|Did you ever notice how what you once thought
bizarre behavior first becomes tolerable,
then acceptable, and
finally completely normal over time?
that way with dog food. ... I think I'm out of control.
I was a boy, we had a man-about-town kind of German Shepherd dog named,
"Gyp". I never did ask how he came to have such an odd name. I suspect
it was short for "Gypsy". He had followed Dad home one day looking so pitiful
and skinny that we adopted him into the family. Gyp ate with us, or, I
should say, after us. Leftovers were his only fare. When we ate fish, mashed
potatoes and stewed tomatos, Gyp ate the same thing. Occasionally
he also would feast upon buttered bread, salad, ice cream and even a little
beer if any had been left in a glass somewhere. Bones of all kinds belonged
Gyp was a happy dog and a dear friend.
He lived to a ripe old
fifteen years of age. ... Good coat. ...
No hot spots. ... Clear
eyes. ... Never limped unless,
of course, he was returning
from one of his crusades. ... No torsion.
... He visited the vet
only for his yearly Rabies shot, an event
for another story. I guess Gyp was ahead
of his time. You know, he died in good health, a goal to which we all seem
to aspire today.
mind, dog food (I mean store-bought bags of dry
nasty looking meal) was meant to be consumed
only by dogs whose owners never had leftovers or by Basset Hounds on some
mysterious training ritual in anticipation
of an upcoming
hunting season. ... Gyp seemed to agree.
have passed now and, as I look around, I appear to
have abandoned this outlook on dog food
totally. "Why?", I
wonder. ... It just sneaked up on
me, I guess.
innocently enough. I remember seeing this cute
advertisement on television in which a curly
tiny men driving a little buckboard through
the kitchen. The
next time I saw the stuff in the supermarket,
I brought a bag
home to see if "Villy", another German Shepherd,
had watched the commercial. He wolfed it down and looked for more.
I didn't really feel too good about ignoring Villy's feral roots though,
so I soon began adding a can of commercially canned meat when there was
none left after our supper. Soon a bag of kibble and a dozen cans of whatever-was-on-sale
became part of our regular weekly grocery purchase.
became more exotic in stages. We acquired a
second Shepherd and began showing her. ...
Perhaps one of those oily supplements on the shelf next to the catnip would
give "Heika" an edge in the ring. ... We tried it. ... It seemed a
shame to give something really good for
dogs to only one of
them. After all, Villy deserved good
health and a shiny coat
became more familiar with other breeders at the
shows, we began to get more inside nutrition
tips. We didn't
need the supplement at the supermarket.
Angela's Pet Heaven
handled "Boost-a-Pet", the leading edge
canine conditioner. ...
Only $24.35 a bottle. ... Our unconscious
transformation gained momentum. ... Angela also carried "ACX-47",
that powerhouse of dry dog foods, and "Hawk", the canned meat made from
various creatures all of whom had died natural deaths. The winner of the
Westminster Show had been on that diet, so Heika and Villy went on it too.
show adventures and kennel grew, the privileged
information continued to flood in.
"Don't buy worm medicine
from the pet store. ... Buford's Feed
'n Seed has "Swine
Wormer" that's the same thing. ...
Only pennies a pound!" ...
Once at Buford's we were pleased to discover
that he too sold
"Hawk" but by the case and much more cheaply
than we could get it from Angela.
supper time at our house had become an operation
that would put the average pharmacist to
shame: oil for coat,
vitamins, herbs, Thyroid medicine, heartworm
medicine, cans of
"Hawk", cups of ACX-47, and pinches of Garlic.
Let soak for
twenty minutes, stir, and serve in stainless
did the formula become that one evening I
neglected to include the food. ... The dogs
didn't notice. .. We
did go through one simplification period
though. A fellow doggie person, who also dabbled in chickens, discovered
that we could buy chicken necks and eggs that had been rejected for human
consumption from a nearby commercial poultry operation. For months,
weekends were spent boiling the eggs, grinding chicken necks, and mixing
them into our own dog food. This soon became too intrusive to feed exclusively,
so we eventually returned to our old ways. Just as well, our dogs were
healthy but would howl whenever we passed a KFC.
morning I graduated from college I had no idea that
I would some day spend my leisure time muscling
sacks of ACX-47 around in the garage while
eggs unfit for human consumption boiled on the stove, and my bride ground
chicken necks. ... I had really changed. ... I can't even remember when
I stopped worrying about using the can opener to open both the dogs' "Hawk"
and my supper. I think it was when I began to enjoy the subtle taste of
those liver morsels in the clam chowder that I lost it. ... Although it
may have been the Christmas party.... We ran short of "pate de foie gras"
and I didn't have a second thought about throwing in a few tins of "Fancy
Feast".... Kitty never missed them.
today I thought we were finally back on track. We
have eliminated the middle men entirely.
Dry dog food is
delivered monthly by truck directly from
the manufacturer to my garage. The cans come from a different manufacturer
different truck on a different day. Buford's
Feed 'n Seed still
supplies the worm medicine, but ... Well,
just judge for
the Ginseng we had shipped from Hong Kong and
mixed it with the kibble from New England.
I dumped in some lamb from New Zealand along with Buford's worm medicine
and the vitamin supplement. Next came the bottled water from France, all
warmed to precisely 110 degrees Fahrenheit, stirred, and portioned neatly
into stainless bowls.
approached the kennel area with the evening's
repast, no dog jumped or barked in anticipation
... They were
sharing a possum that had wandered in. ...
I think we should go
back to leftovers.