier cuts while she developed her chewing technique and habits. After much practice with various chicken parts, she now takes to most poultry pieces with gusto.

Dinner face II

Our delicate little Basenji flower sure can crunch a mean bone! Raw fish is another favorite. She usually rejects anything with hooves though — beef, lamb, and pork get pulled out of her bowl, plopped onto the towel, sniffed with disdain, then abandoned. Bowdu, who will eat pretty much anything, gets whatever she rejects the next day.

Dinner face III

Every now and then, her stomach gets a little unsettled, and she’ll suffer a bout of early morning nausea. She puked bile nearly every morning when she first arrived, a problem which we eventually remedied over the course of a month or so by offering a snack right before bedtime and getting her accustomed to just one kind of higher quality, grain-free kibble than what she was eating before.

Even though I don’t intend to ever bear children, I’m kind of amused that my “maternal” reflexes are such that I can snap awake even from deep slumber at the first sound of her retching and get a paper towel or something under her in time to catch her vomit before any major damage is done. I also recognize a very distinctive facial expression, which I describe as the “Lisa Simpson” look, just before she lets it all go.

Dinner face IV

There was one time I failed to catch her vomit — I haven’t been able to forget. Both Bows had just finished up a meal of a raw chicken leg quarter. This monstrous chunk, including a segment of spine, was noticeably fattier than their usual fare. I tried to hack it up a bit, but I probably overfed Bowpi that evening. And on this particular night, ‘Pi had managed to burrow her way deep under the covers so that she was trapped in the middle of the bed when I first heard her muffled horks and felt her writhing against my thigh, as her stomach pumped and revved up for launch.

This graphic has been circulating amongst my baby-bearing friends on Facebook. I can't help but see Bowpi in place of the infant.

Charlie Capen and Andy Herald, “Baby Sleep Positions” from How to Be a Dad

Before I had a chance to move the covers, our little “Snow Angel” had deposited a putrid, chunky pile of undigested carrion onto the center of the bed. Panicked and still groggy from this most unwelcome awakening, I wondered which end it came out of. I propped my hand against RJ’s back, jolting him awake, and coolly instructed him, “Something really bad just happened. DO NOT roll over, DO NOT MOVE, or it’s going to be worse.”

He laid there steeped in the miasma and paralyzed by the nightmare that he had just shit himself in his sleep, as he later confessed, while I quickly fetched some paper towels and disposed of the bulk of the mess.

So at four in the morning, we had ourselves an emergency clean-up and laundering session, then moved to the futon in my study den for the remainder of our interrupted sleep.

I’m certain that the stench of Bowpi’s vomit wouldn’t have been nearly as bad had she just eaten kibble that night. And unlike her first turkey neck, which hadn’t sat in her stomach long enough for any real digestion to occur, this one was crawling with all kinds of nasty gut flora that had, quite literally, revolted against their job.

A lesson learned: the risk of horrendously rotten vomit is certainly one drawback seldom mentioned by rave reviewers of raw feeding. I have smelled very few things as nasty as what I smelled that night… not even the corpse flower was as bad as waking up to that.