Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Fad Diets

Think about the last time you were in a school cafeteria. As you looked around at the tables riddled with milk cartons, wadded up napkins and plates of cold food, you might have noticed a group of boys all gathered around their leftovers concocting a nasty mix of butter beans, pizza, burnt french fries, salsa, and mayo and looking for someone to eat it. I refer to these kids as the mad scientists and their only goal is to create the nastiest pile of goo out of whatever was served for lunch that day. If you happened to miss them the last time you visited a elementary-, middle school- or high school-aged child, be thankful.

I couldn't help but think about these mad scientists as I was making the final preparations for my girls' big diet switch this week. Yes, I've come to the dark side and today we officially moved to a BARF/Raw diet. For my non-hound readers, this diet consists of feeding the girls 50% raw meaty bones (chicken backs, chicken necks, turkey necks, beef ribs, etc.), 20% raw muscle meat (pretty much any meat that doesn't have a bone in it and beef heart is considered muscle for some reason), 20% veggie mix, and 10% raw organs (liver, green tripe, etc.).

So, why in the world would I do this? Isn't kibble easier? (yes, especially when I feed them at 5:30 am) Isn't this expensive? (not compared to the premium kibble I feed) Aren't bones bad for dogs? (not unless they are cooked)

Really the main reason I decided to make this change was seeing the physical difference in the many dogs at coursing events who are fed raw (I would guess 90% of them are). Their coats are shiny. Their teeth are amazing. Their breath is non-offensive. Their weight is perfect. They have tons of energy. In general they are the picture of health. I could really see a big difference between what my dogs looked like and what their dogs looked like. After a lot of research and a lot of reading, I decided to take the plunge.

Right now we don't have a big freezer to hold a bunch of frozen meat for the girls, so I can't really buy in bulk, but I did purchase 35 lbs of chicken backs and necks on Sunday and spent the evening weighing and packaging them into individual portions so it would be mindless no matter who is feeding them. Some seasoned raw feeders may call me a wuss because I wore a glove to handle all that raw chicken, but I just didn't want to get it all under my nails. I don't mind touching it, just not 35 lbs of it all at once.

Then on Monday I spent time making the veggie mix, which will make up 20% of their diet. Dogs do not digest the nutrients in veggies unless they are pre-digested or broken down in some way. So in order to replicate the way a dog would eat the stomach contents of it's prey (which is how they would get these nutrients in the wild) you whip out the handy dandy food processor, pretend to be a mad scientist and mix a bunch of raw veggies together and throw the goo in the freezer. I had to take a picture of these radishes that I got to pulverize into the goo for the girls. Aren't they lovely?

Now, I hated sitting next to those mad scientist boys when I was in school. It always made me sick to my stomach to watch them mix a bunch of crap together on their plates. Heck, I hate going to those giant southern buffets that serve fried fish, spaghetti, tacos, collard greens, and ham all right next to each other. The mix of smells kind of put me over the edge. I was a tad bit concerned about how I would handle mushing up all those veggies, but I did okay until I added a bit of tuna to make it more appetizing for the girls. That almost made me lose it. I think I made enough for at least a month, so the next time out maybe they will like the veggie goo without the fishy smell.

The girls thought mom hung the moon as I went to the fridge at 5:30 am to serve breakfast. They handled their chicken back meal easily. It took them about 5 to 7 minutes to finish and they have been satisfied all day so far, something I was a bit concerned about. Also, no upset tummies. This is the first day of a lifestyle change and not a fad diet.

Maybe my mastering of the veggie goo will allow me an honorary membership into the mad scientists club. While I won't sit with them at their lunch table, I'm thinking my stomach may be more iron-clad after a few more weeks of feeding raw meat and organs. Then again, let's revisit this if I ever get the nerve to serve up a plate of green tripe.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Sweet Dreams

I was eight years old when the movie Gremlins was released. For weeks prior to the opening night of the movie I cuddled with my fluffy Gizmo at bedtime and enjoyed my books on record (which came in my Hardee's kids meals) on my Fisher Price record player. I couldn't wait to see this film. Well, 1984 suddenly became the year of sleepless nights for my family thanks to my night terrors which ensued after seeing this horror movie which was so keenly marketed to children. To this day I cannot watch this film without having a bad dream.

It got me thinking the other night about my girl's dreams. If your greyhounds are like mine, they are vocal dreamers. When they are dreaming there are little yips and barks that creep out of their bared teeth. Their ears flick up and down. Their legs twitch. Their tails wag. Their eyes roll around inside their heads (See Seka's demon look to the right). Upon occasion, their dreams have awaken me from a dead sleep.

I always assumed that my pups had only good dreams. That all those dreamy barks came from their visions of chasing bunnies through fields of clover on a sunny day. I suddenly realize that this may not be the case. Seka could easily be dreaming of me trimming her toenails. Roxy could be reliving whatever it was that makes her do that submissive thing she does. I can only hope that all the wonderful and fun things that I do with my girls day in and day out provide more good dreams than bad.

The first step in having sweet dreams is being warm and snuggly. Most of the time, Seka sleeps bed with us. But Roxy sleeps on her bed in the floor and we keep it a bit cool in our house. I ordered little miss skinny mini a pair of four-legged jammies from Pam at Cozy Coats and More. These arrived in the mail today and I immediately put them on our tiny girl for a fashion show. Roxy was a flash of pink as she celebrated her new found warmth with a speedy lap around the backyard. Like a little kid in a new favorite outfit, she won't let me take them off of her. Seka keeps looking at Roxy as she prances around the house with mixed emotions - a tad bit jealous and a tad bit happy that she isn't wearing them.

While Gremlins is forever banned within 500 feet of my personal space, I am going to have to assume that the girls' dreams so far have been good. There's not been any jumping up and screaming in the middle of their naps. Running into my arms in a blind fit of terror in search of protection from the imaginary creature lurking in the room. Nor have they flat out refused to go to bed in fear of what they may find behind their eyelids. Unless the bunny in their dreams turns around and begins to chase them, I think we should be okay.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

I Wana Be Sedated

Every greyhound person who has ever taken their pups out in public has heard crazy comments - and usually it's directed toward their dog.

There are the classic comments including, "What a beautiful great dane?" and "I've only seen gray greyhounds."

The less tactful usually say to the dog itself like, "Don't they feed you enough?" - this one is obviously directed at Roxy in our family.

And who can forget my all-time favorite comment that came from a nice mountain man as we walked Seka on the Greenway Trail in Boone, NC, who plainly asked - "Is that there one of them high-speed dogs?" Why yes it is.

I thought I had heard it all when it came to comments about my greyhounds from strangers. That was until the Steeplechase at Callaway Gardens this weekend. SEGA has had a Meet n' Greet booth at the Steeplechase for several years now and this year we had 18 greyhounds in attendance. This event is a lot of fun for both humans and hounds. Food, wine, lots of people who love to love on the dogs, wine, a beautiful location, wine, incredible horses jumping hedges at incredible speeds - did I mention the wine?

I think it might have been the wine that lead to one of the most unbelievable comments about our dogs. Our SEGA tent was set up next to the Terrier Races. Yes, 30 or more Jack Russel Terriers barking, yapping, jumping, going nuts in general for about 4 hours straight and all the while our dogs are just relaxing and napping or greeting people without a sound. So as you can imagine, it was quite the juxtaposition between the two breeds.

While talking to a couple about our dogs, the woman said, as plainly as if she was asking if they had fur, "Do you guys have your dogs sedated?" I had to ask her to repeat herself, as I was afraid I misunderstood her. I mean who would think 16 people would drug up 18 dogs and bring them out in public? But she repeated her question and anxiously awaited an answer.

I almost told her that the only sedation that occurred here was for the owners, but I took the high road (don't ask me why). Maybe she just wanted to be as relaxed and carefree as our dogs. To be laying 20 feet from yippee dogs without her nerves standing on end. To nap for hours as people peek at her in a little pen. Maybe she wanted to know what we sedated them with so she could get some for herself. Why else would someone ask such a question? Congratulations, lady - that one will be recorded in the greyhound book of stupid questions!