My dog and her new food

My dog T-dog* is a somewhat bolshie little beast and she does not like it when I travel away from home overnight (I’ll come back to this fact later).

Butterfly Trotsky_3709633210_o copyRecently we (T-dog and me that is) were asked to participate in a trial of a new dog food by the folks over at Yoghurt Plus. The deal was T-dog would eat the food and I would report back on how it all went down.

I was intrigued by the notion of a probiotic dog food that had been developed by a former AFL player.  As mentioned in their press release:

Yoghurt Plus has been developed by John Gould, former Australian Rules Footballer, who played half back for two Carlton premiership sides in the 1960s. John himself owns 10 domestic dogs. Yoghurt Plus is supported by five years worth of scientific studies, conducted by Melbourne University, Victoria, Australia, Murdoch University, Perth, Western Australia and Auburn University, USA. All studies were independent and met the strict requirements of AAFCO. The findings were then substantiated by Professor Nick Costa – Head of the school for Environmental Science Murdoch University, Australia and Dr Robert Gillette- Director Veterinary Sports Medicine Program Auburn University, USA.

I don’t know much about Aussie Rules football, but this guy sounded like a real dog lover to me, and it’s not often T-dog gets invited to review things, so we accepted.

She’s been eating this new food for three weeks now. We were a bit worried about how she would go with a new diet as Staffordshire Bull Terriers have notoriously delicate tummies (which has been bad for the carpet in the past). But she’s scarfing down the stuff quite happily (and sharing it with Roy our other dog). Both of the dogs are looking good on this new diet.

But there was one claim in the press release was proved absolutely true the other day. Namely: “Helps Reduce Stool Volume and Odour – Assists digestion, helps to decrease the potential pathogens in the GI Tract and helps decrease the compounds that can lead to unpleasant odours in stools.”

As mentioned earlier, T-dog is unhappy when I travel and, as a protest, she has a bad habit of sneaking into the upstairs living room and making a ‘deposit’ there for us to find at a later stage.

In the past these ‘deposits’ have been very smelly, squishy and hard to pick up. But I am delighted to report that her last ‘deposit’ powered by annoyance at me for being away and Yoghurt Plus dogfood made for a non-smelly, less bulky and easy to pick up ‘deposit’.

Sure this dog food does nothing to address the weirdly passive aggressive relationship between me and T-dog. But it is living up to its promises and T-dog and Roy have healthy shiny coats and gobble down their Yoghurt Plus with gusto.

The only other thing I would note is that the food has a very yoghurty kind of smell when you open the bag – some people might not like that. But the dogs don’t seem to mind at all.

* that’s her on the left in her butterfly wings


Cool dog monks

In my web travels I came across a monastery with monks that train and raise dogs. On their website they articulate some of joy and wisdom of having a close relationship with a non-human companion. This really resonated with me as I have learned to be more calm, patient and gentle since I started living with my dog companions.

I like what the monks have to say about being authentically human and how dogs can help people achieve this

After all Dog? God? same letters, is this just a coincidence ? Many dog people think that this is not just a coincidence.

As the monks say:

“Although our involvement with dogs spans nearly twenty-five years, we never cease reflecting on the dynamic nature of that connection and the intrinsic role it plays in the life of our community. Dogs are not an accidental element of the monastic life at New Skete, they are at the heart of a vision that sees the totality of life as a finely woven unity to which all of us are responsible.’

To anyone who knows us, this will be perfectly understandable. But to those who do not, the idea of a community of monks living in close relationship with dogs always provokes a lot of questions. We recall a visiting priest who once asked: ‘Why does your community attach so much importance to dogs? After all, they seem to take up so much time, time that could otherwise be spent in prayer and reading. . . Wouldn’t your community be better off supporting itself by a business that is more in keeping with what a monk’s life is supposed to be? Selling candles, perhaps?’

The priest assumed that dogs take us away from our spiritual priorities. In fact, just the opposite is the case. Being a monk has nothing to do with donning other-worldly veneers or conforming to set ideas about what seeking God means; it is about becoming a true human being, and dogs can play a pivotal role in that process. Precisely because they are living creatures, dependent and vulnerable, dogs continually take us outside of ourselves, the fundamental movement of being human and the only way to find God.

To be authentically human means learning to give oneself unselfishly, ungrudgingly, and to one who listens, the very nature of the dog calls this out in a unique and compelling way. In the very routine and ordinariness of a relationship with a dog, through the discipline and responsibility it entails, we learn about ourselves, about nature, about God and the spiritual path we are on in ways that would otherwise be unavailable to us. Without apologies, we have discovered that dogs play a crucial role in our growth in consciousness.”

The Monks of New Skete belong to the Eastern Orthodox Church and are members of the Orthodox Church in America, their book is Raising Your Dog with the Monks of New Skete

Dogs like cuisine too!

A longstanding research project of mine has now provided enough evidence for me to say that my dogs like to eat what we humans might call cuisine. They are Staffordshire Bull Terriers called Roy and Trotsky.
When they came to live with me as puppies three years ago I had never had a pet before (except if you count the guinea pig that got eaten by my neighbour’s dog the same day it came home with me when I was nine).  This meant that I was completely ignorant of dog culture.  So I started feeding them what the books and puppy school trainer said.
But after a few months just started feeding them whatever I happened to be eating.  It did not take them long to adjust to the new food regime.  In fact, I can leave raw meat out for them now but to get them to eat it I have to withhold other food all day before they’ll eat it.

Roy and Trotsky are particularly fond of Thai or Indian food – even eating whole chillies.  They also like a nice potage au bonne femme (leek and potato soup), and a nice roast with roasted vegies is also a favourite.

They do eat raw meat with bones and dry dog food – but it is clear that their preference is for cooked food with a lot of flavour.  I suppose this is not unexpected given their liking for smelly foods (stilton cheese and water crackers is another favourite, as is pate de fois gras with melba toast).

So the result of my three year experiment indicates that Roy and Trotsky prefer human food (preferably cooked with spices) over dog food.  I reckon if these dogs could cook there’s no way they’d eat anything else – luckily for them and me our other pack mate (a human) can cook for all of us.