Tip of the Month, July 2012: This One’s for the Dogs

July 30, 2011. One of the best days of my life, ever. That’s when my sweet little Lille doggie chose us to be her forever family.

We had been looking for a dog to adopt for a couple of months, but unfortunately things kept falling through with the dogs we wanted to adopt. We definitely wanted a rescue as well as a smaller dog, not much more than 20 pounds or so. And then our fateful day arrived. We had an appointment at Saving Grace Animal Adoption (more about this wonderful organization at the end of this post) early in the afternoon and had seen a couple of dogs on its website that looked promising.

When we arrived, we were greeted by 20-25 very excited dogs – what a welcoming committee! Lots of wagging tails and happy doggies just wanting to be picked by a loving family. We pet numerous dogs on our way to the back of the courtyard, where the smaller pups are kept in a gated area. While I was trying to catch up to Brad and Gabe and Lexi, a new dog appeared out of nowhere. She jumped up and put her paws right above my knees and we locked eyes. I knew right then and there she was the one – it was love at first sight.

I humored Brad and the kids as we looked at some other dogs, but it didn’t take them long to realize that Lillie was for us, even if she was going to weigh a bit more than we wanted. Especially Lexi – she was onboard with Lillie immediately and I think Brad was, too. It took Gabe a little more time, but in the end he was hooked.

And Lillie has ruled our home ever since, especially after she learned to navigate all of our stairs!

Food and Treats

Molly, the wonderful owner of Saving Grace, advised us to spend a little bit extra on “good” food to ensure a healthy digestive system. She told us to read the labels and make sure the first ingredient was meat, followed by other things such as whole grains, vegetables and fruits.  She said to avoid fillers such as corn, wheat and soy. Lillie likes the dry Blue Buffalo or Innova brands, mixed with a spoonful of some sort of wet food. And it helps with her poops – when I feed her the good stuff she poops less and goes less often than with regular food.

It’s been years since I had my last pooch, a wonderful little Pomeranian named Foxy that my sister rescued and I wound up adopting, so I had no idea about all of the harmful and even lethal treats coming out of China until just recently. Lillie is a little carnivore for the most part – no carrots or green beans for her, unfortunately. After a recent digestive issue that resulted in a trip for Lillie to the Emergency Animal Clinic (and $398.00 later, but thnkfully she was OK) I decided to take better control of the treat situation and start making some of my own, where I could control the ingredients. Enter the food dehydrator.

I bought the Nesco American Harvest Food Dehydrator & Jerky Maker and so far have been quite pleased with it. I figure it will eventually pay for itself, as I will be making various jerkies for Lillie and the kids, and drying some of my fresh herbs for the winter with it as well as some fruits such as apricots, bananas, apples, etc. So far I’ve made some chicken and beef teriyaki jerky. It is so easy to make – here’s my recipe for the chicken jerky, which Lille especially likes.

Chicken Jerky Ingredients

  • Boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • Seasoned salt

Preparation

Place chicken breasts in the freezer for 45 minutes or so – this will make them easier to slice.

Remove all of the fat from the breasts and slice them thin (1/8 of an inch or less.) Lightly sprinkle with seasoned salt (dogs don’t need a whole lot of sodium, but the salt does help remove some of the moisture from the chicken.)

Place the chicken on a foil-lined baking sheet that’s been coated with a thin layer of cooking spray. Bake in an 350 degree oven until it reaches an internal temperature of 160 degrees. This kills any harmful bacteria that may be lurking in the chicken.

Place the chicken strips on the trays of the dehydrator, taking care to space them out to reduce dehydrating time. Cook according to your dehydrator’s instructions.

I removed the jerky after it was dry and crunchy and could break apart easily, but not completely brittle (6 hours or so, but I only dried 2 breasts.) I placed it on some paper towels to soak up any remaing grease (there was little to none) before putting the strips in a plastic bag and then in an air-tight plastic canister. This jerky keeps for a few weeks, more if you store it in the fridge.

Party!

We decided to throw Lillie a 1st anniversary “adoption” day party to let her know how special she is to us. In addition to getting some fresh beef jerky, we also presented her with some dog treats made in the USA as well as some awesome homemade cookies from Phydeaux, my favorite pet store in Raleigh (there’s one in Chapel Hill, too.)

She also got a deer antler (better than the rawhide bones), some squeaky toys and a dog treat dispenser that you can fill with various treats, pasta or peanut butter.

So Lillie, thank you, thank you sweet doggie for making the past year so happy for our family. Even with eating shoes, a computer mouse and window sills, just to name a few. 

You are so hysterical when you run around the house at full speed, sliding into walls and just being a silly dog. Or getting on your back, wriggling and playfully growling until someone rubs your tummy.

You’ve been a great Wolfpack game day dog!

And endured being a cute little Halloween Honey bee!

You ignored many negative comments when I had all of your fur shaved for your “summer ‘do” (no, Mommy will not make you be naked again, even though I thought you were still cute!)

You have been the subject of great art!

And you’ve captured my heart and soul. I love you, Lillie girl!

I’m sure all of you dog owners feel the same about your babies, so make sure you feed them well! If you have any homemade treat recipes, please send them to me – I’m always looking to give Lillie something new.

Shout out: If you are thinking about rescuing an animal please consider Saving Grace. According to its website, Saving Grace is “a non-profit, 501-C3 organization dedicated to helping homeless animals in our community find permanent, loving homes where they will be treated as family members for the rest of their lives.” I recommend this place highly, but if it isn’t convenient for you, please consider any well-run organization that rescues animals. You’ll be glad you did!

Eat, drink, and be merry. And feed your doggies well!

Follow Kel’s Café on Twitter at @kelscafe

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3 Responses to Tip of the Month, July 2012: This One’s for the Dogs

  1. Mandi says:

    Happy Anniversary Lillie! Remember the Dudley beer you found for Dudley’s first anniversary? I call it his birthday because he was about a year old when I got him so October 2nd is both a birthday and anniversary. Funny, you blogged about dog snacks and I mentioned your blog in the blog I posted earlier this evening.

  2. E says:

    Had not seen this post. Great info! Thanks for sharing it 🙂

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