—and for our dogs that day is every day. Something happens to people whose children have left the nest. They have excess time and love to lavish, but the objects of their affection have moved on, and sometimes the beneficiaries of this change in their lives are the family dogs. We’ve had four shelter dogs in our married life, and they’ve all been wonderful animals that brought joy and companionship to our family. Mac, our cranky sixteen-year-old terrier, had nearly starved to death before being found and taken to the shelter, and we had to feed him throughout the day for two months to get him to a healthy place. His digestive system never fully recovered, and so he has always been incredibly picky about his food, sniffing it suspiciously in what we refer to as “taking it to the lab.” Even when I make his easy-to-chew rice and tuna mush, he sniffs it with great concern, then gazes into the far distance, kind of like Sydney Carton in “A Tale of Two Cities” just before he ascends the scaffold to the guillotine. “Tis a far, far better thing I do…” and then he accepts his fate of homemade dogfood. But cooking for Mac seems a small thing in exchange for his faithful companionship. Our other dog, Auggie, is 73 pounds of fur, surrounding a tiny brain. This is what happens when you get a dog off of the internet. I saw his photo on Petfinder, that siren song to animal lovers everywhere; the post said that he had active heartworm and needed immediate medical treatment, AND he was in a kill shelter in Ohio. How could this tragic situation be allowed to go on? From the photo, he looked to be about twenty pounds (his weight was not specified). By the time he arrived, thoughtfully delivered by shelter volunteers from Ohio (who probably laughed all the way back to Zanesville), Auggie was a foregone conclusion. He follows me worshipfully all over the house, and looks soulfully into my eyes with complete devotion. He’d make the perfect Direwolf for a Disney princess. Auggie’s the only dog I’ve ever known who hates the outdoors; if it’s raining or snowing or hot, he’s very happy to use any room in the house as his bathroom, thank you very much, and no need to trouble ourselves with braving the elements. The good news is he’s only five, so we’ll have Auggie to enjoy for at least another ten years. If you’re wondering what this post has to do with entertaining, the answer is: nothing. But animals can be a source of joy in our lives, as entertaining should be a source of joy and warm feelings. Adopting dogs from a shelter has been an important and positive experience in our lives. You think you’re doing them a favor, but it’s actually the other way around. So for our furry friends, here’s a recipe for dog biscuits from Cesar Millan. (Cesar, if you read this, have I got a challenge for you!) The dogs love them (well, Mac accepts them), and it’s very easy to mix together and throw in the oven.
Basic Dog Biscuits Makes about 20 biscuits, depending upon the size of your cookie cutter
Prep time: 45 minutes
2 and ½ cups whole wheat flour (substitute regular flour or oats if our dog is sensitive to flour)
½ teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon beef or chicken bouillon granules (can substitute beer or chicken broth)
½ cup hot water
Optional add-ins: eggs, oats, liver powder, wheat germ, shredded cheese, bacon bits
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Dissolve bouillon in hot water
Add remaining ingredients and knead dough until it forms a ball (about 3 minutes).
Roll dough to ½ inch thickness
Cut into slices or use a cookie cutter to make shapes with
Place on greased cookie sheet or silicon baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes.
When cool, store in closed container.
Keeps for several days. In the photos you will see that the biscuits are two different colors. The dough made with beef bouillon comes out darker than the dough made with chicken bouillon.