Don’t Eat the Dogfood


Dogfood is made for, well, dogs. People should only partake of it under the most dire of circumstances.

I had some great roommates in college. Like most college students we had some simply grand adventures. One of my roommates in particular considered pranks an art form.

I don’t wish to embarrass the guy, so we’ll call him Justin. Justin is actually exceptionally intelligent. His pranking gift rested in his capacity to appreciate life on a higher plane than the rest of us.

We were all poor and living hand to mouth. We each maintained a cabinet in the kitchen that we kept stocked with ramen, mac and cheese and similar low-cost comestibles. We shared the apartment expenses, but typically fed ourselves. One month, fairly late at night, Justin was unloading groceries in the kitchen. I saw him put a can of Alpo dogfood into his cabinet. We didn’t have a dog.

“Justin, what’s with the dogfood, bro? You know we don’t have a dog?”

“Yeah, it’s another few days until the end of the month and my ROTC check. I’m just kind of tight. They sell this stuff at Kroger for 22 cents a can, and it doesn’t look too awful. I think it’ll be ok for a few days until my money comes in.

I put my book bag down and approached my friend.

“Dude, it’s not that bad. I can spot you some mac and cheese until the end of the month. Don’t be eating dogfood, man.”

By now he was studying the can, reading the ingredients and admiring the label. He reached for the can opener.

“Have you ever smelled this stuff?” he asked. “It really does smell pretty good. At four cans for a dollar I could make this go a long ways. I bet it’s better for you than the MREs the Army feeds us. I’m going to try it.”

By now he had my undivided attention.

“Justin, brother…friend,” I said. “Don’t eat the dogfood. They make that stuff out of tails and eyelids and buttholes and stuff. It might not kill you, but you’re not a dog. That has got to make you sick. Throw that away, get into my cabinet, and fix yourself some mac and cheese. Just don’t eat the dogfood. Sheesh…”

By now he had the lid open and peeled back. The aroma was admittedly pleasant. He reached for a fork. By now I was just gobsmacked. He really was about to do this.

Imploring him I said, “Justin, please. I’m begging you, man, in the name of all that’s decent, just don’t eat the dogfood.”

Dogs eating people food is fine. People eating dogfood, not so much.

With that he scooped the fork into the collagenous brown goop, extracted a healthy dollop, and actually ate it. He closed his eyes as if to savor the experience. I was aghast. For a moment time stood still.

“It’s actually quite good,” He said. “Here, you should try it.” He held out a heaping forkful.

I was almost speechless.

“I wash my hands of you, dude,” I said. “There was just no reason for you to eat dogfood. I gave you a viable alternative, and you refused. If you get an intestinal parasite I’m not going to be unduly concerned. You are a sad, sick, twisted man.” With that, I wandered off to do my homework.

I later learned the rest of the story. Justin had indeed discovered Alpo dogfood on sale at Kroger for 22 cents a can. He had also, like all of us, previously observed that canned dogfood actually smells pretty good. Now fully inspired, he had tossed a can of Alpo into his cart along with another can of generic Kroger chili.

Once home Justin had carefully removed the labels from the cans and swapped them. The whole sordid discourse had been a charade. During our exchange Justin had in reality been eating cold chili originally formulated for people, not canines. I had fallen for it completely.

Scientific studies have shown that I am the most gullible person in all of human history. Underneath what I like to consider a fairly rugged veneer I am in actuality a fairly soft-hearted soul. I’d sooner those around me not suffer if there are alternatives available. If people I care about seem hungry enough to eat dogfood I’ll try to engineer a solution. That applies to pretty much everybody…except Justin.

As for that guy, I don’t so much care anymore. If he wants to eat dogfood then have at it. It probably won’t kill him.

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