I’ve been thinking of dog food, on and off all day. I’ve already told you that Clarisse has brought back memories of my once-starving Audrey (and my new little cat Mike, who, although he didn’t look as rail-thin and bony as Audrey and Clarisse, was nevertheless severely malnourished). Come to think of it, both Audrey and Mike had the proverbial ‘belly full of worms’, and I should remind Maureen to monitor Clarisse for that…
Another reason I’ve been thinking about what I feed my dogs is that, a few days ago, I switched over to the ‘healthy weight’ variety of the dry food I use, because several of my dogs are…well, let’s just say that, if you wanted to get an accurate rib count on them, you might need to use X-ray equipment. Two of my neighbors have said that Burberry is looking portly. Portly doesn’t go with her personality. And I wanted to help Grace take a little more off (she’s already come down a bit), to help with her aching hip joint and general mobility.
So, as I say, I switched to the lower fat, higher fiber variety, which, unfortunately, seems to be not quite as tasty as the regular flavor. Some of the dogs are scorning it, eating the meat, rice, and veggies I’ve added, and leaving the rest behind. In a one-dog household, you might be able to let that go on for awhile, your thinking being that, when your dog got hungry enough, he or she would eat the kibble. But I can’t do it here, because dogs like Audrey will finish off the contents of everyone else’s bowl, low fat or not.
In addition to that problem with the weight management kibble, I’ve got another. Little Anna Belle must be really affected by the higher fiber, and she’s pooping much more often than usual, and not always making it outside. Annie is, possibly, my most ‘mysterious’ dog, and I can’t wait to write a long blog entry about her past, or what I know of it. I spend a lot of time trying to figure out, from the clues she presents me with, why she is how she is, both physically and psychically. One thing I’m sure of (although there are signs that her previous owners didn’t figure this out) is that, for some reason, she often has a sudden, urgent need to move her bowels. Although she tries to get outdoors, she can’t always move fast enough, possibly because her body doesn’t give her enough warning, or maybe because of the unusual formation of her hind legs. For months now, she’s been controlling her bowel movements really well, but the high fiber food has caused a setback. She’s not one of my dogs who really needs to lose weight, so tonight she, and some of the others, will switch back to the normal variety.
The last reason I’ve been thinking so much about food is that today I was chosen to be the happy recipient of a crock pot, from a generous person on our recycling network (a great thing to join, if you want to do pet rescue–see my section called, ‘One Tiny Step Per Day’). I already use my big crock pot at least once a week, and having a second one will help a lot, because just recently I tried an experiment, and found that dogs love rice pudding, a modified version made without sugar. So now I’ll be able to have a meat crock pot and a dairy crock pot going at the same time, and can prepare better for weeks when I’m going to be very busy.
I had to go to the store anyway, to pick up the regular variety of dry food, so I thought I’d check the meat counter for ‘stickered meat’, things whose expiration dates are approaching. I got lucky. There were three packages of flank steak, reduced from $7.99 per pound to $3.99 per pound, and the expiration date was January 13th. I bought them all–Maureen, we’re going to have to make sure we shop at different stores :)–and I thought I’d tell you how I prepare something like that for the dogs, in case you want to try it.
First I brought four or five cups of water almost to a boil in a huge saucepan, and stirred in half a can of cream of mushroom soup. I don’t use soup very often, because of the sodium content, but I felt like treating the dogs to a particularly flavorful meal today. Next, in my big crock pot (I think it must be a five-quart, although I couldn’t find it written anywhere on it), I poured a layer of brown rice about half an inch deep. Then I spread about half of a 40-oz bag of mixed frozen vegetables over the rice, and laid one of the flank steaks on top (1.81 pounds, this time). I sprinkled it with quite a bit of cinnamon (dogs really love cinnamon, and it’s a natural blood sugar stabilizer and probably has lots of other health benefits), poured the mushroom broth over everything, and set the crock pot to high. Because I started with almost-boiling water, and because the steak was thin, it should be ready in time for dinner. I know from past experience that this concoction will have them licking their bowls clean, even the ones who’ve still got the lower fat kibble as a base.
I love cooking for my dogs. And I love watching them eat. I love watching the cats eat, too, especially Mike, who, so far, eats everything as if it were a mouse. The first time I saw him toss a hunk of wet food from his bowl onto the floor, pounce on it, and bite down hard, I knew exactly what all that was about–his body language was unmistakable, he was a feline Marcel Marceau. Now there’s a clue for you.