Lazy-Mom Dog Treats

I’m extremely picky about what I feed my dogs. I worked in vet clinics for many years, and managed a holistic practice the last five years of my career. One of my specialties was canine nutrition. I keep Mozzie and Oliver–and every other dog I’ve had for the past dozen-plus years–on a diet of half grain-free kibble and half raw food.

But finding good grain-free treats is tough. They’re also very expensive. Dog-parents have to balance budget versus the time it takes to make your own treats, and recipes are also an issue. Most have whole wheat flour or other grains in them, and others might be grain-free but are messy, smelly, and a huge hassle.

Mozziver dad day

Did you say TREATS?

I try to be a conscientious dog-mom, but I’m also extraordinarily lazy. If it involves a lot of ingredients and prep and clean-up, forget it. But I’ve found the perfect solution. Two ingredients, and totally healthy!

Here you go…

  • One pound RAW ground turkey
  • One RAW sweet potato

That’s it.

Chop the sweet potato into chunks. Toss it in the food processor and chop it to smithereens while the twitchy Mozzie flees the room. Add the ground turkey and process until combined. If you need Mozzie, he’s hiding in the back hall.

Make into patties an inch or two in diameter in the dehydrator, ignoring the poodle at your feet hoping you forget he’s there, trip over him, and drop the raw treat mixture. I dehydrate on 145 degrees for 5-6 hours until they’re crispy and break easily, with maybe a bit of chewiness in the middle.

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Turkey and sweet potato treats

I store in the fridge and keep a few on the counter and break a bit off to give the boys when they come in from outside.

You can switch it up a little also. I tried ground beef, but it dries too oily, so I stick with turkey, but today I made a batch with green beans and blueberries instead of sweet potato. It was a lot more moist and squishy than the sweet potato, but they came out well. They took a half hour or so longer in the dehydrator.

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Turkey, green bean, and blueberry treats

If you don’t have a dehydrator, you could also do in the oven, on the lowest setting. I’ve never done this, but you probably better keep an eye on them and check them. Maybe turn them after a couple of hours.

And that’s all there is to it! A whole bag of treats lasts me 7-10 days and costs only a few dollars, as opposed to a small bag from the store costing $8-12, depending on brand and size.

You can also simply cut chicken breast or tenderloins into strips and dry them, or beef liver. These make great training treats.

Do you have favorite, easy, low-hassle dog treat recipes? Please share!

Congratulations, It’s A Poodle!

Surprise poodles are the best poodles.

One year ago today, I woke up as the mom of one six-month-old golden retriever puppy. The plan was already in progress to find him a nice young adult golden or Labrador retriever brother.

Within eight hours, previous plans were tossed right out the window and we welcomed an almost four-month-old standard poodle puppy into the family.

Colonial Capital Humane Society posted this photo and a description, stating he required immediate rescue.

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I texted Tom to ask how we felt about standard poodles. I knew I loved them, but figured I should at least have the courtesy to ask before informing him we now had one. He responded positively, and the wheels were in motion.

The fabulous Lisa Lee of CCHS left work to go take possession of the puppy. She even stopped by Tom’s store and told him she was there with his “son.” Now, Tom had never met Lisa before, and our son and his wife were currently on a plane back to Minnesota from a cruise vacation, so he was a bit perplexed. It was sheer brilliance on Lisa’s part, though, because if any part of Tom was having second thoughts about adopting the poodle-puppy, the point was now moot. He was immediately a poodle-dad.

meeting oliver

We met Lisa after Tom got off work, and this is when I met the puppy we would name Oliver

The poor pup had had a very traumatic few days, and was a bit overwhelmed. Within a day, though, he and Mozzie were playing and bonding, and adopting Oliver was probably the best pack-building decision we’ve ever made.

 

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Oliver will be 16 months old next week, and Mozzie will be 18 months on the same day. We’re looking forward to many years of fun and frolic with our two boys.

Happy gotcha day, Oliver! We love you!

 

Rescuing the Rescued Poodle

Oliver the Wonder Poodle has been with us almost a year. On his gotcha-versary, expect a lengthy post about everything he’s taught me about poodles in that time. But one very amusing thing happened around six weeks after he arrived and opened my eyes to the ingenuity, curiosity, and unflappable nature of the breed. He was five and a half months old and a bit over thirty pounds at the time, and too smart and intrepid for his own good.

My mornings follow a very structured routine, because I am Not A Morning Person, and varying from the expected process results in chaos and throws me off for the rest of the day. Things must not happen out of order, and nothing requiring independent thought can take place until I’ve been up at least an hour. If I ever experience an early morning house fire, I’m doomed.

Having two puppies made this a challenge, but we were doing pretty well. They wake me up every morning–really heckkin’ early–all happy and wiggly and adorable, they get breakfast, I get coffee, and everybody is set.

morning mom

I know this is dim and grainy, but I did warn you they wake me up early. This is what I see every morning when I open my eyes. Not a bad way to start the day.

One particular morning in early April, I took the dogs out then popped back inside to unload the dishwasher and let them run off some puppy mania. A few minutes later, I noticed Mozzie at the sliding door. He had on his “worried ears,” and his eyebrows clearly communicated “you’re not going to like this, but I swear I had nothing to do with it.”

I looked for Oliver, but no Oliver was to be found. I put my shoes back on and clomped down the deck steps into the yard, but still didn’t see a poodle puppy. Mozzie decided to be helpful–because he’s a golden and that’s what they do–and pointed out a hole under the lattice surrounding the deck.

Aha.

Investigation quickly revealed the wayward poodle under the enclosed deck. For reasons known only to him, Oliver had dug under the lattice, wriggled under the deck, and now couldn’t get out because the angle of the hole was wrong.

Thankfully, he wasn’t upset about it. If he’d been freaking out, I’d have had to go all mama-dog and rip off the lattice and probably die of splinter poisoning. But Oliver knew he wasn’t in immediate danger, and I had everything under control. Poodles have a lot of incredible abilities, but mind-reading isn’t one of them. This was fortunate, because if he knew what I was thinking just then, he’d have been a lot more concerned.

He sat there looking at me, confident and unperturbed. I, however, was fairly perturbed. I hadn’t had coffee yet, and I avoid physical exertion at all times, but it was evident I would have to dig the little monster out of there before my coffee-drinking could resume.

I located the garden rake, which would have to do, because while I was sure we owned a shovel, it was probably in the shed, which was padlocked. I had a key to this, of course, but figuring out which one it was would require more mental dexterity than I have before coffee.

Rake in hand, I set about deepening the hole and extending the angle back under the deck so Oliver could crawl out.

Dig, dig, dig. Scoop, scoop, scoop. Pause to catch my breath and look at the unrepentant poodle sitting there smiling at me through the lattice-holes.

Oliver occasionally attempted to help, but didn’t seem to be very effective. I was calling bullshit on the whole thing, because he got under there in the first place, and those paws looked pretty capable, but all he could do was scratch around, occasionally nibble at the dirt, and stick his naughty-but-adorable head out.

Mozzie mostly paced nervously and wandered over from time to time to assess my progress and make sure nobody was in trouble. He’d done his “come quick, Timmy fell down the well” part, which was apparently as involved as he planned to be in the whole matter.

Finally, I was sweaty and my back was cramping, I had dirt embedded in my knees and under my nails, and I probably had spiders in my hair, but Oliver managed to squirm out under the lattice. I immediately dropped a log in the hole to prevent further incidents. Mozzie was ecstatic, because his buddy was available for chasing again and I had stopped scowling and muttering.

Having puppies was not on my to-do list before I got these two. I’d been declaring emphatically for the past ten years that my puppy-wrangling days were behind me. I could not have been more wrong. Despite the house training and crazy antics, these two goobers have brightened my world and made my life a lot more interesting.

I just prefer it if they save the interesting stuff for after I’ve had coffee.

Let’s Meet Mozziver

I view people without dogs with either pity or suspicion, depending on whether their doglessness is because they love dogs but due to circumstances beyond their control can’t have any, or because they simply don’t like dogs. The former is tolerable because it can someday be remedied. The latter…does not compute, and I don’t think I know how to even have a conversation with those people

The week between when our beloved Great Pyrenees, Brody, died in November 2016 and when we found Mozzie and brought him home was the only time I’ve been dogless in my adult life. It was surreal beyond description, and I hope I never experience such emptiness again.

Since Mozzie and Oliver will be the stars of this show, as well as the brains of the operation, I thought we should talk about how they came to be here. As of right now, Mozzie–a golden retriever–is 17.5 months old, and Oliver–a standard poodle–is 15.5 months old.

To set the stage, in 2016 we had two dogs. Darwin was an 11-12 year old golden retriever, and Brody was an 11 year old Great Pyrenees. They were dogs number 11 and 12 in our lifelong pack. Darwin was our sixth golden (the fifth adopted through RAGOM in Minnesota), and Brody was our first Pyr, though we’d had two Pyr mixes in the past.

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Darwin and Brody

2016 turned out to be a catastrophically shitty year. Darwin was diagnosed with cancer in June, and lived only six more days. Despite being rescued at age 3 in a horribly neglected and emaciated condition, he was the happiest, bounciest, sunniest, orneriest dog in the history of ever, and losing him was crushing.

Brody had been declining for a long time, with more and more trouble with his back legs, and the day before Thanksgiving, we knew it was time. He could no longer stand or walk on his own, and at 100 pounds, we were limited in our ability to help him.

Suck X 1 million.

A few years earlier, I’d consulted the crystal ball and thought this might happen one day, and we tried to adopt a third dog, but Brody and Darwin vetoed this notion very adamantly. So I knew there would be a time I had zero dogs, though my canine-obsessed mind had trouble comprehending this.

Then it happened, my brain imploded, and things went a little crazy. The local golden rescue wasn’t getting in any young adult males (I’d applied and was stalking their page on an almost hourly basis), and neither was lab rescue. I’d toyed with the idea of a smaller breed dog, maybe a corgi or small lab mix or a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, but not having had a golden since Darwin died, it soon became evident I needed a golden in my life.

Then I saw an ad. A family had three puppies left over from a litter. They’d been supposed to go to new homes in October, but the area experienced severe flooding around then, and some puppy families backed out due to dealing with their own flood situations or being unable to reach the puppies. They were 3.5 months old, past the usual adoption age…and I had to see them.

Long story short, I found Mozzie. I had not wanted a puppy. I swore up and down, loudly, that I did not want a puppy.

Turned out I did.

Whatsit

Once Mozzie (our 13th dog and 7th golden) had been with us a month or so, I knew the only thing that could keep up with a puppy was another puppy. It damned sure wasn’t a 50-something-year-old woman who spends most of her waking hours on the couch with her laptop.

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Don’t let the cute fool you. He was a 900-mile-an-hour puppy whirlwind two seconds later.

And the search began. Golden rescue again, lab rescue, hoping to find Mozzie a kind, confident big brother.

Once again, the universe laughed at me. I think it might have peed itself a little.

The morning of February 13, 2017, I awoke and began checking out rescue listings, as usual. There had to be a nice, calm big brother out there for our Mozzie. Then I saw a post from Colonial Capital Humane Society. They’d been asked to assist in re-homing an almost 4-month-old standard poodle puppy. He was already in his third or fourth home, and the people who had him wanted him gone.

I applied. I messaged. I was immediately approved, because seriously, who is a better qualified puppy-mom than me? Nobody, that’s who.

Oh, I did check with Tom first. We hadn’t discussed standard poodles only because we never imagined we’d find one in this area. Finding anything that isn’t a pit bull or some sort of hound is already hard enough. All my years in vet clinics, I’d known poodles. Also, a dear friend had one, and she also had a golden when she got him, and it was a great match. Tom’s uncle had a black male standard. We were sold.

But I wanted a day or two to prepare. I’d need another crate, had to get my brain prepared for a second puppy, when I had sworn I didn’t even want one puppy. Shows how much I know.

The hitch was if we wanted him, we had to take him immediately. The people who had him had informed CCHS that they were out of puppy food and weren’t buying any more. They had also posted online and were planning to hand this puppy, who they called Scarecrow because he was afraid of everything, to the first person who knocked on their door.

Thank doG, the CCHS volunteer we were working with was having none of that. She left work and charged over to the house, literally taking this puppy out of the hands of some random person who was more than likely planning on using him to make “doodles” that could be sold at a tidy profit.

meeting oliver

So, dog #14 turned out to be standard poodle #1. We named him Oliver, and let me tell you, that dog is not afraid of anything, even a little bit, unless it’s not being the center of attention. He and Mozzie became bestest buds, and I’ve never had a more bonded pair  of brothers, ever.

The only drawback is I’m outnumbered and outsmarted. Goldens are incredibly smart, learn anything quickly, and are eager to please. Poodles are strategists, their intelligence is off the charts, and they never miss anything. The two of them together could found a mid-size nation or destroy civilization, depending on their mood.

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Since I work at home, and leave the house only under duress or promises of dirty martinis, I’m with these two 24/7. They’re my entertainment, my sounding board, my “good morning snuggles alarm clock,” my bathroom monitors, and my security system. I don’t know what I’d do without them.

What about my theory of always having at least three dogs, so I never end up in the zero-dog situation again? I think I have to let that go, because I can barely keep up with these two, and they get along so well I don’t want to do anything to upset the biscuit wagon.

So, there you have it. Mozzie and Oliver. Mozziver. The Direwolves. Poodledactyl and Goldensaurus. My boys.