T is for Treats

treats

As you’ve read, string cheese is the high-value training treat of choice around here, used to help Leo overcome his fear of bicycles and other fast-moving objects. With a reward-based counter-conditioning program, you’re supposed to use a treat that is special to that training, and it’s supposed to be extremely high value.

At first, I tried to stick to an ancestral diet by using cooked liver, which is odorific in preparation and leaves residue on the hands during training. For a variety of reasons, string cheese works best.

When we play nose work games in the garage, I’ve been using Zuke’s because they are very fragrant and easier to handle than cooked liver. They remind me of the Train-Me treats I described in Bark and Lunge:

These treats, about the size of a pencil eraser . . . tantalized me with their aroma. I gave up eating meat almost ten years earlier, but I loved sticking my nose in a freshly opened bag of bacon-flavored Train-Mes.

A general purpose treat around here, for example, to give the pups when they come back inside from the yard, is Merrick’s Texas Hold ‘Em dehydrated lamb lung. (Some of my dog-bloggy buddies recently were given some of Merrick’s BackCounty ancestral food to review. Hey, Merrick, put me on that list!) The dehydrated lung was recommended to us by an observer to a training class, who called it Doggie Crack.

Here you see the Mia and Leo tweaking out over it. (As I took these shots, I thought of all my dog-bloggy friends who do a really good job taking pics of their dogs for product reviews, and felt like inviting one of them over… or asking to go to their house, where I imagine the natural light is fantastic and the floors are perfectly clean.)

Something that was kind of fun for Easter, we did a little egg hunt with dollar-store plastic eggs and Zuke’s mini treats. Here’s a re-enactment.

For the A to Z Challenge, I’m using all positive language in my posts. Read the story of how positive training helped my reactive dog Isis in my book, Bark and Lunge!

T

Join me for the Thursday Barks and Bytes Blog Hop, hosted by 2 Brown Dawgs and Heart Like a Dog.

Heart Like a Dog

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Jonesin’ for a beef marrow bone

Leo has a funny way of running around with a bone in his mouth, looking for a place to hide it, before finally giving up, and plopping down next to Mia to eat it.

Here I’ve given them each a beef center bone from Jones Natural Chews:

And now… the winner of the Jones Natural Chews Canine Christmas Crunchers stocking …

Jones Canine Christmas Cruncher

 

Kaitlin Jenkins of SheSpeaksBark!

 

BlogPaws Wordless Wednesday Blog Hop

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Y is for Yogurt

To celebrate Leo’s fourth birthday last week, we took the pups out for frozen yogurt.

I ordered a custom-made toy for Leo too, but it hasn’t arrived yet. He didn’t mind; it’s not like he knows it’s his birthday. I’m rational enough to recognize that the celebration was more for us than him. He had a good time at his party, but he enjoyed chewing on his raw meaty deer bone dinner just as much, and he gets to do that a couple of times a week.

So what if Menchie’s isn’t the most nutritious snack for dogs?

Rob wanted to bring Leo inside to pick out his own flavor, but I said, “Don’t be ridiculous. Leo can’t read.” I picked out their flavors: Fresh Coconut with a dollop of Caramel Coconut Cookie Craze. I know, it’s insane. I thought the white coconut yogurt looked too plain.

Another thing we humans do, which our dogs surely don’t give a rip about, is bake cookies and decorate them. I bought some of this Fido’s Frosting when I baked Christmas cookies last year. It’s better for dogs than Menchie’s, because there’s no added sugar, but since the cultures aren’t “active,” I’m pretty sure it’s a nutritional wash.

FidosFrosting

Recently, Alice (that’s Grandma to Leo and Mia) bought a Bake a Bone treat-maker, so we’ll be sure to ice some of those bad boys with Fido’s Frosting.

Y is for Yogurt

Y

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Cookies! (Just one)

Just one cookie. That’s all I’ll eat. Just to taste to make sure Rob will like it.

Just one cookie. All I need is for one cookie to look remotely like the NinjaBread Men on the cookie cutter packaging.

Well, they taste good anyway. Made some for the doggies, too, and they seem to like them.

The Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge: One.

Dining in style

They’re here! Our Nutrish-sponsored hand-painted dog bowls from BarkWorld!

We feed our dogs a combo of raw beef, deer bones and the Pacific Stream flavor of Taste of the Wild grain-free kibble (on the advice of a holistic vet). I had no plans to change up their diet, but oh my, did they go crazy for the free sample of Nutrish Zero Grain Turkey and Potato. Leo even dug the empty package out of the trash, ran into the backyard with it, and licked it clean (then tore it up). He doesn’t do that with Taste of the Wild, and we frequently leave the empty bag lying around before we throw it away.

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Happy Carnivores

I just met a guy in a parking lot and handed him a check for $175 for 100 pounds of raw beef and organs to feed to my dogs. The meat was delivered on Saturday, as part of a chain coordinated by a raw-feeding cooperative.

I’ve been meeting people in parking lots to buy raw meat for more than four years now, although I’m not a raw-feeding purist. When Leo was a pup, a holistic vet suggested I supplement the raw meat with a grain-free kibble, to help him put on weight. We like Taste of the Wild. Sometimes Leo doesn’t feel like eating his raw beef breakfast, so I like knowing that he’ll eat his kibble dinner (fed to him in either a Dog Tornado or Aikiou paw; I alternate which dog eats out of which).

Raw meaty bones are the best for keeping doggie teeth clean, so I recently picked up 100 pounds of deer bones, hoping they’ll last nearly a year. Here are my little darlings munching away. Twinsies!

carnivores

I don’t eat Paleo, but my dogs do

Have you heard about the potentially controversial research that dogs, through evolution, can now digest carbs in a way that wolves could not?

When I heard, and decided to blog about it, I was astonished to see how little I have written about raw feeding. A mention here or there, sure, but nothing significant since I first started feeding Isis raw meat in 2009.

I’m a believer in the nutritional benefits of feeding a dog raw meat. Humans are the only creatures that cook their meat, after all. Based on the information I had at the time, I fed Isis a prey model of 80 percent muscle meat, 10 percent bone, 10 percent organs. She seemed to thrive on the diet with a glossy coat and nonstinky breath.

She died very suddenly within two years of being put on this diet, but I have no reason to believe the diet had anything to do with her death from a thymic hemorrhage. I had recently added vegetables and nuts to her diet, at the suggestion of a holistic vet. I don’t think the vegetables or nuts killed her either. She had seen both the holistic vet and our regular vet within a few months of her death, and neither found anything medically wrong with her as a result of her diet, or otherwise.

Leo has eaten raw meat since I brought him home. Because he was extremely lean at about seven months, the holistic vet suggested I supplement the meat and bones with a grain-free kibble. He has eaten a combo of raw beef, deer/bison/llama bones and Taste of the Wild Pacific Stream formula ever since.

As a puppy, Leo works on a bison neck

As a puppy, Leo works on a bison neck

Mia was a little smelly and dull-coated when we got her, but shortly after transitioning to this same diet, her coat glistened and her breath got fresher. She did gain some weight from overfeeding, but otherwise is terrifically healthy.

So I won’t change my dogs’ diets based on the news reported today in the Los Angeles Times, NPR and the BBC. (I offer you three links to give the choice of reading, listening or watching the report).

The way I understand it is that dogs are capable of digesting grains. That doesn’t make it more nutritious than their historical diet. That doesn’t mean that they will live healthier, longer lives by eating a corn-based processed kibble.

I’m amused by the paradox between this research and the Paleo Diet, which is based on the idea that humans should still be eating the things they ate before the agricultural revolution. So, dogs have evolved to eat grains, but humans haven’t gotten there yet?

I don’t dispute the health benefits of going paleo, but I digest cake, bread and french fries just fine, thank you very much. I do know that I would be better off eating more vegetables. And I believe that dogs are better off eating a diet primarily consisting of raw meat and bones.

I think I haven’t blogged much about this before because I wanted to stay out of the fray, but I’m ready to stir the pot. So let’s hear it: My fellow raw feeders, what do you make of this news? Other dog lovers, where do you stand on a high-protein versus high-carb diet for your pooches?

True Confessions, weight loss edition

Almost 10 years ago, I lost a bit of weight on Weight Watchers. Following the plan was fairly easy and it took me a little over six months. I lived alone and didn’t have much of a social life; controlling what I ate was a piece of cake. I didn’t even exercise that vigorously at the time. And I was in my twenties.

I mostly kept the weight off for several years, despite moving in with Rob, perhaps because I practiced martial arts with him regularly. If the pounds started to creep back on, I thought, no problem, when the number on the scale gets higher than I can stand, I’ll just do Weight Watchers again. I rejoined on two occasions. Once with meetings and once online. I didn’t find it as effective either time, and not because they changed the plan slightly.

Partly, I found it too hard to keep track of my points. I eat lunch at the Skagit Co-op a lot. How am I supposed to know how many points are in their tuna cassoulet? I also blame my thirtysomething metabolism. The pounds don’t just melt off anymore.

When you’ve been meaning for a few years to lose that pesky five pounds, it’s especially discouraging to watch that amount double… and triple… and …

“Okay,” I’d tell myself. “Let’s do this.” Then I’d finish Rob’s fries. A couple of fries can’t hurt, can they?

A few months ago, I saw Biggest Loser trainer Bob Harper on the Today Show talking about his new book, The Skinny Rules: The Simple, Nonnegotiable Principles for Getting to Thin.

The rules include:

  • Drink a big glass of water before every meal.

I can do that!

  • Eat apples and berries every day.

Oookay.

  • Go to bed hungry (don’t eat after 8 pm)

Challenging, maybe, but definitely a good idea and something I could work toward.

  • Eat protein at every meal.

This is a tough one for me, since I don’t eat meat (although I do eat fish, eggs and cheese). When I was on Weight Watchers, I considered a baked potato to be an acceptable meal. Which brings me to:

  • No white potatoes. Not even baked.

Uh oh.

  • No starchy carbs after lunch.

Oh, hell, no. That’s too hard. If I can’t have rice, potatoes or pasta, what am I supposed to eat for dinner?

The following week, I may have tried to drink more water and not eat after 8, but that was about it until Rob downloaded Harper’s audiobook from the library. (He downloads lots of books by trainers. I’m pretty sure he wasn’t telling me I needed to lose weight.) I spent a recent Sunday morning lying in bed listening to Harper’s twenty rules.

“Okay,” I told myself. “Let’s do this.” Then ate most of Rob’s fries at lunch.

BUT… I also stocked up on veggies, apples, and berries. Bought the Skinny Rules for my Nook, so I could reference Harper’s sample menus to give me ideas about what I’m supposed to eat for dinner.

A week and a half later, I’m down four pounds. Which is awesome, considering I cheat every day. Just a little.

What’s the difference? I needed some rules to enable me to make better choices. No potatoes. Fine. No starches after lunch. If you insist.

Also, I’m not thinking about what I can’t eat, but what I get to eat. Yay, salmon, peanut butter on apples, fancy hard cheeses, cucumbers and hummus, Greek yogurt mixed into my oatmeal. I feel like I’m changing the way that I eat, not just dieting. Remember that tuna cassoulet? I’m not eating it anymore (pasta noodles and creamy sauce). I stick to the vegetable dishes at the Co-op and make sure to get a small scoop of tuna or egg salad. That place is really a blessing, since I don’t like preparing my own lunches. (Or dinners, for that matter, which makes it less fun to follow Rule 15: Prepare and eat ten meals at home a week.)

I don’t usually tell people when I’m trying to lose weight. And incidentally, I’m allowed one splurge meal a week, so if you see me eating a cracker at 7 pm, don’t wag your finger at me.

If I gain those four pounds back by next week, I’m totally deleting this post.

Airport security and a missed opportunity

Long ago, my mother taught me that if you see something you really want during your travels, buy it. Don’t wait. Because you might not see it again, and then you spend the rest of your trip searching in vain for the clear umbrella with matryoshka dolls on it. Oh, sure you’ll see lots of blue ones, but the clear one will elude you.

It feels like a silly travel rule when tons of souvenir stands sell millions of seemingly the same thing. But time and again, I’ve made this mistake.

We flew Dutch airline KLM for our European adventure, which meant we passed through the Amsterdam airport three times. The first time, we were here more than seven hours which was enough time to go into the city, have some beers and see the Anne Frank House. We had one minor glitch, though, because we put our coats in a locker near the gate where we arrived, without paying attention to where it was, or where our departing gate was, which led to our having to go through the security line and passport control twice, and being the last ones on the plane. They did not, however, call our names, tell us we were delaying the flight, and threaten to offload our luggage, which we heard them do to others on our second trip through.

After we’d been through security once, before we knew we’d have to do it again, we passed a chocolate shop called Leonidas. That’s our dog’s name!! I cooed, we hastily took a (not very good) picture with Rob’s digital camera, and I made a mental note to come back. Because it would be silly to buy a box of chocolates with your dog’s name on it at the beginning of a two-week trip to Europe. Not when you know you’ll have another chance on your way home.

Unless… getting back to that store on your way home would mean having to go through passport and security twice more. I mean, I love my dog, and I love chocolate, but he can’t read. Or eat chocolate.

image

Still, I’m pretty sure this is the biggest disappointment of the trip. Worse than not getting to see Lenin.