You Get the Dog You Need

| June 10, 2012 | 4 Comments

Early morning here at our house, and our two dogs are up and around, campaigning quietly but firmly for breakfast at 6:00am.  They like to play the staring game at this hour.  Having learned that being loud or obnoxious will elicit an angry response, they’ve gone the passive route, and will simply come close and stare—sometimes standing just a few inches away, tail wagging wildly, or sitting on the bed with their noses just a few centimeters from mine.  You up?  Almost?  Didn’t you go to bed at like 11:00? That’s….PLENTY of sleep, right?  Aren’t you hungry?  I know we are.  Wag. Wag. Wag. Eventually I give in and shuffle out to the kitchen to fetch up some breakfast for them, a quick trip outside, and then they can settle back down to sleep.

At that point, however, I’m never able to just go back to sleep, and I’m up to stay.  I love them both, but watching them curl back up and start sawing logs again makes me grumble in a most unseemly way.  But I’ll sit down to read, or meditate for a half-hour, or do some writing (either in my journal or out here), and get over it.  That unwilling early morning time, before the phones ring, before the emails start rolling in, is sometimes my most productive time of the day. Go figure.

I smile on my snoring little dog, who loves food more than life itself.  He swoons over every meal (yours or his) and delights in every last bite.  He dreams about food.  I can see his mouth working in his sleep sometimes, working on a phantom pork chop or leg of lamb.  And that’s why it was such a grave injustice for him to develop canine inflammatory bowel disease, which made any meal a prelude to a lot of scary abdominal pain . . . screaming, shivering pain that scared me half to death.  After several agonizing weeks trying to figure out how to relieve his suffering, I was at the end of my frayed rope. We’d tried veterinary diets, antacids, antibiotics, all manner of things, and nothing was working. A friend suggested that we try a raw diet, “…more like dogs have eaten throughout time, up ’til this century.”

Picturing myself in the kitchen whacking up raw chicken wings and green beans at 6:00am wasn’t exactly my idea of fun, but I was willing to try anything.  After a little research I learned that there are companies now making diets that do the hard work for you. Primal, the brand my little dog eats now, is an example. His food is a mix of raw turkey, sardines, organ meats, bone meal, and various veggies, fruits, and greens, all packaged into little frozen nuggets. Thaw them out, and voila, you have a raw diet. Gone are the grains and fillers and  junk ingredients that were making him sick, and gone are his symptoms.

Strangely enough, he feels even more like my dog than he did before. I mean, check out Primal’s spiel on their products:

“…We use only 100% human-edible meat sources, never any by-products or meat deemed “inedible” or “not for human consumption.” All of our meats, poultry and game are purchased through farms and ranches that take pride in producing wholesome sources of protein through natural, sustainable agriculture . . .”

“Our products contain a variety of 100% certified organic, human-grade, wholesome fruits and vegetables…”

So nowadays he basically eats like we try to eat, following at least a dozen of Michael Pollan’s Food Rules in his little puppydog way.  There was a time in my life when I would have found that a ridiculous indulgence, but no longer.  I’m responsible for him, because he really can’t go shop for himself, though he would if he could (Oh, I can just picture him climbing up to ring the bell at the meat counter).  And even when I’m shelling out the big bucks for his free-range, organic, hormone-free sustainable food, I’m feeling pretty okay about it.  I’ll make up for it somewhere else in the budget, and he will be healthier and happier. Truth be told, if I can avoid this year’s four figure vet bills in the future by feeding him this stuff, I’m coming out ahead in the long run.

The dog trainer Cesar Millan says (stealing from the Rolling Stones) that sometimes, we don’t get the dog we want, we get the dog we need.  I ended up with a dog with a big, big problem—but strangely enough, he’s brought me closer to my own ethics around food, and around balancing the pleasure of good eating with right living.  Good dog.


Category: Food, Organic, Pets, Sustainable

Comments (4)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Session Man says:

    Great article! It’s amazing what we’ll do for our beloved hounds, isn’t it? Totally worth it!

    • greenhedonist says:

      A few years ago you could never have convinced me this was “normal” pet ownership, but nowadays, it really feels like the right thing to do. There is so much junk food out there for pets, and we wonder why half of them end up with cancers….anyway, I’ll save that soapbox for another day. Thanks for your note and love your web address! 🙂

  2. Holly says:

    Great story! I can picture them waiting not so patiently for breakast or holding numbers for their turn at the butcher counter.

    I’m glad my cat only speaks feline and cannot use the phone. I’m sure she would call for pizza delivery, “Extra anchovies and hold the crust please”.

Leave a Comment