alpoAlpo, anyone?
A friend and her husband, Peter, once worked as servers for a caterer. Her husband was Welsh. As he was dishing out beef goulash one day, a guest asked: “What’s in that stuff, Alpo?” And Peter, (who never heard of Alpo) politely replied, “I’m not sure sir, I’ll go check with the chef.” The chef was not amused.


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I feed people too, like these tea sandwiches at Gracie’s birthday party.

Fine dining goes to the dogs

After growing up feeding my dogs either Alpo or Mighty Dog, the choices today seem endless. But when I opened a can of top-notch puppy food, the look and smell just didn’t seem appealing. With recalls galore, I figured I could do better.

So, another perk of having a dog… if the power ever fails at my house, Paul and I can survive on Gracie’s food. That’s right, I’ve eaten dog food, and I liked it. It’s homemade and quite tasty. I have no idea if Gracie has a favorite since she gobbles them all down with equal gusto.

Here are the ingredients: First, the main protein varies between chicken, turkey, beef or tilapia. And the carbs are either freshly-cooked lentils or garbanzo beans, and sweet potatoes or pumpkin. For the rest, it’s spinach, broccoli, cottage cheese, plus olive oil, and sometimes an apple. I just cook it up, puree it, and stock the freezer. We add some fresh cottage cheese and a slice of sharp cheddar at mealtime. I found the recipe at the Ottawa Dog Whisperer.

Good eats!

Good eats.

I consulted with Gracie’s vet, and was told all’s well if I add a handful of kibble at each meal to ensure she gets adequate vitamins and minerals. (I also mix in some probiotics with her breakfast). After she developed a UTI last winter, we now serve it all up with a 1/2 cup of Trader Joe’s organic low sodium chicken broth. I thought about making the broth from scratch — but really, even a dog mom like me has limits!

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Don’t hump me because I’m beautiful

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Chillin’ at the dog park, ball close by.

Eagerness, excitement and a healthy dose of anxiety are all part of the off-leash, dog park experience. Or at least it is for me. Gracie seems to take it all in stride. After passing through the gauntlet of sniffing dogs at the entrance, we make our way to the less populated, open expanse of grass at the far side of the park. There’s plenty of shade where Gracie chases her ball, and occasionally another dog joins in the pursuit. When she finds a true compadre, the puppy play and doggie-wrestling is pure entertainment (she goes for the ears and front paws for the take-down).

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Is it me or the ball?

But wherever you hang out, there’s an off-leash etiquette that is universally understood by owners: no humping allowed. It’s not necessarily a boy/girl thing, more often it’s about who’s top dog – literally. And when it comes to dominance, Gracie is Switzerland. She’s no wuss mind you – but for her the dog park is about chasing balls and dogs.

Every now and then, there are those dogs who want to show their affection or dominance. And somedays, it seems she’s the girl all the other doggies want. Of course, I like to assume it’s because she’s so damn cute. While Gracie appears to think they are trying to make a move for her tennis ball – the best game ever – she won’t tolerate being humped, and will politely move elsewhere, or else there’s the rare instance when she might even snap to let them know, no means no.

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Gracie and her buddy, Georgie.

After one handsome dog got the message, he seemed smitten, and stood guard over Gracie to ensure no others got close as she proceeded to happily shred her tennis ball without interruption. Putting another’s needs before your own – could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship!

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Release the Kraken

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Destruction complete.

When you open the door, a creature emerges, and what ensues may seem calm at first. But chaos is just one sock, or towel or crate mat that’s not properly stored – and destruction is imminent.

Consider the endeavor. Parents bring stamina and resilience to the baby-rearing roller coaster. There’s no denying that shaping a good person is a downright heroic effort. On the other end of the spectrum, raising a high energy pup can be exhausting and challenging too. And just like kids, dogs are a reflection of their parent/owner, and you will be judged based on their behavior. I don’t have kids, so the pressure is on.

Gracie is one smart and social pup. She holds her own at the dog park, but will roll over and gently give up her belly for a small child to pet. Then, there’s the other greeting – jumping up and clawing people excitedly (sorry, tell her: off, or sit) along with the incessant barking to alert us of every movement outside – be it a bird, squirrel or heaven help us, another dog close by. Even our surround sound TV can set her off. If I was to evaluate how we’re doing so far, we’d probably earn a B- or C. Yep, we need to make more time for training our girl.

Let sleeping dogs lie.

Let sleeping dogs lie.

We relish the crazy puppy romps, running circles around the coffee table or weaving in and out of the shrubs outside. Her energy seems boundless. And then there are times she’s over-tired, and we are at our wit’s end. There are rare instances when she passes out on the couch, other times she circles close to her crate, and we know it’s nap-time. Usually, we recognize the need for sleep before she does. And it’s nice to be able to close the door and heave a sigh of relief. The crate is her respite, and ours too.

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Loves water. No bowl required.

triple_500Watering the garden has been a challenge, but in a good way. It gets complicated with Gracie leaping into the spray, at every direction and height. But mostly, because her antics have me laughing so hard. Wherever there’s water – she wants in.

While the dog days of summer have come and gone, they’ll be back in a flash. Sprinklers beware.

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