I am at my client’s and we are talking about how her tiny Chihuahua pup loves chewing on deer antlers – the ones made especially for dogs. “Good, good, I tell her, it is great that Katie enjoys these so much! The point I am trying to make is that giving dogs something to chew daily is such a great idea because chewing for them is at the center of their core necessities. As omnivores with a very strong predilection for meat chewing on bones and other food-related materials is what they have done for millennia.
I am not only talking about the need to chew in order to eat. I am talking about the strong need they have for chewing in order to not only clean the tartar off their teeth but as an activity to pass potentially long hours alone – with nothing much to do or simply for enjoyment as some of us like to knit, read, or have a glass of wine. Just for enjoyment. But isn’t true that because we get to do these things (or puzzles, Sudoku, TV, etc.) because of it our lives are better? Richer?
After I left my client’s I am on a mission to make both Deuce and Rio avid antler chewers. Moreover, if a tiny Chihuahua can get into those antlers with gusto my two dogs will too, I proclaim!
Don’t get me wrong, both my dogs LOVE to chew and they get ample items on a daily basis to do so.
In fact, it is with a “chewy” how we end the day. It is a clear signal to them that the kitchen is “closed” and we are now gathering to see the last lights in the sky, all piled up on the sofa watching the news or a movie. I too get such satisfaction of seeing my dogs chewing with zest. Frankly, it makes me feel like a good puppy parent, and what satisfaction that is!
Dogs have, of course, preferences for what kind of objects they like to chew. Perhaps is the texture of the item, of course, the flavor and even so, the “memories” that chewing a particular item might produce in a dog. I am thinking here of a favorite bone that has “survived” puppyhood. One that brought comfort and safety to a puppy. I think it is very probable that that same chew thing – or one of the same kind – today gives the now mature dog a sense of pleasure – and that everything in the world is “okay”.
I once heard a wine connoisseur proclaim that there are no “good” wines or “bad” wines, but that the ones we gravitate towards are the ones that we most likely tried at first. Bingo! My utter preference for red wine from Spain – particularly from the Northern part and particularly “Riojas”.
Yes, yes, that is why even one of my dogs is named…. RIOJA! Ole! As a matter of fact, my sibs and I grew up kind of literally, drinking small amounts of wine at both our grandparents. Always as part of being a family and always in the presence of adults. In fact, I would argue the reason behind the five of us growing up to be responsible drinkers was because drinking was (similarly like chews for dog) not seen as a “bad”/hide -to do so- activity. Instead, it was presented to be something one does responsibly and very enjoyable. I digress though…
Bones for dogs: Experiment with your own to find out what he likes. In fact, provide several options so that he also has variety. Variety, truly the spice of life. In my case, I provide Deuce and Rio with consumables such as pig’s ears. (I thank and acknowledge all the animals which body parts my dogs consume so happily for most likely enduring a life of misery and abuse so that people can eat their meat and dogs their bones. This little quiet ceremony makes me feel better, aware and in communion with the suffering of all animals.)
My dogs also get marrow-bones a few times a week. Once these have been “emptied” I fill them back with either sardine, baby food, or even chunks of sweet potato giving their edges a sleek surface that my dogs love especially when frozen.
Now, I am formulating culinary strategies in order to make those elk antlers more palatable for both. In truth, I want them to become antler-junkies! They are good for them as they do not add to caloric intake as the consumable does, quite safe-no small pieces to swallow whole and frankly much cheaper than pretty much any other consumable worth “a chew”.
So far, no luck, but hey, I just started my “experiment”… As of this post, the antler chew has been smeared with peanut butter and then frozen. Of course, they licked them but I found the peanut butter was too “runny” to stick to the antler-bone even after being frozen. It was hard to successfully add enough peanut butter to have these two licking for a while, which is what I need in order to create some fond memories with the bones.
In my mind, I envision coming up with a culinary delicacy similar to those candied-apples that one just has to sink the teeth into because why not!
Today, I think I will add some coconut oil (harder than the peanut butter) which both my pups love and I will “crown” the tips of the bones with some sweet potatoes that they too find to be most desirable.
I love having little goals like this that push my creativity, but more than anything I really enjoy thinking of the many ways that I can continue to enrich my dog’s lives. Everyone wins! They get new “chewy” options and I get the satisfaction of doing something nice for someone I love… and this is no small potatoes!