Monday, February 9, 2009

Sheltie feeding frenzy!

There is this great story that was published in this past issue of the "Sheltie International" magazine, which is a copy of a note that the owner had written for someone taking care of her Sheltie's while she was away. The title of the piece is "Dog sitting: truth is stranger than fiction." It was originally published in the February 2008 issue of the AKC Gazette, in the Sheltie breed column. It is one of the funniest things I've ever read. It entails all sorts of overly-detailed issues specific to this family of dogs including managing baby gates, feedings, and bed time. At the start of the piece, the author mentions that this particular sitter, oddly enough, never returned!

I think the reason why I find this so funny, is because my notes look EXTREMELY similar to this one! When I dropped off my girls for my friend Becky to watch, I believe that my "note" was a 3 page, back and front NOVEL that detailed everything about my girls day, from sun up to sun down. Even now when I found myself in the hospital, I was having to give detailed instructions to my Mom (whom I live with)DAILY so that my girls could be FED. (Well, fed properly, I should say. I'm sure if she bought a bag of "Old Roy" and let them at it, they would still be here today. Fat and unhealthy, but here.) I so applaud my mom for not only getting everything right, but loving my girls (and loving me!) so much, that she even TRIED during what was a very stressful time. One morning when I called her, she was sitting on the floor PLAYING GAMES (see previous post!) with them. She does love them very much, and I think really understands how important they are to me; and therefore how important their health and well being is.

So, as I'm looking to tomorrow, when I will be once again hospitalized for yet another procedure, I'm preparing my "list" of instructions for my mom to follow so that the girls can be fed. Why, are you wondering, is feeding my dogs so difficult? Well, I transitioned from kibble to raw last February. I had wanted to do it far before that, but wanted to do it the right way: run bloodwork, UA's, and fecals before and after their transition so that I could prove to my (traditional) vet that I wasn't going to kill them. Their switch to raw was due to the fact that I started working at their vets office, which made running all of those tests a little more affordable, and my vet could now see them fairly regularly (they could now come in to just say hello). So, I did my research, and chose a pre-made frozen raw diet that I was happy with. I also picked a second brand, so that after 6 months I could reevaluate how they were doing (and re-run the lab tests for firm results) and then I could switch. It's very important to switch brands because, lets face it, not everyone can get it right all of the time.

Their transition was very easy. They were on a very high quality kibble to start off with, and I had been adding things to it, like raw meat (from Bravo!), veggies, fruits and tripe, right along. They virtually switched over night, and have not had ANY problems since. The only illness that they had over the past year, was a doggy stomach bug that brought a few days of diarrhea, and they picked that up from the playgroup. (Which was confirmed when other dogs from the group had reported the illness before my girls came down with symptoms.) Even then, their little bug lasted for less time, and they did not need anything except a day fast, and some Slippery-Elm to make them feel a bit better. I love how they look and act on raw, and I believe that they really FEEL great too. Heidi's limp is loads better (so much so that we may try NADAC when I get better) and they both have more energy than before.

So why, you are still wondering, is it so hard to feed my girls if I feed a pre-made frozen raw? Shouldn't I only have to thaw it? Yes, I do have to do that, but I also still like adding in some of my own stuff as well. I usually will blend things, when necessary, pour them into mini-muffin cups and then freeze them. I then thaw these (different things for different days) and add them to the raw. Yes, it is totally anal. I really REALLY am a lot more careful with the things that I put into my girls mouths', vs. my own. I may eat any old vegetables, but I have to get theirs at "Whole Foods Market." I may stop at McDonald's on the way home from a show, but they can't get the disgusting pink (yes PINK) milk-bone cookie offered by the cashier at the doggy store. They don't get anything with artificial colors or flavorings, they get no "gluten" of any kind (wheat, corn, soy, NOTHING) and I check into the sourcing of ingredients in their pre-made food. Luckily, I have a lot of resources so that I can do all of this crazy research. (Our favorite magazine "The Whole Dog Journal", and our friend Dawn who owns "The Natural Dog" in Newburyport.

So, what do I "blend up"? I have two veggie mixes, two fruit mixes, sheep's yogurt and tripe (venison or lamb). The mixes are:
Green Veggie: celery, sugar snap peas, broccoli, green beans and romaine lettuce.
Orange Veggie: sweet potato, pumpkin, and carrots.
Red Fruit: strawberries, blue berries, raspberries, black berries, and cranberries.
Yellow Fruit: oranges, apples, plums (or peaches) and pears.
*These are just the ingredients of the current mixes; I switch up the produce according to the season. Some things are a staple: oranges and apples, all the berries, and pumpkin. But almost everything else changes.

And of course, when you have a raw diet, its important to supplement too. Now, the diet is "technically" complete, so you shouldn't go too crazy with the supplements, so I just do what I think my girls need: probiotics, salmon oil, vitamin E, flax oil, vitamin C, apple cider vinegar, bone-meal powder, cod liver oil, honey and coconut oil. These supplements are also only given on specific days, with specific meals.

So, now that you know the "bones" of my girls' diet, lets see how it all comes together! (Mom, this is for you!):
This is all per dog, per meal

1-1/4 large patty (comes out to 2 oz)
1-small nugget (1 oz)
1/2 red fruit
1/2 yogurt
1/8 tsp Vitamin C
1/8 tsp probiotic
1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
*Instructions: thaw meat (whole 8 oz. patty, 4-1 oz. nuggets) in large stainless steel bowl. In small bowl, thaw 1 red fruit (again, frozen mini-muffin cup worth) and 1 yogurt. They will be liquidy when thawed. Mix together, then divide between both dogs bowls.) Mix fruit/yogurt and meat well. Add supplement's. Put remaining 1/2 large patty and 2 nuggets in fridge for dinner meal.

1-1/4 large patty
1/2 orange veggie
1/2 tripe
2 pumps of salmon oil
1 squirt (about 1/4-1/2 tsp) flax oil
5 drops vitamin E
1/8 tsp probiotic
*Instructions: thaw meat in large stainless steel bowl. Thaw tripe and orange veggies in small bowl. (These stay pretty firm, so don't mix, you can just cut them). When thawed, cut in half and give half of each to each dog.Mix tripe, veggies and meat, and then add supplement's. Use remaining meat for dinner meal.

1- 1/4 large patty
1- nugget
1/8 tsp bone-meal powder
1/2 tsp cod liver oil
1/8 tsp probiotics
*Instructions: start thawing meat in large SS bowl. Once thawed, scramble two eggs with about 2 tbs of milk. Cook eggs. Split cooked eggs in half. Put 1 half in container (to be refrigerated for dinner). Split remaining half between both dogs for breakfast. Mix meat and eggs, then add supplement's. Do the same for dinner.

1- 1/4 large patty
1- nugget
1/2 yellow fruit
1/2 yogurt
1/8 tsp Vitamin C
1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/8 tsp probiotic
*Instructions: follow same instructions as Monday night. Thaw and mix fruit and yogurt, then divide.

1- 1/4 large patty
1- nugget
1/2 green fruit
1/2 tripe
2 pumps salmon oil
1 squeeze (1/4-1/2 tsp) flax oil
5 drops vitamin E
1/8 tsp probiotic
*Instructions: follow instructions from Tuesday. Thaw veggies and tripe, split, and then mix with meat.

1- 1/4 large patty
1- nugget
1 tsp molasses
1/8 tsp probiotic
*Instructions: follow instructions for eggs on Wednesday. Mix eggs and meat, then add molasses and probiotics.
1 can of fish (Evangers mackerel- 5 oz. can)
2 tbs "The Honest Kitchen" mix (powder)
*Instructions: Put two tbs. of THK into each bowl. Add two tbs of hot water. Mix, and then let thicken. Open can of fish. The fish are WHOLE. Cut whole fish in half, and divide between dogs. Any fish parts, divide and add to each bowl as well. Mix THK and fish. No supplements in morning meal.

2 tbs "The Honest Kitchen"
1/2 container of cottage cheese
1/2 heaping tsp of coconut oil
1 tbs of honey
*Instructions: Thaw cottage cheese in hot water bath. When thawed, start with THK. Put 2 tbs. of powder in each bowl. Add 2 tbs. hot water. Mix, and let thicken. Then, add 1/2 container or thawed cottage cheese to each bowl. Mix with THK, and add supplements.

I mean, COME ON! How easy is that!?!? Its just following a simple pattern: fruit/yogurt, veggies/tripe, eggs. Repeat. Sunday, is an alternate, non-raw meat day. Just to give their bodies a break.

Now, for the most part, it isn't that bad. But the FISH...the fish takes some getting used to. The first time that I opened a can, I couldn't believe that there were WHOLE fish in there! And they still had eyes!!! And because they are cooked, they still have their bones (one of the benefits of using them) so when you cut into them, you can see their bones too. They're pretty nasty looking, and they smell like old, fishy cat food (which is essentially what they are) but the girls love them. I use the Honest Kitchen as a base on Sunday, because it has so many other things in it that their raw base doesn't have. Its just nice to know that they're getting those things in their diet. The cottage cheese comes from the idea of fasting you dog. Depending on what books you read, and what diet you follow, (home made diets) they will have you include a day of fasting. Now, a lot of people can't do a full day, because their dogs follow them around (or do more than that-bark, whine, paw, etc.) when its feeding time, because the dogs are on a schedule. I didn't really see the point of doing a fasting day, so I used some of their suggestions, and incorporated a "meat free" day at the end of the week (or beginning...I guess it depends on how you look at Sunday!)

Now, I wanted to post this because feeding my dogs, making their food, and watching them enjoy it is something that I really like to do. I cant tell you the last time that I cooked a really good, big meal for myself, but I was up the day after Christmas blending tripe because I was running low. Indeed, one of my favorite Christmas gifts, the food processor that I got from my mom this year, enabled me to do that! I did not post this because I think that everyone should follow my girls' diet. On the contrary, I believe that when you decide on a food or diet, I don't think you should tell ANYONE! There are hundreds of message boards all over the Internet with people flaming and becoming way more angry than necessary because they disagree on food and diets. Although raw is becoming a lot more widely accepted (even by veterinarians) it is still controversial. Yes, it is the right diet for my girls. But doing it the right way is most of the battle. Doing research, and making sure that the food is handled and kept properly is part of the territory, so if you're lazy and not prepared to do that, then raw isn't for you. For example, I HAND WASH my dogs dishes every time I feed them. They get sanitized through the dishwasher a few times a week. I take the food out, and thaw it in a warm water bath every morning. I don't microwave it, and don't leave it to sit out. I also make sure that I don't buy or make so much food that the freezer gets over crowded, so I can avoid freezer burn and ice crystals.

I hope you enjoyed, and maybe chuckled a bit at how CRAZY I am when it comes to their food. And just from writing this, I know that I appreciate my moms efforts in helping to take care of my girls even more. Yes, feeding this way is time consuming, but the benefits that I see are worth it. And my girls are worth every dollar spent, every minute blending, and every stomach lurch I feel when I see those fish looking up at me! Now, go and feed your dogs, will you? And make sure that you are checking ingredients. Aren't your dogs worth it too??

And just so you get inspired, hes some views of Shelby enjoying (almost obscenely) her dinner:

Oh My GOD, this is SO GOOD! *nom nom nom*

See? I told you I could eat it all in less than 15 seconds!

I'm going to lick my bowl clean...just for good measure... get...every...MOLECULE....

And Im gonna lick the sides too...just in case...

Oh my god! Theres another dog trying to eat my food! Oh wait...thats just my reflection in a my LICKED CLEAN bowl...


gsacca said...

and your mom is still speaking to you after all this? :-0

Cool Design Shelties said...

I'm a Raw Food fan too...I could see a big difference in the dogs health after I started feeding with Raw Food .... I will never go back to dry food. Thank your mother a second time for her patience with your girls food :o)


apsullivan said...

Thank your mother for now trying to feed you the Raw food after all that! I'm amazed you had time to hold down a job with all the prep work that diet takes! ;)
Seriously, good luck today, you're in our thoughts! We love you!

Josh and Jess said...

We are seriously impressed with how clean that bowl is after you've finished with it!!!! :)

Vonnie said...

Oh they are loving there food! Nice clean see yourself in it bowl! Good luck tomorrow.

Ludo van puppy said...

That looks delicious Shelby! I used to be on raw when my Mum and Dad lived together but me and Mum has had to come live with grandpawents now and there is no space for my freezer. :(
~lickies, Ludo

Sara said...

I made my petsitter come to my house once to give her instructions - because it was just too much to write down!! Once she got there, I realized I was being a bit ridiculous when I started telling her where to "get the water".

Thanks for sharing your recipes.