Food for the Dogs

Call me crazy but I think my dog’s food looks so yummy that I just have to take pictures of it.  I never used to make such food for dogs.  Dry pellets and/or canned wet food was the norm for me.  I would always buy a breeder brand for quality and throw in some stripped kangaroo meat but that was it.  My dog food idea dramatically changed when we brought Bear, our Saint Bernard, home.

When Bear arrived on the farm we had to show him off to Farmor.  A registered pedigree dog hadn’t lived on the farm before and we had to show Farmor what the fuss was all about.  Farfar always had huskies or border collies.  Everyone in Alta knew that Farfar had a special knack with animals so the farm often was graced with difficult and unwanted animals, especially dogs (and horses).  Farfar would turn them around into excellent working dogs.  Bear was nothing like the farm had ever seen.  Our expectations of him are great and we want to give him a ‘dog’s life’.

Farmor fell in love with Bear immediately.  His character is very solid and he has this majestic manner.  Farmor gave him his first treat – a carrot!  I thought it a little weird to give a dog a hard, solid vegetable.  I didn’t think he would take to it but he chomped it down like a pro.  Farmor told us all the things the old farm dogs used to eat.  During summer the dogs found their own food on the farm – plants, rodents, whatever they could catch.  In winter they ate what was for dinner.  I was very impressed.  I researched a little about dog food ideas and I found that it is best for dogs to eat everyday food.  Dogs are scavengers and for centuries they have been scabbing from humans.  And in regards to dog pellets, as Mick Dundee would say: ‘You can live off it but it tastes like …..’

At every meal preparation I started collecting scraps and end bits.  I cooked up one pot stews with leftovers.  Now I always make a pass by the out-of-date section at the shops to see if there is anything Bear would like for dinner.  I didn’t know how fun it was to make dog food.

Bear eats twice a day.  This is primarily to prevent bloat and he is such a big boy that two half meals does him better than one big meal.  He always gets a base of premium dried dog food bought from the farmers store.  We like to wet it for him, usually with water but sometimes with milk.  He eats the dried food last as the best things, like meat, vegetables and bread, go first.  Even when we mixed the fresh food in, Bear has a talent for eating around the dried dog food to get to the good bits.  For snacks Bear gets carrots, bread, apples and rye cracker-bread.  He likes to chew on rowan tree sticks and nibble on snow.

As a result, Bear is the happiest eating dog I have known.  He doesn’t gobble and gorge himself.  When the food is placed he waits until we say ‘ok’.  He walks over and then gracefully eats.  The best way to tell if your dog is eating well is by the quality of his coat.  The coat is the last thing on a dog that gets nutrients, so if the coat looks good and healthy then the dog is certainly getting all the good nutrients he needs to be happy.  Bear has an amazing coat and I put it down to good breeding and good eating.

Bear will have an important job to do on the farm and so it is essential that he develops in the right way so he can be alert and work well.  A happily fed dog is a good worker and will be an asset to the farm.  I’m sure Bear will follow in the other farm dog’s footsteps by finding his own food in summer, but we will see.