As Hope wrote in her GollyLog Blog a while back, there comes a day when you wake up and realize “I’m a dog person”. Me? I hit that point quite a while ago. In fact, I probably realized it the day in Grade Four when my teacher asked what I’d done on the weekend, and I replied “I helped my Gran get her bitch bred”. I still remember my discomfited teacher telling me “not to use that word”, and my puzzlement over just what word she meant. Bitch was never a dirty word in our house, and the statement “She’s a grand bitch, that one” was pretty much the highest compliment I could imagine my Grandmother giving.
Being a dog person doesn’t bother me – in fact, I’m rather proud of it. There still exists a fine line I’d prefer not to cross, and that’s the line seperating me from the crazy dog people of the world. Don’t make me define that for you, either – you all know what I’m talking about. The crazy-nutjob dog people – the ones who you look at, and think to yourself “Shoot me if I ever get that bad”.
This morning, I had an epiphany of sorts – the realization that I was treading dangerously close to no turning back, “gonna find me in a trailer with my corpse gnawed by the 47 dogs I owned”, “carry my dog in a purse under my arm like Paris Hilton” crazy. It was really, really that bad.
Sailor has been a bit off her food lately, which is no surprise for a dog who’s going through her own hormone induced insanity. She’s also, unfortunately, one of those dogs with a sensitive stomach, unlike Tula, who eats rocks for fun, and Penelope, who carried a lump of dirt in the house last night for a late night snack. Sailor doesn’t take kindly to changes in her diet, and the addition of anything slightly strongly seasoned or overly fatty leaves her with an upset stomach and even worse case of diarrhea. Her raw diet, which consists of fresh chicken and turkey, and vegetable patties, suits her perfectly. It gives her firm stools, a glowing coat, and a nose that finally doesn’t look like it’s got a crusty coating on it. Unfortunately, with motherhood came Sailor’s complete lack of interest in all things raw, so I’d been boiling her a chicken breast and supplementing it with cottage cheese and the occasional scrambled egg. She was willing to eat it, but not with a great deal of enthusiasm, and only if I fed it to her by hand.
Yes, you read correctly – by hand. Bits of torn off chicken? Not so tough to feed by hand. Scrambled egg? Messy, but doable. Cottage cheese? With curds? That’s pretty bad – pretty bad, and pretty messy, but hey – if it makes Sailor eat, who am I to complain about some messy fingers? After all, she’s feeding and caring for the next generation of my dogs. I owe her. So maybe, just maybe, I can be easily guilted into a bit of hand feeding right now.
Saturday night was tough. Sailor was up and down all night, obviously not feeling well. She wasn’t drinking well, either, and I had the sinking feeling her milk wasn’t flowing as fast as it could be. Whether it was all of the rich foods, or a piece of chicken that was a bit off, Sailor was definitely a sick little girl, and a little girl with puppies to feed and care for. Come Sunday morning, I was truly worried about how much food she was getting, and how much more she needed. Time to try something more extreme.
A visit to the not-so-local pet supply store resulted in a conversation about appetite teasers. “Try these raw patties” was the first suggestion, squashed when I explained that her lack of interest in raw was why I was there. Ditto dry – I already feed a few of my dogs one of the best dry foods on the market, OriJen. Sailor has no interest in it, either. “Tripe!” the salesperson finally announced triumphantly. “Green tripe – nutritious, dogs love it, and it’s still a raw food”. Perfect! I grabbed three large cans, only to have the salesperson hesitantly tell me that I ‘might want to try the smaller cans’. Huh. Pet supply people aren’t known for suggesting caution when it comes to purchasing, and the big cans are usually a better deal. ‘Well, a lot of people don’t like to leave it open in their fridge’, she explained somewhat cryptically.
Whatever. Small cans it is, then. And the marketing sure looks good – check out this labelling:
Made from pure green lamb tripe taken from lamb raised and fed on the grasslands of New Zealand. Lamb tripe is easy for puppies to digest and provides them with all the important nutrients of green tripe, helping them to grow healthy and strong. Also for dogs that are allergic to beef products. Tripett has added glucosamine and chondroitin to promote healthy joint cartilage. Dogs have an instinctive desire to eat nutrient-rich green tripe. When they eat tripe, they receive nutrients from grasses and grains that have been already processed naturally by the cow’s stomach system. Also present within the tripe are naturally occurring gastric juices, amino acids and other digestive enzymes not found in other pet food. These gastric juices and enzymes aid pets in digestion to help pull the maximum amount of nutrients from their diet. Amino acids are necessary for muscular development and the gastric juices are excellent cleaners for teeth.
Ingredients: New Zealand Lamb Tripe, Garlic, Vegetable Gum, Menhaden Fish Oil, Glucosamine, Chondroitin.
Well, gosh. Who could say no that? I was tempted to get some for myself. The real test was waiting at home, and I could hardly wait to open a can for Sailor this morning, and see how she reacted. At 5:00 am, Sailor woke me so I could take her outside. Coming back in, she sniffed around her bed in a way that I cautiously assumed meant she might be hungry. Score! I cracked open a can of tripe, and that’s when it hit me – the stench. The eye watering, backed up sewer stench. No wonder people don’t want to keep open cans of it in their fridge – the creeping odour would infect everything in a hundred yard radius. Mmmm. Tripe infused carrot cake.
The smell of the food almost knocked me off my feet, but Sailor was eyeing the can up with interest, so I dumped it into a bowl. Impression number two? This stuff is as disgusting to look at as it is to smell.
Grey, slimy chunks, floating in pools of greyish goo, all flecked with black and greenish brown bits and pieces of … whatever. Finely diced goo, sitting gloppily in the bowl, and exuding the scent of a two week old road killed raccoon. Never have I been more grateful for the box of eggos I was planning to raid for my own breakfast. Of course, I also don’t get a huge thrill out of chewing dirty socks, so I can’t really assume that Sailor’s culinary preferences are the same as mine. I placed the bowl down near her, and encouraged her to give it a try.
Like her mother before her, Sailor has perfected the bulimic super model head toss. This finely honed maneuver involves a half hearted attempt at flipping over the food bowl, repeated four or five times, and then followed by a few reluctant snatches of food. Repeat for a couple of minutes, and follow up with a mournful stare that seems to say “Do you want me to get fat? Look at my ass. It’s huge”. Like all over protective mommas, my role at this point is to wheedle my reluctant little diva into eating just a few more bites for mommy.
“Eat a little, Sailor. Just a bit. Mmmm, look. It’s tasty”. I’d usually pretend to eat it myself at that point, but there was not a chance in hell I was putting that goo anyplace close to my face, let alone my mouth. Sailor was unconvinced, and fluttering her lashes at me with a look that said “I’m so weak with hunger, I can’t possibly keep my pretty pretty princess eyes open another minute”.
Sigh. OK, there’s that tipping point I was talking about, way back at the beginning of this rambling entry. How much do I love this dog, and how much do I want her to eat?
Yeah, you know where this is going. It’s going straight to me grimacing, and sticking my fingers into a bowl full of some of the grossest glop ever fed to a dog. Fingers dripping, I offered a taste to Sailor, and she happily licked it all up. In fact, she ate most of the can. About 3/4 of the way through, I truly believe she looked at me and started giggling. “Haha, sucker!You’re feeding me minced lamb stomach by hand. Respect my authority!”. There I was, staring into the abyss that separates “I love my dog” from “I’m a crazed slave to my dog’s every whim”, and realizing that the abyss was staring back. It’s official – I’m a crazy dog person.
I ended my morning scrubbing clean, not just the bowl, but the can itself, for fear its tainted stench would infest my entire house. I then scrubbed my hands, and followed up with a half gallon of lemony scented hand purifier. Three hours later, I could still smell tripe on them. It’s the scent of defeat, my friends. The scent of defeat.