Let us put by some hour of every day for holy things...

I will not doubt, though all my ships at sea
Come drifting home with broken masts and sails.
I will believe the Hand which never fails,
From seeming evil, worketh good for me.
And though I weep because those sails are tattered,
Still will I cry, while my best hopes lie shattered:
I trust in Thee.
--Ann Kimmel

Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines, the labor of the olive shall fail and the fields shall yield no meat, the flock shall be cut off from the fold and there shall be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation. Habakkuk 3:17-18

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Doggy Stuff, and the Continuing Saga of My Olympic Decline

Well, no, that's not actually my face, though I am feeling and looking more or less like chopped meat after staying up to watch the ice dancing finals last night. 

What you're seeing is my experiment in homemade dog treats, which I made yesterday.

Darling Peppy!

Several months ago Peppy suddenly began itching constantly. I hadn't made any recent changes to his diet or anything so I couldn't figure it out. The poms get Northwest Naturals raw food nuggets at night, and for breakfast I have always fed them a high-quality kibble. Up until a year or so ago, it was Evo, but due to availability and manufacturer issues, I had switched to Taste of the Wild. All the dogs like the food, and neither Wickham nor Lollia have had exhibited any itching.

I tried what I could for Pep. I did cut out popcorn from his diet (he loves it so and almost always catches it on the fly if I toss it to him) and I switched to a different shampoo, but nothing seemed to make any difference. The vet said I might have to put him on a very restricted diet and reintroduce foods one by one to determine what he was reacting to. Not a pleasant prospect.

We are blessed to have a very knowledgeable and health-committed pet food store in our area (this is where I get the Northwest Naturals nuggets) so I went in and spoke to the proprietor. He asked what I was feeding, and when I mentioned Taste of the Wild, he advised I get my dogs off that immediately. He said he wouldn't even sell it in his store. 

This really surprised me, as the ingredient label is very impressive. The gentleman (who is very respected in dog show circles) said that it's not the type of ingredients in the food, but the quality which is at issue. He then recommended I try Tuscan Natural Simply Pure Chicken Recipe dry dog food in place of the Taste of the Wild. 

Frankly, I was skeptical, but I kid you not--within four or five days of switching, Peppy was back to normal! The occasional scratching, like any dog, but not this constant bit. I was so happy! And I daresay Pep was even more so than I.

Anyway, to bring this rambling story to a point, I've been looking for a good dog treat I could feed Peppy, one that wouldn't have questionable ingredients that might start the itching up again. I couldn't find exactly what I wanted--there are some chicken jerky treats out there, but those are scary, too. Partly because of the dogs- dying-from-treats-made-in-China issue, but also because of the brittleness of the jerky and my concerns about choking hazards. (That's another long story--I'll save it for another time.)

So yesterday I decided just to try making my own chicken dog treats.

Here's how I did it:

 I used three ingredients: 
  • a package of all natural ground chicken (turkey would work, too)
  • about 3/4 cup of organic brown rice baby cereal powder
  • about 1/4 cup of dried blueberries (grated raw carrots would also be a nice addition)

After mixing this all into a thick glop, put it on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, slapped a piece of waxed paper on top of it, and then proceeded to roll it out to about 1/4" thick or a bit less.

I didn't worry about getting it neat around the edges. 

My next step was to remove the waxed paper and score the flattened meat mixture into small squares.

Then I put it in a 350 degree oven and let it cook for 15 minutes, then lowered the temperature to 175 degrees and basically forgot it for a couple of hours. 

When I came back to check on it, it was getting dry-ish, but to make sure it did so evenly, I flipped the big flat patty over and put it back in the oven. I let it go all afternoon. (Maybe trying it at 200 degrees would be more efficient?)

It smelled nice and the dogs were certainly getting curious about the proceedings when I finally took the tray out of the oven, let the pieces cool, and then broke them up individually.

These are a little larger than they need to be for my dogs, but because they're not hard and leathery, I can easily break or cut them into smaller bits. I gave each of the poms a sample--enthusiastically received--and will store the rest in the freezer, taking out only what I need when desired. I haven't tested these on
Crook yet, but I daresay cats would enjoy them, too.

Okay... Time for that awful photograph of my Olympic-viewing- very-exhausted face. I am awake now, so maybe it won't be too awful, though I'm feeling like I've got more lines on my face than those alpine ski courses do after a full day of competitors have been slicing down them. 

Deep breath.

Here goes...

I enthusiastically cheer on Team USA.

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