The Effects of Scarcity

On Monday I wrote about change. But as it turns out, I’m not the only one in my household who has undergone a lot of changes this past year. My dog, Hannah, has gone through a tremendous amount of change over the past 9 months. In April, we had to let go of her protector and companion, Poodle. Shortly after, Hannah began spending time with me at the boyfriend’s place. For an emotionally unstable dog (she’s a rescue from a puppy mill), I thought the change would be disastrous. After all, this was a dog who rarely left the closet without Poodle standing guard.

Turns out, I was wrong. Hannah LOVES being at the boyfriend’s place. Actually, she throws a little tantrum when we go home, which is something she had never done before. She runs around now, plays, and has no problem being carried around now. All new things for her. She’s like a totally different dog now. An excited dog. A happy dog.

But happiness hasn’t been Hannah’s only emotion. I’ve talked previous about the food situation. I always used a “free feed” system with Hannah and Poodle; the bowl of dry food was always available and full. Poodle did have a tendency to overeat, but Hannah was always underweight. I’ll admit, I’m bad about giving “people food”. Poodle would eat anything and everything. Hannah would only eat what she liked. She was always one to hold out for something better.

After Poodle died, Hannah became uninterested in dry food. So, we started supplementing with wet food. It started with once a day. But then it became apparent that she wasn’t eating any of the dry food, and I started to worry about her eating enough. So, I bumped it up to feeding her wet food twice a day. I was following guidelines on how much to feed her, but she wasn’t always eating it all. And the boyfriend felt it was an excessive amount of food for such a small dog. So, he started taking over more of the feeding, and cutting back the portions. And the results have been, well, entertaining.

Smaller portion sizes seem to have convinced Hannah that food is scarce. She now eats all of her food, at every meal. But she’s not comfortable with that empty plate. She’s convinced she’s hungry, all the time. It didn’t take her long to figure out how to charm the boyfriend into more food. So, instead of eating twice a day, she’s now eating 3-4 times a day. Plus snacks, for when she’s convinced she’s hungry, but it’s too close to her meal time. Cutting back on her food portions means she’s now eating more food. The boyfriend is happy that he’s cutting back on her portions. Hannah is happy that she gets to eat whenever she wants. And I’m happy that she’s finally eating more. Win-win-win!

But Hannah’s reaction to perceived scarcity has me thinking about my reactions to scarcity in my own life. Like when I try to cut carbs from my diet, and find myself bingeing on pasta and bread. Or when I try to overly restrict my spending, only to find myself spending ridiculous amounts of money on stupid things. When I tell myself I can’t have any pasta, I end up eating more pasta than I would normally eat.

Right now, I think I have balance. But for me, balance is something that is always changing. I’m continually making changes in my life, big and small. If my life is changing, I need to pay attention to how those changes are affecting the whole picture, and adjust accordingly.

It’s humbling to realize how much like my dog I really am. But watching her reminds me that I should avoid going to extremes in my own life. Everything in moderation.

– Cindy W.

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