THE Fourth of July is not just the USA's Independence Day, it is also the date of the annual Hot Dog Eating Contest held in Brooklyn, New York.
This year a human oesophagus by the name of Joey Chestnut equalled his own record of 68 hot-dogs in 10 minutes.
My doberman Louie could do that in his sleep, and that is without the benefit of hands to shovel the food in.
In fact, I wouldn't mind a dollar for every time someone has introduced their dog as "his name is X but we should have called him Hoover because of the way he 'inhales' his food".
I reckon if people named their dogs when they were older, there would be many called Hoover, Dyson and Nilfisk. (I'd like to meet a dog called Nilfisk!)
Not all dogs exhibit speed-feeding behaviour, but it is so common that you have to wonder whether there is an evolutionary basis to it, and indeed there is.
The dog's wolf ancestors were pack hunting animals which had to develop the ability to gulp down large amounts quickly.
This was because feeding was both competitive and hierarchical with the alpha male getting first go.
Also, prey animals were relatively large.
Among the many and various dog breeds there is variety in feeding behaviours and tendencies but many, like Louie, show the wolf's gluttonous habit.
Recently I realized that I couldn't bear to watch Louie's frenzied gulping technique any longer - I must be glutton-intolerant.
So I bought him a maze food bowl to force him to slow down a bit. This consists of a moulded circular grooved maze of smooth slippery plastic.
The grooves are narrower than the width of his tongue which means he has to use some pretty tricky tongue-gymnastics to transfer the food from bowl to belly.
Watching him apply himself to the task at hand made for great entertainment.
It takes him at least four times as long to eat his meal.
If your dog has the table-manners of a great white shark, consider a maze feeding bowl.
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