Isn't that the most beautiful picture in the world? My mommy says this might be a boring blog entry because it's all about what I eat, but I think it's one of the most important posts because I LOVE MY FOOD.
My mama Snow ate a raw diet when she was growing me, and when I was weaned, I started on canned pumpkin and yogurt gruel. It made me very dirty but I really liked to eat it! Mama Clare called it "pumpkin neck." You can see my pumpkin mouth here, when I was about 5 weeks old:
Mama Clare thought I would be the biggest puppy from my litter because all I liked to do was eat and sleep. Shortly before we went to our forever homes, Mama Clare switched us to Eagle Pack Holistic Select adult kibble with a big dollop of pumpkin (we LOVE pumpkin!) because not everyone is up to the raw diet. It is a LOT of work in the front end, but raw diet advocates say it all pays off in the BACK end, if you know what I mean!
Anyway, I was always a good eater and kibble was no different. I pretty much inhaled it. We ate adult kibble because as large-to-giant breed puppies, it's really important to grow us sloooow. And on top of that, we needed to be trained to be calm before and after eating so we don't get bloat. So I would sit in my crate for half an hour, eat my kibble soaked in warm water (in my crate), then wait another half hour in my crate before I got a potty walk. Mommy did this three times a day! Now, I like my crate more than most puppies, since I associate it with food and treats A LOT, but even this was getting a little ridiculous.
After Mommy and P-Daddy had me for about a month, they realized their dog food mail order bills were about $75 a month, and this was just for a 3-month old pup! Also, I made a lot of poop for such a little guy and it was really smelly. And I farted a lot - pretty much any time I got excited, agitated or worried. Mommy and P-Daddy had a lot of fun blaming me for all their bad smells. So since Mama Clare and Aunt Cindy all fed their kuvasz on raw, Mommy decided to try it a little. She'd read some good things about the raw diet (also caled "BARF" for Bones and Raw Food) at NJBoxers.com and here, so she thought she might give it a shot.
The food probably costs about the same or a little less now, mostly because in NYC everything just costs more. I've been on raw for 4-1/2 months now and I love it. P-Daddy complains about the work but he's learning to use the food processor, and we buy our meat in bulk now so it works out ok.
Here's the general rule of thumb on how much to eat - for baby puppies, about 10% of current body weight per day, divided into 2-3 meals because we can't really fit that much in our tummies and we need to learn how to chew. Another rule of thumb is 2% of expected adult body weight. So I get around 2 lbs of food a day now, in 2 meals; sometimes a little more when I am very active or when I give my mommy and daddy big googly hungry eyes. I'm probably leaner than most of my brothers now. P-Daddy thinks Tex looks big and manly, but I like to tell him that my svelte figure will fill out in the end. Besides, Tex was lifting his leg long before I was - I just started this week and still only do it about 50% of the time.
Each meal is a variation of this:
approx 1 lb raw meat, with bones
1 c. veggie mix
1 T. canned pumpkin
1-2 T. lowfat yogurt
1 egg with shell in the mornings
supplements (joint supplements, fish oil, probiotics/digestive aids if necessary)
my staples are RAW chicken necks and backs and chicken leg quarters (which have a drumstick, thigh and piece of back), bones on, skin off.
If there is a sale on whole chickens, Mommy will give me a whole one in pieces, with organs, over a day or two.
I also get pork necks, pork rib tips, lamb bones for stew, beef parts, ground beef, ground chicken, turkey wings, organ meats (chicken livers, gizzards, beef liver, etc.) and most delicious of all, white fish with bones, all from FreshDirect or Esposito's Pork Shop, my favorite place to visit in NYC. Pork needs to be frozen for 3 weeks and then it is safe to eat raw.
My humans get a weekly delivery of organic fruits and vegetables from Urban Organic (I know, they sound like such Bobos with their mail order organic whole food silliness, don't they? But I get yummy food as a result, so you won't hear me complain.) Whatever veggies they don't eat or don't like or starts to look a little limp when the next delivery is coming, goes into the food processor and gets ground up for my veggie mix, sometimes with a little olive oil and apple cider vinegar. They make a pile and freeze it in plastic Chinese food takeout containers (why don't they ever share that delivery food with me??) for later use. Here's a rough list of what goes into my veggie mix; it varies week by week (yum):
I love leafy greens and will eat them in pieces as a treat when Mommy's making veggie mix. Also carrots and cucumbers. Mmmmm.
(when Mommy is feeling lazy she will sometimes mash frozen vegetables from the supermarket AS LONG AS THERE IS NO CORN)
The links above talk about the benefits, but there are a few main ones from mine and my humans' point of view:
1. Human-grade food at roughly the same price as high quality kibble. Also healthier and cheaper for my humans because sometimes they eat my chicken (after cooking it first, of course) instead of bad takeout/delivery food.
2. Less waste, less odor. The veggies were things that would get thrown out otherwise. But more importantly, because there are no fillers and my body digests this stuff very efficiently, my poo is smaller, easier to pick up in NYC, degrades faster in VT, and doesn't smell so bad. Pork makes it a little smelly, though. I'm probably around 80 lbs. now but I make about as much poo as a dog half my size or smaller. Mommy really appreciates this because she can do a very effective 1-hand poop scooping instead of a dual-hand plastic bag pickup. I don't fart anymore either. Or maybe they don't stink anymore, which is good enough for my folks. Also, my breath has no odor, which is good when I am licking my peeps or panting in their faces because I want them to wake up.
3. Chewing. I learned how to chew my food at an early age. It still amazes my people that I can down a chicken leg quarter in about 2 minutes, but I do CHEW it. Crunching through those bones keeps my pearly whites, well, pearly white, and works off a lot of energy. It also helps keep me from chewing inappropriate things, like shoes and furniture. I still chew a few things, but not that much. In my almost-6-months living with Mommy and P-Daddy, the only impermissible things I have destroyed are 1 window crank-handle and I left a few teeth marks in an outdoor restaurant's bamboo chair leg (Mommy left a BIG TIP that time for sure). Otherwise I stick to my bones, chew toys, pizzles (bully sticks) and the corrugated cardboard boxes I get from time to time.
4. Other health benefits. The omega-3 oils are supposed to help me learn faster and keep me more focused and calmer. I have to say I am one smart, good-looking puppy, though at least some of that may be due to my good breeding as well. I know how to open my pen and crate doors from both directions as long as they are not latched (I'm working on the latched part!!!), I stand patiently for my seat belt and know how to get in and out of the car when I'm supposed to, and I know how to undo my car seat belt in dire circumstances. I also remember people once I've met them once, and I love to play hide and seek. I also learn new commands in minutes, though whether I choose to obey them is up to me. I will work hard if properly motivated (cold cuts, bacon and cheese make me do anything). My coat is very thick and soft although it smells a little like fish sometimes.
(ed.- Clearly, Omega-3 oils, despite being touted as the wonder supplement, do not encourage obedience, humility or modesty)
HOW DID I GET STARTED?
It takes about 24-48 hours to detox, so we waited for a quiet summer weekend in Vermont. I was 3 months old and I had my yummy pumpkin and yogurt, and a chicken wing or two. It took me a while to figure out I was supposed to use my sharp little puppy teeth to chew it. It also took me, like, 20 minutes to eat that first wing. I really didn't drink very much water since there is so much more water in raw food. Then Mommy and P-Daddy took me out every 2 hours to see if I would do anything. Remember, this was when I was potty training, too, so we were always going in and out and in and out.... Finally a day later I made a teeny tiny poo, then everything stabilized and we got back on schedule.
When I was teething I was really no different from before. Since I got to chew so much, most of my puppy teeth came out when I was eating.
I now have a routine for meals, and it takes me less than 5 minutes to eat. As soon as my bowl comes out I am sitting in the kitchen waiting for any little pieces of food anyone wants to hand feed me. I love licking the spoon with the yogurt and pumpkin on it. Then I heel with the food bowl as we walk to my crate, and sit again while my food bowl is put in my crate. Once Mommy or P-Daddy says "ok" (sometimes they make me hand target or do some other tricks first), I open my crate door and go in and CHOW DOWN. First I lick the egg up, then I start licking the veggie/yogurt/pumpkin mix. Eventually the meat gets in the way and I pull it out of the bowl and leave it on the floor for later (this is why I am fed in my crate). I finish my "salad," then eat my meat. Once that is gone I lick the floor of my crate and my bowl for any additional food, and then finally I eat the eggshell. If Mommy and P-Daddy have left the room, I give them a yip to let them know I'm done. Then I sit and wait for them to come let me out. They take the bowl and wipe down my crate, though they don't really need to do that since I licked every single food particle already. The only variation on this routine is if there is liver or fish, which gets eaten immediately.
All this talk about food is making me hungry. Off to see if I can wheedle a marrow bone from Mommy.