Monday, December 16, 2013

A Snow Dog and her treats.

Our dog, Kismet, is mostly Siberian Husky and part German Shepherd. She was a rescue dog from Idaho, and when we met back in 2006, we liked each other on the spot. She adopted us as much as we adopted her.

Her personality tends toward the Siberian part of her such as her love of escaping from the yard. In our first house, we would let her out in the mornings and open the back door to find her staring defiantly at us among the trees in the vacant lot behind us. How did she escape? We were totally perplexed until the day our son, Christian (being lower to the ground himself back then), discovered she had tunneled from under cover of the enormous rhododendron bush right under the fence -- very smart.

Her Husky prey-driven instincts were in full force, too. Let’s just say for the sake of keeping our stomachs from churning, we soon did not have one squirrel come to visit. Word had spread through the squirrel grapevine that ours was no longer a safe and friendly place to visit. 

After our cat, Vanilla, decided to jump on Kismet’s back with claws extended, we also decided if the cat were to survive he’d need a more cat friendly home. This is just part of a Husky nature and what really counted is that she loved humans and other dogs.

Here in Seattle, when it snows it’s cause for celebration for kids hoping for a snow day from school. It’s also a cause to make the air turn blue from the expletives of the unfortunate drivers attempting to make it up and down the roads of this very hilly city, including the Eastside, where Kirklanders such as ourselves reside at the notorious 500’ above sea level location which seems to include the deadly “Convergence Zone” (similar to The Twilight Zone) where all bad weather seems to end up.

So, when snow hits, power outages or not, Kismet is in canine heaven. With her double coat, the icy cold doesn’t even faze her.  She rolls in it, loves to catch snowballs in her mouth and, best of all, just opens her mouth and runs around the backyard using her bottom jaw as a snow shovel, eating it in as fast as she can. It’s the environment she was born to love. Forget rain, forget jumping into the lake, snow is where Kismet achieves total nirvana. The bigger the snowfall, the bigger the ecstasy for our beloved Husky dog.

For a dog so loving and lovable, Kismet deserves a treat, don’t you think? When she’s all worn out, dried off and back in the warm house here are some suggestions for nutritious home-made treats. Some of these ideas are influenced by Cesar Millan, but as long as they contain vitamins and fiber, do not have anything in them your dog is allergic to and do not contain things like raisins or any other food dogs should not eat, the sky’s the limit.

Mashed Potato, Meat and Vegetable Balls

Many dog treats can be made very simply with human leftovers:

Use mashed potatoes as the glue
1/2 inch pieces of meat
small pieces of vegetables, such as carrots, green beans, squash, asparagus, etc.

Mix together and form small balls.

Before serving, microwave for a few seconds, place in your dog’s dish or serve by hand. An alternative is to dry these out on a nonstick or Pam-sprayed cookie sheet at 225 degrees until firm and no longer a squishy texture. You can freeze these when using this oven drying method.

Everything But the Kitchen Sink Dog Treats

2 ½ cups whole wheat flour (substitute regular flour or oats if your dog is sensitive to wheat)
Pinch salt
1 egg
1/2 cup or more, as needed, of vegetable, beef or chicken broth

Add ins: Bacon pieces, bits of cooked hamburger, cheese; hard-cooked and chopped or scrambled eggs, wheat germ, oats (cut back a little on the flour) are just a few suggestions. Remember, dough shouldn’t be TOO lumpy.

Form all into a ball, then roll out to desired thickness. Can use cookie cutters or just cut into 3-4-inch strips. Bake on a nonstick cookie sheet (can use Pam) for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. Let cool.

Fall Pumpkin Snacks

1/2 cup cooked or canned pumpkin or squash
4 Tblsps. molasses
4 Tblsps. vegetable (or other)  broth
2 Tblsps. canola oil
2 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
optional: cinnamon, 1 tsp.

Mix mashed pumpkin, molasses, canola oil, and broth together in a bowl.
Add the whole wheat flour, baking soda, baking powder and cinnamon (if used) to the mixture and stir thoroughly until all ingredients are blended together.
Make small balls of the dough between your hands (wet hands work best).
Place the balls on a nonstick cookie sheet (or use Pam), flatten with small spoon or fork.
Bake approximately 25-30 minutes at 350 degrees until hard to the touch.

Yuppie Yogurt Bowl

Place cooked or small cut-up raw apple pieces into your dog’s dish. Use other fruit your dog likes if you wish (no grapes or raisins). You can sprinkle a little cinnamon on this. Add a dollop of yogurt and top with granola or muesli. That’s it! Made from things you’re already likely to have around the kitchen.

This is just a sample of what Kismet loves to eat and these recipes are so good for her, too. They are a great source of vitamins and fiber, take little time to prepare and you control what goes in them according to your dog’s specific needs. Best of all, no preservatives. You can pop most of them into the freezer to preserve their tastiness and healthfulness.

Treats award dogs when appropriate and are great for behavior control as well. So here’s to Kismet the snow dog after a hard day rolling in the fluffy white stuff. 

Bone appetite, Kismet!

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