Blame it all on genetics

Oscar, our 9 year old rescue Labrador, is true to breed in that he has no moral compass when it comes to food. He will shovel anything into his system in the absence of any conscience or vestige of remorse.

Picture the scene: a couple of weeks before Christmas and I had bought a 5kg smoked gammon. I boiled it for hours, carefully peeled off the skin, scored the diamond shapes into the remaining layer of fat and studded it with cloves before coating it with a glorious amber marmalade glaze. Back into the oven it went and I lovingly basted the glaze every half hour as this masterpiece browned in the slow heat. Out of the oven it was perfection and I covered it with foil before pushing it deep into the kitchen counter away from any marauding dog. In the knowledge that it was safe, I happily went out to see to the sheep.

Two hours later I returned to the kitchen to a sight that I cannot describe without a headache beginning to throb in my temples. Oscar had got the gammon and my shepherding routine had given him an ample window of opportunity to do his Labrador worst. I found him chasing the remaining bone around the kitchen floor even though he was bloated and clearly feeling ill. It took me about 3 hours to clean the floor, because not only was it layered with fat, it was also sticky from glaze. Imagine a sticky ice rink and you are pretty much there.

Oscar drank a lot of water and didn’t eat for days. He also had difficulty making eye contact with me. Curious I turned to Google, the font of all knowledge, and read an article about the origin of Oscar’s ancestors and it all began to make sense. The breed came from Labrador in Canada where they were working dogs, helping the fishermen bring in laden nets. Constantly in and out of icy water, their metabolisms must have been permanently in overdrive. Ergo they were constantly hungry and therefore wolfed down food whenever they came by it. This trait has been programmed into the Labrador genes, even though my Oscar is thousands of miles away from any icy Canadian water and fishing nets.

Does this exonerate him? Perhaps, and of course he is always forgiven an unfortunate food incident, of which there have been many since the gammon episode and no doubt there will be many more to come.

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