Animal Planet called the other day. They received an anonymous tip from my phone number about chicken legs that attack. They were interested in doing a series replacing their series about sharks.
Hm. Think. THINK. THINK! Who could have called from my telephone and complained about scary chicken legs?
"It wasn't me. I pity da chicken who isn't fearful of a Sibe! Nom. Nom. Nom."
Let's see. Here are some raw chicken legs I prepared for the dogs a few weeks ago. The one on the right is for Loki. He hasn't had any luck eating raw meaty chicken bones, so one of the legs is hammered and broken up to help him along.
The one on the left is for Juno, who has no trouble devouring those whole legs.
"WTF is THAT? It's red and scary!"
Looks like we found our anonymous caller.
"Big Boy, why are you freaking out? These chicken legs are the bomb!"
"See first you put one on the floor to piss off Mom so she has to mop the floor. Then you put the other in your mouth and chew it up to clean your toofers."
"Be sure to switch sides so both sets of toofs get nice and clean!"
"And she calls ME the barbarian! Look at her chomp into that beastly thing."
How can a dog, who goes from eating a raw recreational bone like this (taken from last year):
Suddenly be terrified of a raw chicken leg:
"I'm so not goin' near that thing! It's gonna attack me!"
Seriously Internet, can he get any further away from his dinner bowl?
I made the switch to a raw diet about a year after adopting the dogs. Juno's teeth were horrific when I first adopted her. They were coated with tarter, completely, and she was just shy of 1 years old. No amount of good grain-free kibble, bully sticks or greenies helped. So I made the switch to raw. At the time, I found out I was moving here to Switzerland, so I didn't bother joining a co-op to get deals on raw meaty bones and instead bought pre-made patties made from crushed meat, organs, bones, with a few veggies and fruits. I also used Honest Kitchen to supplement with veggies and fed a recreational bone once per week. Juno's teeth cleaned up within a month. Both dog's breath became amazing too. It's always been a pleasure to receive a kiss from them.
I always thought I'd make the jump to feeding raw meaty bones and the original BARF diet (rather than frozen BARF patties) when I moved and could shop appropriately. Apparently Loki had other plans:
"Hmm. I don't know what this is. It's a little scary lookin'! I don't even want my paw to touch it!"
Now let me say that Loki eats plenty of cooked chicken and raw chicken in his old chicken patty mix I had fed before. So it wasn't the chicken. I tried hand feeding only the meat.
"Um, this is not flavored with rosemary or lemon butter so I think I'll wait for the main course. Thanks anyway."
Anyone who is familiar with the BARF (Bones and Raw Meat) diet knows that the Raw Meaty Bone is the back bone (no pun intended) of the diet. The bones must be raw and not cooked as cooked bones are brittle and can cause damage. The dog is served a raw meaty bone every day and it's supplemented with other meat, a certain percentage of veggies, fruits and offal (organs) either in one meal or over a course of the week. For example on one day you'd feed a RMB and offal. On another day you'd feed RMB and veggies and so forth. Or you could just feed a specific percent of each in every meal.
But I could not for the life of me get Loki to eat Raw Meaty chicken bones--which is the cheapest you can buy and essentially the bulk of what one would buy for a weekly diet. Come to think of it, back in California, he wouldn't eat a chicken neck either. It was obvious he enjoyed his ground meat and bone patties. And here he would eat ground beef and cooked chicken. The raw bones are what give bulk to the digestion in addition to cleaning their teeth. Too much meat, not enough bone, is well, not fun picking up on the other end, if you catch my drift. Given that Loki was having a dickens of a time adjusting here, and had allergies to the pollen, I really didn't want to rock his boat more by stressing him more with "skipped meals" in order for him to break down and eat whatever I gave him.
I panicked. I needed a reliable, staple foodsource I can give daily. If he wasn't going to eat basic chicken I had no idea what I was going to feed because finding cheap source of beef and bones was difficult. There was no way I was going back to kibble from the success I've had feeding raw. My last resort would have to be me griding meat and bones down. Mr. Wild Dingo laughed at the notion of me grinding meat.
I totally expected to find really good stuff here. I was told "Europe is so progressive in pet care." Ha! What a joke. No pet food store close to me sold anything remotely close to BARF or even decent grain-free kibble. Some European pet food companies on the Internet claimed to be "natural" or "raw" but there is always quite a bit of "cereals" in their ingredient mix. With no attempt to explain "cereals" there was no way I was going to buy into it. Sure I feed wheat to the dogs, usually a piece of bread or pizza from my plate, but I don't like making it a staple ingredient in their diets. I mean, I'd love to make ice cream the staple of my diet, but that's just not practical is it?
After scouring the Web (and I mean scouring, countless hours, days and weeks), I found Buon Viando, a meat manufacturer who sells pre-made ground sausages made of raw meat, bones and offal for dogs and cats. The company stands behind the BARF diet and truly believes in it for cats and dogs. They offer a variety of Swiss raised beef, chicken, rabbit and horse. The company is located near Lucerne but delivers to my canton once per month. A representative returned my call to answer all my questions about their products, how they were packaged and sold. She was very polite and appologized several times for her poor English. As if. Her English was perfect. My German begins and ends at "Danke."
The only catch was they deliver in quantities of 22 kg boxes (or 44 sausages of ground product). For free delivery, you need to order 3 boxes. I didn't have a freezer that would fit that much product, so we ended up buying 2 freezers and sticking them in the basement. The price is very reasonable at about $3-4 per meal. That's actually not too bad considering the amount of time it would take for me to find a reliable cheap source, then take the time to grind meat weekly or monthly.
When I placed my order, I expected to wait 2 weeks before they delivered on their normal route. Two days later they called and said they could deliver right away. I had to quickly use up all the meat in our freezer that I bought to hold us over to make room for the delivery. I made my first bolognese sauce for us to use up the ground beef. I also ordered what I thought would be 5 veal bones. They were 8 CHF (essentially $8) so it made sense to me that if they were large enough, it would be one big bone. After all, in the states you could buy a femur or knuckle bone for $5-$6. But this is what I received:
Eat your heart out BARF feeders! TEN veal bones for $8. Since I bought FIVE, that meant I had 5 bags of 10 (or 50 total) raw meaty veal bones. Yummy.
And look who's eating this Raw Meaty Bone:
"Ya, this is delicious. What's the big deal? I'll eat this no problem-o!"
I wonder if he knows this is the same thing as the chicken leg, but it's, um beef. Don't tell him!
This is what one of the sausages looks like before I prepare it.
The above is the beef version. I also bought a chicken and a beef/heart combination to make up for 3 boxes.
Above is the chicken mixed with random vegetables, Megaderm (a concentrated Fish oil with Omega 3 for his skin allergy), his shen calmer (his cracker kryptonite), and a small dose of extra virgin olive oil. Olive oil is a source of vitamin E which helps activate the Omega 3. Both are excellent for dogs with itchy skin inflammation.
I'm no longer feeding the Missing Link in the photo. Though it is excellent and has some awesome ingredients, it's main ingredient is Flax seed, which can be questionable in dogs with skin allergies or inflammation. When I first fed Missing Link, I gave it with fish oil and their coats were awesome. But without fish oil, the flax seed is probably not a good idea and can cause inflammation and itchy skin. Who knew? Not me. Fish oil for humans or dogs is extremely hard to find here. I finally found a great source at reasonable price.
Yes, I am THAT mean and make them wait before they eat.
"Oh My DOG! This is delicious!"
Looks like success to me.
Loki cleans his plate. In fact every night now, he's back to being excited about dinner and not cautious at all about it attacking him. It would kind of stink if you thought your dinner might eat you before you ate it, huh?
Well, almost clean. But I'll take it. Juno usually cleans up whatever he leaves behind. Usually he doesn't leave this much.
I confess, feeding a BARF diet isn't easy at first. There is a method to the madness and there is such a thing as feeding too much bone or too much meat. And I'm still working out the right amounts. I even found a great holistic German online store that sells organic treats, herbs and oils that also sells ground up beef bone to add to a meat diet. I add that into their mix as well. In addition to cleaning teeth and providing bulk for their poo, bone provides a source of calcium. So if you feed raw meat, you really absolutely MUST feed ground bone or a source of calcium to the dog.
Recently, I had some left over Lamb chop that had bone in it in the freezer. So I figured I'd take a shot and see if Loki would eat it and gave it to them with only half a Buon Viando sausage mix:
"Oh my, this is quite delicious mom!"
"THAT'S what I'm talkin' about!"
Like the Sibe wouldn't fall for a raw meaty bone of any caliber.
"Oh my dog, I've died and gone to doggie heaven! I don't think I'll ever have to worry about chicken legs attacking me again!"
I have to admit, the dogs love it. I also feed cooked brown rice with it some days because brown rice is a natural anti-allergen. I'm relieved to have a staple "go to" meal I can feed the dogs and supplement it with lots of other stuff I can find at the store on sale. I plan to continue raw meaty chicken bones for Juno since she loves them, and will also include beef soup bones, lamb or anything else I can find. Buon Viando provides tripe and heart as well. I admit I hate feeding tripe or organs as I'm easily grossed out by them, but I do in limited quantity. Instead of relying on tripe, I add in crushed fresh veggies which mimics what you may find in green tripe. (Eeewww!) In addition, a few days per week, instead of a whole meat/bone sausage mix, they get a half a sausage served with salmon, eggs, mackerel, trout, lamb or whatever else I can find to keep the variety going. Loki totally digs salmon and eggs. Juno is a little fussier and only likes the yolk of the egg. Figures.
I'd like to add that this post is in no way to criticize how you feed your dog.
Several years ago, I was a vegetarian. I'm not now due to health reasons, ironically. I also didn't like cheese. I never have. It's not a health thing. I just never liked the taste of it. That made my eating habits a bit noticeable and people would tease me about it, calling me picky. But nothing infuriated me more than people calling attention to my diet and critiquing it. Choosing a diet is as sacred as choosing a religion. I would rather a dog be in a loving safe home and fed the cheapest kibble on the market than starving on the street. I fed kibble for years and chose a really good grain-free brand. I suppose if I was in a bind, I'd find a good grain-free one and do it again. But I have so much success at raw I don't want to. And the dogs really love it.
Just look at their chompers:
We used to call Loki's teeth the Clooneys because they are so white just like George Clooney's teeth.
Truthfully, Juno's front canines still have a fine line of tarter near the gum line, but her molars are clean. Considering her teeth were completely brown when I got her (wish I had a photo, even Mr. Wild Dingo remembers and he never lies), I'll take this as success.
Both dogs love their recreational and raw meaty bones (except for Loki's weird aversion to raw meaty chicken bones). And nothing gives me more pleasure than to hear them crunch up a bone. But no, I would never criticize how someone feeds their dog. With one exception. Nothing makes me sadder than a person who's chosen to make their dog a vegetarian. I can't believe it, but there are people out there that do it. While nobody can deny a dog is an opportunistic omnivore, they do have canines, which are meant for eating meat. I don't think there's any logic in the world that can convince me that a dog can thrive on a vegetarian diet. But if you have it, feel free to share it.
Sorry Animal Planet. There's no story here. I'll be sure to hide my cell phone from the cracker.
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"Your project is guaranteed to meet superior Siberian standards or I will fatally masticate it. You have my "woo" on that!"
"I keep your project safe from crows, coyotes, and flies. I prefer to be paid in salmon treats and tennis balls."
"I manage the treat jar & the staff's daily payroll of cookies and bones. The staff is excellent at math and let me know when I come up short."