Recently, Griff II, Drake University’s bulldog mascot was hospitalized with a digestive illness brought on by eating –get this—too many tomatoes. Thankfully, Griff has made a full recovery. And thankfully, well-wishers have been spared the graphic details of Griff’s gastrointestinal distress. But you can imagine. This does raise a couple of questions. First, how many tomatoes is too many for a 50-pound English bulldog? And, who feeds their dog tomatoes?
Dogs are not vegetarians and they are not people. But people, by our nature, are generous. Or at least, curious. Will a mouse eat a piece of a Hostess Twinkie? (Yes, mice will eat anything no matter how nasty or indigestible except white bread which they do not recognize as food.) Signs in Yellowstone Park warn campers, do not feed the bears. Why not? Because, first of all, the junk that people eat is probably not good for bears and, perhaps more importantly, if an 800-pound bear decides he loves the taste of Captain Crunch and you only had the one box, you may be next on his menu.
Iowa City has almost as many deer as it has people. They look so cute and gentle and the urge to feed them is nearly irresistible. But every year, we hear about some kindly animal lover who was stomped into the snow by a deer, having failed to fulfill the deer’s dietary expectations. The Department of Natural Resources advises us to not feed coyotes. We think if we feed coyotes some cat food, they will like us and be less inclined to eat our cat. Wrong. Feeding coyotes apparently makes them aggressive. They will eat your cat food and your cat and bite you too if they get the chance. (What part of “wild animal” don’t we understand?)
Feeding bread to ducks only fills their stomachs with empty calories and can cause them to literally starve to death. The way birds devour seed in bird feeders, you’d think they would grow dependent on the dole and never fend for themselves again. But as soon as the snow melts, the birds leave the feeders alone and prefer to do their own hunting.
Some people think it’s funny to give their cat milk, mixed with vodka and watch it stagger around. Alcohol is poisonous for animals (and isn’t so great for humans either). I don’t know why anybody would feed horses or donkey avocados but if they did, it could make them very ill. Avocados are also deadly for birds and rabbits. Citrus like oranges or lemons is not good for animals. However, I once had a groundhog tunnel up through my kitchen floor just so it could eat my grapefruit rinds. That didn’t seem to make him ill, but I was just sick about the big hole in my floor. Most people know chocolate is bad for dogs but macadamia nuts can cause vomiting, muscle weakness and hyperthermia. Plus, macadamia nuts cost $25 a pound.
It’s a shame about Drake’s mascot and his tomatoes. He loves them so much. But after Griff’s tomato gluttony-gone-wrong, his handlers have vowed he will never get another one. It is said that dogs sometimes dream of chasing rabbits. Do they sometimes dream of tomatoes? I think they do.