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Saturday, January 9, 2016

Going to the Dogs

Parisians love their dogs – those who have dogs, that is. Dogless Parisians often have a very different view, and I find it hard to imagine having a dog in Paris myself. But I'm sure those spoiled little Fifis in their smart little coats eat quite well, whatever the size of the owners' kitchens. 

When puppy Sarah first came home with us in January of 2007 from the Cherryland Humane Society in Traverse City, after only a single night in the shelter, she had already had the benefit of a good start in life. Her former owners, who could not take her along when they moved, had taught her to Sit, Stay, and Come! on command. She never chewed a book or a sock or a shoe or a slipper. I called her the Practically Perfect Puppy. The naughtiest thing she ever did, though, was a chewing incident: alone in the car, she gnawed the knob of the gearshift lever down to a little nub of nothing. (Also, truth be told, if we left a newspaper in the car with her, we would come back to find that completely shredded. In general, as a puppy she found it hard to be left alone in the car.) But how could we get be angry at anyone so obviously happy to see us again? And she grew out of the problem quickly.

[And here I am intensely frustrated because I can't find the cute picture of puppy Sarah with her happy face yearning toward us through the car window after the naughtiest act of her life. I came upon it yesterday but can't find it again today. Have to make do with a cute one of her on Waukazoo Street with an old friend.]

One of the first lessons I wanted her to learn about living in our house was that the kitchen is off-limits to dogs. There isn’t room for a dog underfoot in my tiny kitchen. There’s no room for her food and water dishes in there and therefore no need for her to cross the threshold at all. She was a quick study! Second food-related lesson for the new puppy was not to rush her food dish. One of us put the food in the dish and set it on the floor, and Sarah had to sit and wait politely until we gave her the okay. She’s still good about it, too, even when I sometimes forget she’s waiting until I notice her lying down with chin resting forlornly on the floor next to her dish. What a great dog!

We’re pretty good to Sarah, too. For example, it’s rare for me to go anywhere without her. And yet I wouldn’t say she’s spoiled. And I do not, as a general rule, cook for the dog.

Okay, one year I did. Sarah is a healthy girl but has a few allergies, and cheap dog food did not agree with her. So when I was the recipient of a large bag of frozen enison scraps, given to me by a fellow dog-owner who had been given more than she could use by a hunter friend, that launched nearly a year in which I prepared Sarah’s meals from scratch. Meat, garlic, brown rice, carrots, and brewer’s yeast were the usual mix, with occasional green vegetables or rolled oats thrown in. Then life got busier, I started buying more expensive prepared food for her, and she’s been fine with that.

But for Christmas my mother’s gift to me (I wondered a little if it was meant more for Sarah) was a book of recipes for homemade dog biscuits. And on Thursday Sarah had to submit – it could be postponed no longer! -- to having her toenails clipped. While I am always very careful not to cut into the quick, Sarah has always had certain “issues” when it comes to her feet, and the terrors she suffers turn what would otherwise be a quick procedure into an ordeal for us both. The other day, however, she  was not as resistant as she could have been (and often is), so I decided she deserved a treat afterward. 

Quite honestly, I needed a break from routine myself, having spent most of the day on the odious tasks of bookkeeping and filing, especially painful with last year's figures indicating a drastic drop in sales along with higher-than-usual costs. Yes, I’ll make something special for Sarah! Escapism, yes!

I looked at several recipes but in the end cobbled one together from those ideas and ingredients at hand: cooked sweet potato, peanut butter, brown rice flour, rolled oats, an egg, and a dash of molasses.

For dogs -- garlic, yes; onions, no

Baked at 350 degrees until – what else? – golden brown.

Sarah seemed to know they were for her, but I’m doling out these treats one at a time. Cooking for the dog is going to remain a special occasion for the cook, as well as for the dog, not something we do every day. David and I still come first.


  1. I have never made treats for Katie...though I have a few recipes. I always have good intentions and then it doesn't happen. You are right. If I don't have time for dessert for us, then I don't have time for dessert for the dog. But she does have lovely brown eyes. She is hard to resist.

    1. Maybe now that you're retired, Dawn? Katie likes this idea of mine!

  2. Awwww Sarah girl...we make Katie wait for her treats too. You are a good girl.

  3. If anybody waits in my house it's me.......if anyone gets homemade cookies, it's the dogs........they know not one trick and obey not one rule or "command." Indulgence? Yes.

    1. Sarah has to behave, because she works outside the home. A bookstore dog can't be running wild in the bookstore! But I know yours are happy dogs, Cheri.