National Cook For Your Pets Day

Kat

Today is a holiday that I can relate to. Today is National Cook For Your Pets Day. Our dog, Kat, gets homemade food everyday but for her it is always something to celebrate!

Kat gets dry kibble but we supplement it with a small dish of homemade ‘soft’ food in the morning. We started this when our previous dog, Casey, was getting up in age and was no longer able to manage enough dry food to keep her at a healthy weight. We wanted to provide her with the best nutrition possible so we studied the subject and started her on a special home cooked diet.  Of course, she had to share with Kat and once she was gone we kept up the practice. 

Casey

We follow the same basic recipe every time – meat, vegetables, and a little filler cooked together with saltless broth and one package of clear gelatin.    (The gelatin is good for her joints.) For meat we generally use a portion from a package we are using for our meal – hamburger, stewing meat, steak, chicken, turkey, or pork loin.  Occasionally we will buy her a small package of lamb or chicken livers.    Kat, like Casey did, loves vegetables and must sample each as we are chopping them.   Her favourites are carrots, asparagus and kohlrabi.  For filler we use a bit of rice, barley or orzo. Then we stew it together with the broth and gelatin, a spoonful of powdered eggshell, seasoned with homegrown herbs like parsley or lemon balm and a bit of pepper. We make a sizeable batch and freeze it in portions that will last her about for days.

Kat, ‘Taste Testing’

Kat the Cavalier

My husband and I share our home with our Cavalier. That’s a toy spaniel and like most spaniels, she has her quirks.

I’ve been told that dogs cannot watch television. No one has told, Kat. She will watch anything on television, although often it is half heartedly, until she sees a dog. Sometimes it doesn’t even have to be a dog. Any animal vaguely resembling a dog gets her attention.

Kat’s favourite television show is Mountain Men. There is one guy with a pack of hunting dogs. (I don’t know his name – I don’t really watch the show. I watch Kat watch the show) Anyway, my favourite part is when those dogs tree a mountain cat. Kat is there! She comes flying off the couch, crouches under the television and goes full on hunting dog. It’s like some kind of virtual reality for a spoiled little lap dog who is terrified of snowflakes in real life. Once the situation is under control, Kat swaggers back to her pillows on the couch and settles down until the pack needs her again.

Other than her television fetish, Kat is a fairly normal little dog. She loves to go for walks, as long as there is zero rain or snow. She will only do her business as we are crossing a road. Yes, our dog is a traffic stopper. My favourite part of that is stopping to pick up her poop while hoping I don’t get hit by a bus.

Kat loves to eat. As much as she loves meat, she prefers vegetables. She loves eating miniature tomatoes and beans off the plants in the summer. She used to eat jalapenos and Hungarian peppers until the summer we planted ghost peppers in the pepper patch.

Of course, like most dogs, Kat loves to share our bed. Actually she likes our pillows and isn’t terribly fond of sharing them with us.

For all her quirks, Kat is a pretty good little dog. She’s a good size for a small house or apartment. I don’t see us ever getting another pure bred pup, as they all seem to be a bit high maintenance and neurotic, but if you are looking to share your house with a small pure bred, Cavaliers are pretty entertaining and sweet.💖

Pets and Purpose

Developing a routine, in a totally unstructured situation, like retirement, can be difficult as well as necessary. If you are like me, you require a routine to keep your priorities in order. My annual holiday typically begins with a plan for completing at least one relatively major project around the house. Since I have two weeks off, this would seem doable. Except, since I have an entire two weeks to do as I please, I am more than willing to procrastinate on my project while I enjoy the freedom of following any and all distractions that come up. By the end of my holiday, I have been on a couple of short trips, enjoyed taco and pool parties with the grandchildren, read at least a couple of books, and spent hours wandering around Home Depot for no particular reason. Meanwhile, our cupboards are still disorganized or our guestroom still needs a fresh coat of paint. Which bring me to the importance of having pets.

My husband and I have always had pets in our home. I came with a dog named Scraps and Dan came with a cat named Hank. Shortly thereafter, Scraps had to be put down and we both agreed we did not really need or want another dog. We lived in a small house, wanted the freedom to travel and we both worked fulltime so getting another dog just wasn’t practical. Until, my husband worked a few of his regular night shifts. Older homes make disturbing sounds and cats really could care less. The Hell’s Angels could be coming in the back door and Hank would be curled up sleeping or silently prowling around, up to his own devices. So, we got Casey. For unknown reasons, Hank had a stroke the next day and had to be put down. We definitely did not need another cat! Until, my daughter brought over a tiny blind kitten desperately needing a home. So, we got Suzie. Suzie was a sweetheart but when she was about twelve years old, her health deteriorated and we had to put her down. Casey seemed rather lonely, but she was ok and I had just suffered a major health issue which was in part due to my allergy to cats. We decided we definitely were not getting another cat. Until my boss had to put down his Golden Retriever, Jody. There are not enough words to describe how thoroughly heartbroken he was. At this point, Dan and Casey were inseparable. Casey was an amazing dog – smart, empathetic and loyal. She was aging and seeing how my boss was hit by the loss of his Jody, I decided to get pro-active and convinced my husband we should get a back-up dog. So we got Kat. (Who is a dog – a Cavelier King Charles, to be precise). She did not lessen the pain of losing our beautiful Casey a couple of years ago, but she has definitely made a place for herself in our hearts and in our home.

With retirement approaching, we have discussed getting another dog. Our pets have been invaluable over the years – for love, companionship and security – and for holding us to somewhat of a routine, even during holidays. Pets do not care if you are willing to sleep late, they eat at six a.m. and will harass you until that happens for them. Supper is the same. You may be willing to wait – your dog is not – or at least, our dog is not. Dogs do not care if you want to curl up in front of a television after supper, they want to go for a walk. Pets have a routine and they will hold you to it, which is a good thing when you are in an unstructured situation.

Chances are we will be bringing another dog (or dogs) into our home. We may adopt an older dog, missing the adorable puppy stage and the extra responsibility that involves. We may even choose to foster, instead of committing to a long-term relationship with one dog, depending on how we are holding up. But, I definitely believe we will have a dog in our life for years to come – filling our home with love and helping to keep us on a schedule which includes a healthy dose of exercise and fresh air and enough responsibility to help us feel needed.