The other night I watched a TV commercial about dog food, and it made me hungry.
An attractive young lady explained why she settles for "nothing but the very best" for her pooch, as she served him a seven-course meal, complete with wine list and dessert tray.
OK, I made up the wine list, but the meal she prepared for Fido looked better than anything I've eaten since grandma's Thanksgiving dinner. It involved a succulent fillet, wrapped around a "nutritious inner layer" of salmon and chicken, all smothered in creamy sauce.
Just looking at it whetted my appetite, so I went to the fridge and made a baloney sandwich.
I'll bet the TV Fido would turn up his nose at baloney.
Cat cuisine has become even crazier. There's one brand of gourmet cat food that's so fancy it's served only at 5-star restaurants, with advance dinner reservations required.
You've seen the ad:
A garcon wearing a tux serves Kitty Caviar to a finicky feline. Candlelight sparkles off silver trays as violinists play softly in the background. When the waiter brings the entree -- mesquite-smoked Arctic grayling -- Snowball sniffs it, turns up her nose and orders it taken away. She ordered MEDIUM rare.
(Since this column is supposed to be light-hearted, I won't dwell on the current hunger rate in the U.S., and the number of children who go to bed hungry while dogs and cats are wolfing down expensive gourmet meals. I'll just say it's shameful, and leave it at that.)
We've always had pets at our house, but we have a strict rule: they don't eat better than we do. In fact, they generally eat whatever we eat, in the form of leftovers.
We once had a battle-scarred old tomcat named Tom who made it a point of pride to catch his own chow. He'd go hunting in the woods behind the house and come home with a succulent chip-a-la-monk or tasty mouse-mousse.
We supplemented Tom's all-natural diet with an occasional can of commercial cat food, something cheap that looked like ground gopher, only didn't smell as good.
Tom would consent to take a few bites, so as not to hurt our feelings, then go off to catch himself a decent meal out by the woodpile.
If a snooty waiter had shoved a can of Kitty Caviar under Tom's nose, he'd have bit him.
Our old dog Barf fared equally well on simple fare, mostly table scraps and anything accidentally dropped on the floor.
They say never feed a dog chicken bones; Barf ate chicken bones practically every day his life and lived to be 176 in dog years.
As with Tom, we supplemented Barf's diet of leftovers with an occasional bowl of dry dog food -- the kind that comes in 50-pound bags and looks like gravel, only harder. You can bet your Kibbles it wasn't served smothered in warm, creamy gravy.
Our pets have always been healthy and happy. They don't go into a snit, like their spoiled cousins on TV, if they aren't served fillet mignon and charred salmon with avocado remoulade for supper.
Watching those pampered pets reminds me of my fishing buddy Al, who once complained about the high price of dog food. Another buddy, Herb, advised him to feed his dog turnip greens, as he did his.
"I don't think my dog will eat turnip greens," said Al.
"Neither would mine," said Herb, "the first three weeks."