Thursday, April 14, 2011

Adventures in Raw Diet

Recently I visited a couple of friends whose dogs herd, show, and other such splendid activities. Their dogs looked amazing, and both friends insisted that I should try what they were doing – feeding their dogs nothing but raw meat.

I have four dogs. Three of them look fine: the old-as-dirt rescue McCoy, the ten-year-old rescue Tasha, and Bruce, the mutt from under the junk heap who is now two. The fourth is glossy, active, and underdeveloped, looking to be at that gangly foolish age when in fact he should be well-matured and storming the show ring and the herding trials. His Royal Highness Dustin is a picky eater, a chronic anorexic, and generally a fellow of strong opinions.

I had given all of them raw meat before, usually as a special treat or a toothbrush – raw chicken necks are supposed to be excellent plaque removers. Three of them buzzed through chicken necks at first sight. I put Dustin’s in the left front corner of his crate and a few minutes later found him crammed into the right rear corner, lamenting softly that there was something gross in his crate and his Mama didn’t love him anymore. He’s a bigger dog now, and more gastronomically adventuresome than he was, so I tried again today with some lovely meaty skeleton-hunks which had had the breast trimmed off.

Everyone but Tasha got these things in crates, as then I knew exactly where to bleach-wipe afterward: exactly on the spot which is already spit-shined. Tasha got hers in the kitchen, where the tile is easily wiped, as she is both too good-mannered and too arthritic to drag her chicken off under the bed. Today she moseyed in for breakfast in a most pitiful manner, as though her arthritis medicine was the low point of her day and really, nothing I could feed her would be entirely worth the trip. I checked her for actual injuries before feeding her, then put down the dishful of chicken.

She stared. She wagged. She went to town.

McCoy and Bruce responded similarly: Is this really for me? It’s in my bowl. Better gobble it down before the kitchen realizes there was a mistake!
I suspected that Dustin would have nothing to do with the thing, so I added kibble to his options, stirring in a little canned food and yogurt, both of which he loves. I tossed his breakfast into his crate with him and went back to check on Tasha’s progress.

Tasha was crunching contentedly on the last of the chicken. She hung around for some time, plainly hoping for more, as though there might be some on the counter that she hadn’t been notified about and if she stared long enough it would materialize in her dish. Usually she is my husband’s dog and barely offers me the time of day. Today we were good friends.

Dustin, on the other hand, did not eat his chicken. He did not eat kibbles touching the chicken. He did not eat kibbles which were touching kibbles touching the chicken. Now a fully mature dog, he no longer whines on the subject of love or of ickiness. His message was quite clear: Waiter! The kitchen forgot to cook this!

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