If you were to come to my house at around 5 every afternoon, you could be forgiven for thinking I were intent on making dinner for a family of ten. Turkey burgers cooking on the stove, blender purring, pureeing vegetables, pots of rice and oats being stirred. In fact, I am cooking for the mighty Ottie who, these days, gets gourmet meals compared to my endless bowls of cereal.
After being diagnosed with an ulcer, looking like an Auschwitz dog and refusing his kibble, eating only what I would put on top to make it more palatable, against the better judgement of most dog owners, I decided to take matters into my own hands.
Common thinking suggests that a dog will not willingly starve himself and that the proper course of action is to leave the food out, retrieve it if not eaten, and keep on putting it out until the dog finally gives in. That might all be good and well, and it is possibly (surely) true I am spoiling my 8-year-old puppy but I was tired of obsessing over his protruding ribcage and his apparent depression. Armed with information gathered on-line (most of it shoddy and approximate) and an old-fashioned paper book on feeding dogs a natural diet, I figured out that the 50 pounds of His Royal Canine Highness needed a pound of meat a day and half that in starch and vegetables, some calcium in the form of yoghurt or egg shells and off I embarked on this adventure of feeding Ottie without the help of processed food.
Being a picky eater, vegetables need to be pureed or he will push them aside, but he loves rice and oats, not to mention turkey, chicken and beef. Not to break my bank, I do add some canned food to what I make, which is still cheaper than buying 7 pounds of meat a week. If all this sounds like madness and, trust me, it is, in three weeks Ottie slowly started to put on weight again, he eats with such gusto I have never seen before and, best of all, he has gone back to sprinting and bolting after birds and coyotes in a way he hadn’t done in the last few months. He walks around with a smile over his 8-year-old face.
In truth, I am not planning to continue all this prepping, sautéing, steaming and pureeing forever but I don’t think I will completely go back to feeding him 100% processed food. I am more inclined to trust his intuition that kibble day in and day out wasn’t good for him. By the way, the stomach gurgling and the offensive farting that would send me running outside every time I sat down to watch tv have stopped completely.
We are both navigating middle age as gracefully as we can, Ottie and I, and we have both come to the place where good food and a healthy diet help us feel better. Now, if I could only find the time to cook a gourmet meal or two for myself….