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.
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