If the dogs try to get to their bowls before he finishes, there's a fair bit of hissing and spitting, and they have learned to keep a respectful distance while he chokes down his ritual nugget or two of their Iams. It's not that he likes it.... it's just the principle of the thing; the alpha animal eats first in a dog pack.
I was casting about for an appropriate description of this tactic, when erudite blogfriend Sissy Willis suggested, in the comments, "cat in the manger" (from dog in the manger... see below.)
Someone who has a dog-in-the-manger attitude has something of value that he cannot or will not use himself but which he won’t let anybody else have either...
...[t]he allusion is to one of Aesop’s fables, written about 600BC, in which a dog was taking a nap in a manger. When an ox came and tried to eat the hay in the manger, the dog barked furiously, snapped at him and wouldn’t let him get at his food, food that, of course, was useless to the dog. At last the ox gave up and went away muttering, “Ah, people often grudge others what they cannot enjoy themselves”.
Cat in the manger, indeed... or as the French might say, le chat doit manger ("the cat has to eat.")
Finally got a picture to share with you.
Be sure to visit The Modulator's Friday Ark to see pictures of other bloggers' pets; this Sunday, the Carnival of the Cats is hosted by the most excellent Music and Cats.