Saturday, July 29, 2006

Still Hot, Now Muggy

I know, every place else in the U.S.A. has it worse than anything we can complain about here in coastal So Cal. Keep in mind, though, that our homes aren't well equipped for this sort of thing either. I don't have central air, air conditioning, or heat, and the insulation is a joke. I do have a fan though, which has been on all the time lately.

Today was fish day. Hey! It's Friday - how funny! Catholic meals for dogs! Fish is nice and cooling. Used Western Supreme - ground Tilapia with veggies, just add calcium (forgot in the morning).

The heat is fading a tiny bit, but in it's place is humidity. This means itchier dogs. This also means dogs exercising less. Sluggish digestion (from lack of exercise) adds to any lopsidedness in the system, bringing the itchies.

Luckily Vida is not too itchy this year due to, I believe, coconut oil in her diet.

She has had a gunky eye since yesterday - the day after her home alone day - she probably did some vigorous backyard hunting and shoved her face where it didn't belong. It's clearing up with some herbal eye drops.

I've got the fan swiveling so I can get some sitting at the computer. Vida's laying on the concrete floor right where she can get both passes as it turns.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Hot Weather Food

It's been hot here, today in the 90's, which is really unusual for our area. I'm trying an idea of Juliette de Bairacli Levy's with Vida's breakfasts:

  • 1/2 cup (measured dry) flaked grains (barley and quinoa today)
  • 1/2 cup raw milk
    • Soak grains in milk overnight in fridge
  • Squeeze of raw honey
  • Dab of Coconut Oil
  • Squirt of Aloe Juice
  • Squirt of Ol-Immune (due to last week's odd illness)
  • 1/2 tsp Wholistic Pet supplement

The idea is to lighten the digestive load during hot weather by reducing meat. She actually feeds a similar meal regularly, and mentions that native saluki's where fed this type of gruel almost exclusively during the summer (which of course is waaaay more hot than here).

Keep in mind that this isn't the same as feeding kibble, which is of course full of grain. The meal is made of the most digestible form of grain: flaked raw grains that are soaked. Levy describes soaking in veggie broth as well as in raw milk. She's a fan of raw milk and honey together as a restorative. She also recommends that grains be fed seperately from meat.

Of course Vida scarfed it down. I don't usually measure stuff, but wanted to do it a couple of times to get an idea of the finished amount, as I usually make too much food from scratch. As most people do, they judge by what looks like enough, which for a person is more than for all but the largest dogs.

I should've gotten some fish at work today for her dinners this weekend. It's nice and cooling, from a chinese medicine point of view. Tonight she had a very funky dinner though, a left over sample of a raw food that will rename nameless because it's yucky.

Could make great icy dog treats with raw milk, bananas, tahini, and honey, blendered and frozen in ice cube trays. Much better than the commercial products (Frosty Paws contains animal sterol or fat can't remember which, BHA, and BHT - I stopped reading after that). Maybe tomorrow!

Friday, July 21, 2006

Restoring The Importance of Amateurism

There was an article in the Arts section of the New York Times the other day, a review of an historical exhibit on drawing as a cultural activity showing books and ephemera. The article discussed the idea of the death of amateurism. People used to consider it a good education to learn how to draw. Music used to be played in the home. People (kids and adults) used to play pick-up games of baseball in the evening. Now we watch baseball on TV, download music by the famous, and look at drawing as something only "artists" do.

I think this same problem can be seen in the care and feeding of dogs.

People now believe that they need to feed "specially formulated diets", avoiding all "people food". They are afraid to learn the basics of what dogs as a species thrive on. Our society has become accustomed to sickness in dogs (and ourselves!), giving up the power to help our pets live healthy lives in the most basic of ways - through food. Even when given easy access to this knowledge they turn away. Participation is giving way to passive observation.

When talking to people about feeding fresh food to their dogs I often compare it to feeding ourselves - the same reason fresh food is good for us is why it's good for our dogs. It really is that simple, you just need to learn a few guidelines that are species specific.

I'm discouraged when people are offered access to this knowledge, but are more comfortable having a sick pet.

Amateurism is a term that's lost it's way. The term I use more myself is D.I.Y, which stands for Do It Yourself. Whatever you want to call it, we should be doing more of it!

Work Day Fresh for Us Both

I feed twice a day. Some natural feeding folks recommend once a day, but since I live with her I'd rather not have her hounding me for food at either end of the day. Per meal today:

  • 1/2 lb Bravo Turkey Blend (raw turkey with bone, organ, a few veggies)
  • 1-1/2 tsp Wholistic Pet Canine Joint
  • Squirt of Aloe Juice
  • Squirt of Fish Oil
  • Squirt of Coconut Oil
  • 1/2 dropper of Ol-Immune
Easy meal to give on a work day. She had some tiny treats at the store for good behavior, and strip of dried duck chew - a product sample from a rep that supposedly contains glucosamine and chondroitin. Funny to watch a dog be a little confused by size and consistency: not quite bite size, but weirdly chewy.

I had some fresh food myself from my own garden for a change - some tomato (red cherry and orange roma, shared with the dog), and sorrel (cooked briefly with chicken). Eggs come faster than I care to eat them during the summer, so I share them with friends and give them a taste of what eggs should be. Nothing like fresh eggs from chickens that roam and eat bugs (among other things).

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Back to normal

Back to a mostly typical meal - just continuing the immune boosting herbs (Ol-Immune) for a few more days.

  • 2/3 of a 1/2 lb patty of Nature's Variety Beef (raw of course)
  • Honest Kitchen Preference
  • Coconut Oil
  • Fish Oil
  • Wholistic Pet Canine Complete with Glucosamine
The wacky measurement on the meat is because I think that NV doesn't have enough veggies - only 5%. It used to be that I would just add the vegggies to the 1/2 lb., but now that I've got Vida eating a bit less I get 3 meals out of 2 patties. It's easy.

So far today, no reverse sneezing! Hooray!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

so you think fresh food is a bunch of...

A new book is out that's inexpensive, easy to read, and will probably convince you of the importance of fresh food. It's called See Spot Live Longer. It's not that long, you don't even have to read it cover to cover to learn a lot. All you have to lose is $14.95 - what's that - 3 coffee (or alcohol) drinks?

Poor poorly pup

Not sure why, but poor pup is poorly. Much better today. Night before last she seemed a little disturbed during the night, but since she finds odd things to eat outside I thought that was it. Yesterday she had a raw-milk-soaked-rolled-grain breakfast. One the way to work she had a 10-15 minute reverse sneezing episode (while we're on the freeway). Got to work and gave her Five Flower. A half-hour later she puked a little breakfast with a couple spots of blood in it (!). She and I were both sick yesterday, me with a head cold, she with something making her nauseus. She didn't even want to drink, just flat-out refused. So we went home a little early from work, and lay around feeling crummy. Though I should say, when a kid came in the store she perked up.

So I fasted her the rest of the day. No more puking, normal bowels. Just fed her a few finger-servings of honey, got her to drink a few licks by the evening, plus an ice cube. I kept a close eye on her.

She definitely felt better this morning. She had a couple reverse sneezing bouts, but I kept them short so she wouldn't get queazy (imagine how you feel after a big coughing fit). Found out if you plug their nose they'll swallow, which relieves the irritation. Not sure why it's happening, there's no definite cause, and some types of dogs do it because of the shape of their head (all that wacky breeding). But an unusual bout can mean all sorts of thing. Fed her a light meal of Honest Kitchen Embark, with HK Preference, a little coconut oil, fish oil, and Wholistic Pet.

So when I got to work I got some Animals' Apawthecary Ol-Immune (olive leaf, ginseng, echinacea), to combat whatever it is - will give it with meals for the rest of the week. As the day went on she looked better and better, so I think we're on track. Had a normal size meal (same as breakfast). Will try to remember to give her a little dose of homeopathic detox tonight.

Very worrisome to have mystery problems in your dog!

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Starting Off Odd

It just so happens that my first post is on a day when my dog had an odd dinner:

  • 1 cherry tomato - an appetizer picked from the garden
  • 1 chicken egg - picked from the nest (we have 4 hens)
  • A small spoon of raw tahini
  • A slight squirt of honey
  • A couple spoonfuls of grated zucchini
  • A teaspoon of Wholistic Pet Canine Complete
  • A sprinkle of Solid Gold Holistique kibble (perhaps to satisfy me as much as her)
I think it's good for dogs to have odd meals. As long as they're healthful. This meal wouldn't sustain her too well over the long term, but it's a good light alternative on a hot day, just to offer something different.

I got inspired yesterday reading Juliette de Bairacli Levy's Complete Herbal Handbook for the Dog and Cat. She's pretty much the originator of modern natural feeding for dogs. She pioneered the use of kelp as a supplement, and other herbs. All based on what she learned travelling and seeing what worked for traditional folks. After all, "pet food" is a modern industry which produces unnatural food - well marketed products that have little resemblance to what dogs are designed to eat.

Raw food diets for dogs are primarily based on a prey model - recreating a carcass. Levy is interesting because she adds on to that, advocating the use of grains (rolled, flaked, and soaked, especially in raw milk). This is fed seperately from the meat/bone/veg. As the title of the book indicates, she also advocates the use of herbs as food and medicine. Describing her suggestions, well, just read the book. It's a classic. She's a classic, having begun her Natural Rearing writing in the 1930's. I have to say, her plan certainly has the test of time behind it, with many generations of animals raised on it.

It's become so natural for me to be open to new ideas of feeding my dog. I can't imagine just feeding dry food and thinking it was the best thing to do. It may be adequate, but it's not optimum. And it's not hard to feed an optimum diet. The rewards are well worth it, the vibrant health of your pet for whom you are responsible. And it's fun to be able to share - we had "micro greens" yesterday - tiny baby version of all those healthy greens you don't want to eat - it's salad (or deer food as my friend Sergio once said about sprouts) for dog and human alike.