After putting Argus down last October due to spleen cancer, we got a new dog- Cookie – who just turned three. Needless to say, after having a senior citizen dog, it is quite a change to be taking care of a young dog again.

Unlike our other dogs, Cookie loves to eat grass. Every chance she gets- she indulges. On every walk, she is constantly on the lookout for that delicious blade of grass and because she is so quick, she can usually nibble a blade or two before I can yank her away.

So- the question is why? … And should I be concerned?

According to several articles on the internet (see references listed below), Cookie’s grass eating may not be so bad. There could be any number of reasons for it. And it may or may not be anything to worry about!

The first reason- which no doubt, any dog lover thinks of and automatically assumes- is that Cookie has a digestive or stomach issue, such as irritable bowel syndrome, gastric reflux, an inflamed stomach, or nausea and is eating grass to make herself vomit. But, Cookie eats grass ALL the time and is not vomiting. So, this assumption does not work.

Could it be that Cookie is eating grass because she has a nutritional deficiency? That is, the kibble I am feeding her lacks sufficient fiber and/or roughage? She unwittingly craves fresh greens and fibrous vegetables such as spinach, kale, broccoli or parsley? I do not know; but, again, I cannot assume this without further checking (such as having a blood test done on Cookie to determine if there are any insufficiencies) that this is so.

Or, is Cookie’s eating grass a behavioral or psychological issue? Is she overly anxious, and so is eating grass as a compulsive behavior? It may be an obsessive-compulsive behavior! Or, is she bored and is eating grass out of boredom because she is home alone all day without human interaction? Or, is it due to a lack of attention and lack of human interaction and so she eats grass to get our attention? Again, I cannot assume: I must do some further investigation such as consulting an animal behaviorist before concluding that this is the reason.

Or, is Cookie eating grass as a natural instinct? In the wild and before domestication, dogs were omnivores. They were scavengers and would eat single prey items. Unlike today, they did not feed on well balanced kibble, but, rather, would eat anything and everything available, which in the end, led to a well balanced diet which included the greenery and plants that had been ingested by their prey. So, while today, Cookie is fed well balanced kibble, like other dogs, she still has that scavenger instinct. (I can pictureArgus’s head inside the garbage can!) And so, it is ancestry, and/or heritage that may lead Cookie to eat grass. But, again, I cannot assume this without further investigation.

Or, Cookie may eat grass due to evolution as a means to hide or conceal her scent from her prey. I cannot assume this either without some further inquiry.

Or, Cookie may eat grass simply because she enjoys it. The same way that I enjoy the taste and texture of a good Granny Smith apple, Cookie may enjoy the taste and texture of a large, fresh newly grown blade of grass! Or, she may be hungry (dogs are ALWAYS hungry!) and so eats the grass as a snack or, like many people, simply enjoys the process of eating! But, again, I should not assume any of this to be true without further investigation.

So- what does this have to do with negotiations and mediations? It’s simple! Just as I cannot assume why Cookie eats grass but, rather, recognize that it could be for any number of reasons, a party to a negotiation or mediation should not assume anything, either. As I must with Cookie, a party must make further inquiry into why a certain statement was made or a position taken. A party must inquire into what is really going on rather than taking “it” at face value and using assumptions to fill in the blanks and gaps. And just as with Cookie, the reason may not be the one assumed (i.e., Cookie has upset stomach) but may be one that we never even thought of (Cookie simply enjoys eating grass!).

The moral; do not assume: rather, ask questions, do some due diligence. More often than not, the rationale or reason for why someone does or says something is quite different than what you assume it to be. Assumptions can be dangerous. Beware of them.

…. Just something to think about.


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