Monday, December 31, 2012

Bring in a Lucky New Year

Almost every culture has a New Year’s tradition where the people eat certain foods (on New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day) that are believed to bring good fortune in the new year.  These certain foods represent money and progress.  Foods like greens (such as kale, cabbage or sauerkraut, and collards) represent money, while legumes (like peas, lentils, and beans) represent coins.  Many cultures eat pork or sausages because the pig is symbolic of progress (in that the animal pushes forward, rooting itself in the ground before moving forward).  Other traditions include eating fish, rice, grapes, and sweet round cakes (like donuts).   And in some cultures it is tradition to leave a little food on your plate to ensure plentiful food throughout the new year.  

Whatever your family New Year’s tradition may be, you can share the tradition with your dog this year – as long as the food is dog friendly, of course.  The following is a fish dinner recipe from Barbara Laino, interviewed in the April/May ’11 issue of The Bark magazine.  This recipe will make 10 1-cup sized meatballs.  

Midsummer Farm Homemade Fish-Based Dog Dinner

Serving Sizes of Raw Meatballs:
• For a large 50-100 pound dog – three to five 1-cup-size meatballs per day
• For a 20-40 pound dog - two or three 1-cup-size meatballs per day
• For a 1-10 pound dog – one to two 1/2-cup-size meatballs per day
*Remember – this is a concentrated and efficient food source and is power packed. You won’t have to feed as much bulk-wise as with a commercial food; most commercial foods have a lot of fillers.

• 2 pounds of Frozen Fish Fillets
• 1-2 cans of Alaskan Wild Pink Salmon
• 1/4 - 1/2 pound of Beef Liver
• 1-3 Eggs (optional)
• 2 cups of Chopped Veggies (can be any combination of carrots, cabbage, broccoli, cooked squash, green beans, cooked yams, apples, berries, kale, spinach). Do NOT use onions or grapes of any kind.
• 5-10 Cloves of Garlic (optional)
• 1/2 cup of Pepitas (shelled pumpkin seeds)
• 2 tbsp Honey
• 2 tbsp Dried Parsley
• 2 tbsp Dried Oregano
• 2 tbsp Tumeric Powder
• 2 tbsp Thorvin Kelp Powder
• Optional: 1 cup of cooked oatmeal, barley, or brown rice

Alternate putting frozen (frozen items grind much easier) fish fillets, liver, vegetables, garlic, and seeds through a meat grinder. As you grind into a big bowl, add and mix in the canned salmon, eggs, honey, dried herbs, and powdered kelp.

Keep in a well-sealed container in fridge. Scoop out appropriate amounts for your pet.

If you made a very large batch that is more than can be consumed in about 5 days, roll into meal-sized meatballs and freeze.  Then you can just take out whatever number meatballs you need and defrost them a couple days before you need to feed them. Meatballs will last at least 3 months in the freezer.

Enjoy making this special dinner for your dog and have a safe and Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Homemade for the Holidays: Dog Toys

We all know that dog toys can be expensive.  We want the best toys for our dogs, but if you have a rough and rowdy dog, that toy might only last you a week.  All that money spent on the “indestructible” toy, now wasted.  Have you ever considered making your own toy? Maybe your dog does go through toys every week or every month, or maybe you just can’t afford the overpriced toys, or maybe you just want an inexpensive gift for a dog.  Whatever the case, your wallet will appreciate you making your own dog toys. 

Rope Tug Toy

What you’ll need:
            A Tennis Ball (A can of 3 costs approx. $2.50)
            Thread (Dental floss or even a twist-tie will do)
             Masking take
             3 Strand Twisted rope (Approx. $10 for 50ft of rope)
             2 different colored markers
            1 pen or wooden dowel thinner than the rope
             A box cutting knife and a pair of scissors that will cut rope

Because the process of braiding the rope is more easily understood by watching someone else do it, there are no written directions.  For video guided directions, click on this YouTube video on ‘How to make a throwing tug toy’.

Rope Tug Toy Cost
Estimated cost of supplies for 3 toys: $15   Estimated cost per toy: $5
Using all of the rope--Estimated cost of supplies for 15 toys: $35   Estimated cost per toy: $2.33

 Even simpler Rope Tug Toy:  Just buy rope, cut it to the desired length, and knot each end.

 Fleece Tug Toy
The fleece tug toy is much simpler to make and can either be done in a simple braid with knots at each end or into a scoubidou pattern (like lanyard).  Your dog may even find the material more comforting to play with.

What you’ll need:
             1 – 3 ft of Fleece fabric (depending on the size of your dog).  Fleece is on sale this time of year for $5 - $11 a yard.
             A rubberband or clip
              A ruler or measuring tape

*Tip: You can hold the strips between your knees while you braid. 

Because braiding is easier to learn by watching someone else, there are no written directions.  For simple braid directions, click on this YouTube video above for ‘Turning the Ordinary into the Extraordinary’: How to make a fleece tug toy. For Scoubidou (pronounced like Scooby-Doo) directions, click on this YouTube video below for ‘Homemade Scoubidou Tug’. 

Fleece Tug Toy Cost
Will make 4 – 5 toys.  Estimated cost of supplies (for 3 yards at $5.50 per yard): $17  Estimated cost per toy: $4.25

 Stuff-Less Animal Toy
Have you ever felt ripped off for paying for the skin of a toy? Dog toys without stuffing can easily cost $7 and up, which may leave you wondering what exactly you are paying for.  Children’s stuffed animals are often cheaper than that; and they come with stuffing.

What you’ll need:
             An old stuff animal (if you don’t have one, buy one at Goodwill for $1)
             A needle and thread

Cut a small hole in the lining of the stuffed animal, take out all of the stuffing and sew it back up.  You do not even need to sew it back up if you don’t want to.  My dogs will pull a stuffed animal apart, pull out all of the stuffing and play with the remaining skin which used to resemble an animal.  If you would like Whatever you choose to do, you now have a dog toy without stuffing that didn’t cost $7 or more.
Stuff-less Animal Toy Cost
Estimated cost per toy: $1 -$4