Vita and Bertie are on an exclusion diet.
This is because Vita periodically licks one or other of her haunches to the point where her skin is red raw, which means trips to vets for steroids and antibiotics. We've had the same problem with our other Airedales. It's probably food intolerance so we're finally trying to get to the bottom of what causes it, hence the diet. Bertie doesn't need it - typical mongrel, eats anything - but you can't do one dog and not the other.
So for two to three months they have to be on this very expensive special kibble diet based on "hydrolysed protein" - I had to look that one up - which is supposed to be entirely neutral for the dog. Then one by one previous foodstuffs are added back to find out what causes the intolerance.
Christmas Day, we hosted our "French class get-together lunch". We made our old farmhouse festive, cooked the largest turkey in the whole of France and revelled in not having to do everything, as our friends arrived with luscious starters, prepared vegetables and all the trimmings. It was tough on our exclusion diet dogs - all those delicious cooking smells - so we kept them down in the cottage (much barking and whining) as we humans enjoyed our repast up at the house.
With the departure of our last guests, Tod went down to let out our two pent-up mutts while I cleared up. I whisked round lifting half-empty bowls of nibbles, opened boxes of chocolates and crumb laden plates above terrier nose height and set about filling the dishwasher.
I did not, however, reckon on the sheer determination of two dogs that have eaten nothing but beige bland biscuit for a month. An Airedale tongue hoovered along the edge of the work surface finding meat scraps where five hours earlier one of our guests had expertly carved the turkey. Nor did I anticipate that a walnut, in a bowl on the middle of the dining room table could be flicked onto the floor and then carried out of sight and crunched through - shell and all - on the hall rug. And I certainly thought that the left-over slices of stollen cake which we'd had for tea were well out out of reach, until I found an Airedale with her mouth full and incriminating crumbs all round her muzzle.
Think we may be back to square one with the exclusion diet. And by the way, how's yours going through this festive season?