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The dog drinks out of the toilet, and, really, that’s the least of it.

At the least, the toilet gets a regular flush.

That’s more than can be said for the stagnant puddle down the block. The one lined with last fall’s leaves, garnished with a drowned robin and infused with the Quaker State 10-40 dripping from a nearby over-aged Dodge.

That, my friends, amounts to a regular canine cocktail hour.

It’s whisker-lickin’ good ... especially after snarfing down a sun-dried sunfish halfway through an afternoon lope around the lake.

OK, none too appetizing from my end of the leash, but then, perhaps I suffer from a poorly honed taste for crabgrass and carrion consumed al fresco on concrete. Doggy tastes aren’t our tastes, and that’s not even considering compulsive coprophagia and other habits too nasty to consider.

Anyway, how many yoga classes would it take to be supple enough to lick those places — even if you really wanted to?

And when it comes to the pup’s palate, that’s just the stuff that once might have been food, or at least considered organically edible.

But once inside the mutt happily chows down on tennis balls, pillow stuffing, books, ear buds, the TV remote and shows a special fondness for the inky filling in a Pilot roller ball pen.

Maybe black ink is licorice flavored, I don’t know ...

In short, if it doesn’t move; once moved; moves slowly; or moves quite quickly but isn’t paying attention at a particular moment, the dog will eat it.

With pleasure.

And with a refreshing Johnny-water chaser.

If the thought of it makes you sick, think of what it must do to him.

That would be nothing. Absolutely nothing.

Inexplicably, the pup shows every indication of near absolute internal indestructibility — if he can get it down in front it makes it out the rear, in one form or another. So far the only discernible signs of gastric distress have been bouts of really bad gas and a mournful look with a bulging belly after wolfing down a momentarily unattended two-pound loaf of whole wheat bread and two-thirds jar of peanut butter.

That’s on top of his morning dog food, of course.

Dog food carefully formulated and selected with due regard for his specific nutritive needs and supposedly delicate digestion. Selected from at least three long aisles of canine comestibles packed and packaged to the specific requirements of large dogs, small dogs, old dogs, young dogs, lazy dogs, active dogs, skinny dogs and dogs that need to go on a diet. You can feed your mutt sugar-free, gluten-free or vegan. There’s organic, all-meat and filler-free. There’s beef flavored, chicken flavored, and lamb and rice. All in all it’s quite an amazing selection for a critter whose tastes run to the insole of my new slippers and the turds left by the bunny living under my porch.

But then, considering our own dietary obsessions, what should we expect? Back in the day when Gravy Train was the epitome of dog-owner indulgence we paid about as little attention to doggy diets as we did to our own. We bought dog food so Bowser wouldn’t have to go hungry if there were no leftovers left over from the family table, and what was on that table probably wouldn’t pass muster with the compulsive label readers carefully perusing the nutrition information in the pet food aisle.

It’s a bit of an anxiety antidote to recall that the closest Grandma ever came to a nutrition label was the recipe she consulted to make sure she didn’t forget anything needed to make supper taste good — be that sugar, lard, butter, cream, red meat, bacon fat or blood sausage. Around our table a picky eater was one who used a knife and fork on fried chicken and didn’t pick up the pork chop bone to gnaw it clean. That was an era when the closest anybody came to a peanut allergy was the kid who preferred a Milky Way over a Snickers.

It all makes a fellow wonder if our diet has really gone to the dogs ...

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Jerome Christenson is a former reporter, columnist and editor at the Winona Daily News.

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