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December 11, 2003: Bark and beans

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I am not usually a fan of canned vegetables, but I make the exception for green beans. I prefer them fresh, of course, but there is something almost comforting about canned green beans - the way they smell and taste. It's good that I like green beans really good. This is because one of the mainstays of lunch these days is a can of green beans. I open the can, drain the liquid, dump the beans into a container, and then at work I pop them in the microwave and eat the entire thing. One whole can of green beans, to fill me up so I'm not so hungry during the day. Oh, there's the added benefit that one can of green beans provides three servings of vegetables and we've been trying really hard to eat more fruits and vegetables anyway, but still, the whole point of the darn things is to fill me up so I am not starving again by 3pm. It doesn't always work because I think my brain is wired to be hungry every two to three hours no matter *what* I ate for the meal, but I continue to make the effort anyway.

The whole reason I am telling you about this is that every day when I take my first forkful of beans I take just a moment to pause and remember the dog.

Back when I was still going to graduate school a friend asked if I would watch her dogs while she went out of town for a few days. They had three at the time - all of them extremely large, and extremely boisterous and friendly. I have never been any kind of a dog person, preferring to watch dogs from far enough away that they cannot jump on me, stuff their noses in my crotch, or try to slime me with their tongues. I am, admittedly, a dyed-in-the-wool cat person, so three dogs was more than a bit overwhelming. But she had no one else, and so I agreed. It wasn't too much work - I just had to swing by the house twice a day to let them out to the backyard to run around and such, and give them their food and water.

It was the food part that sticks with me the most about this whole experience. One of the dogs - the largest one - had hip dysplasia and so was on a diet. To keep him from being too hungry while getting such a small amount of food, they were feeding him a can of green beans with each meal. It would never have occurred to me to feed green beans to a dog, but he adored them, and would inhale them out of the bowl within seconds of me dumping in the can.

I cannot help but think of that dog every time I sit at my desk and eat my daily can of green beans.

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