Putting Down The Dog

Putting to Rest Little White Dogs
JUNE 2, 2009 11:06PM

Putting Down The Dog - is it foodie Tuesday?

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 Dry the shells from 6 eggs for 10 minutes in a 300 degree oven, let cool and grind to powder in the old coffee grinder.

Liquefy and mix in a food processor, in batches if necessary:
    6 eggs
    1 can green beans with liquid
    water drained from 1 lb chicken liver
    water drained from 1 12 oz. can tuna

Pour into a very big mixing bowl with:
    4-1/2 sesame seed hamburger buns
    1 C oatmeal
    1 lb. chicken livers (squished through your hands to break up)
    2 peeled apples, grated

Mix it up and add:
    3-4 lbs. ground beef
    1 lb. ground venison

With your hands, mix all ingredients thoroughly.  Press into  in a big, fairly deep baking pan.  If the beef is fatty, forming the mixture into loaves with space between them allows better drainage of the fat.
Bake at 350 degrees 1-1/2 hours.
When it's done pour off any fat that drained in the pan, cool, break it into chunks and freeze in portion-size containers.

* * * * * * * * * *
I make no assertions and certainly no guarantees about the nutritional value of this as a dog food.  Long term nutritional effects aren't crucial for an eighteen year old dog.  My aim is to avert starvation and short-term illness.

Some notes on the recipe:
  • Drying the egg shells makes them easier to grind - not that they need to be ground, Lula is a dog and would eat them whole if she felt like eating them at all.  I find both the idea and the sound of her crunching on them mildly creepy.  Added because calcium is good so why throw them away.
  • The tuna water is included just because she likes it and I knew I'd be opening the can for dinner tonight.
  • Hamburger buns could be any bread.  I know I'm not going to eat all I have so I used them.  Lula loves bread. (She had a liverwurst sandwich for breakfast.  Liverwurst is doggie crack.)
  • Any fruits and vegetables can be substituted (a can of pumpkin would be very good if only I hadn't forgot it)  but only apples should be included raw or as anything but mush.  Lula can find a tiny piece of green vegetable inside a mountain of meat and she will delicately remove it to the floor beside her dish.  All my dogs have had this skill.  A small piece of carrot might escape notice and get eaten along with meat but nothing green.
  • Oatmeal's just good and good for you.
  • Liver of any kind, hell, organ meats of any kind, add to dog palatability.  They could be liquefied in the food processor but that's so bass-o-matic icky.
  • The venison, '07 vintage, was going to waste in the neighbor's freezer.  She offered, I accepted.  In my experience, dogs like venison.
  • Whole Foods has had 20% fat ground beef for $1.99/lb. this summer in packs of 3-4 lbs.  I wouldn't feed a younger dog that much fat but I am haunted by the sharp bones I feel whenever I handle Lula and I know her digestive system can handle it.  Calories, calories, calories.  A lot of it will drain off in the oven.
I'll feed it with a little chicken or beef broth because that seems to make it easier for her and water is good for her failing little kidneys.

If things go well she will be eating for about two weeks.  Worst case, it will last forever but I've found a canned food she'll eat sometimes and there's a backlog in the refrigerator and freezer. A big ole venison summer sausage in the refrigerator and some chicken backs and feet in the freezer.  And I can always count on the Ravenous Poodle to finish up what The Little White Dog rejects. Or forgets about. Or gets distracted from.  Or takes too long to eat.

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Thanks for your compassion but there's my problem in a nutshell. She gives no sign of being in any pain or even of being particulary uncomfortable or stoic about hiding it. She knows when we're setting off to the dog park, barks at me if I don't move fast enough, toddles herself around the park at a pace that requires my constant vigilance, accepts the admiration of humans and some dogs and is extremely effective at shooing away pesty dogs, especially rambunctious puppies who outsize her.

Feeding is the one big daily issue and so far I can't interpret that as a sign it's her time. She won't eat much manufactured dog food and is picky about the homemade stuff. But many things she eats with gusto and demands fiercely. It's a matter of figuring out what. Currently, potato chips are a favorite and I give her all I can justify. Even at her age I can't let her make a meal of them. I hide her few medications in liverwust and she's wildly enthusiastic about that, yet again, that's not something to make a meal of except as the occasional sandwich. Bagles - preferably with cream cheese, pizza crust, fast food cheeseburgers or chicken tenders ... Every now and then she'll even dig into a bowl of kibble and ask for more. Merrick has a new variety in their line of gimmick-y canned foods - New Zealand Summer - which contains mostly lamb and lamb liver in the shape of sausages. I roll my eyes whenever I buy it but she seems to like that.

I am more and more comfortable with having the responsibility for making the choice about the end of her life. For now maybe she's keeping her last days interesting by toying with me. I find her endlessly fascinating and so far am willing to keep tackling the hoops she sets out for me.