Saturday, May 28, 2011

Extra-Special Kongsicles for Spoiled Rotten Rotties

A long time ago, when I was a newlywed with no children, I used to bake bread and cook things like boeuf bourgignonne -- from homemade beef stock -- when I was feeling particularly domestic and industrious. Fast forward a decade and a "from scratch" crock pot roast and Bake & Serve rolls from the grocery was the pinnacle of my culinary achievements. No more bread from scratch (do I even remember how to do that anymore?), but I'd still bake scones from time to time. But these days, I'm rolling up my sleeves in the kitchen on a regular basis to make Extra-Specially-Good-Puppy Kongsicles. Sometimes I think my dogs are eating better than we are!
I remember seeing these Kong things in the dog toy aisle at the pet store years ago when I had a Golden Retriever. I think I might have even purchased one, but I never put anything in it and Byron Fussy the Golden completely ignored his empty Kong. Our awesome dog trainer, Janine Gauthier of Paws & Order Dog Training, suggested stocking up on Kongs and filling them with all kinds of food goodies for our dogs, and they are really working well. Anytime the dogs have to be crated, they get one of these filled Kongs to keep them happy and busy until we return. If we'll be gone longer than an hour or so, or for bed time, I like to give them frozen Kongsicles like the ones I made today because it takes longer for the puppies to get all the food out if the Kongs are frozen. The dogs L-O-V-E their Kong treats, and they have been known to race into their crates so fast to get the Kong that the whole crate skids across the floor.
So, what goes in our Kongs? Well, every Kong gets a smear of either all-natural peanut butter or organic nonfat cream cheese on the small end, with a little freeze dried training treat stuck in the little hole. I like Tricky Trainers treats for this (I get them from a local holistic pet shop, but you can also find them online), because they fit perfectly in the little hole at the end of the Kong. I put about an eighth of a cup of their kibble in each Kong (they're eating Orijen Large Breed Puppy kibble). Then I vary what else goes in the Kongs: organic carrot or banana baby food, hunks of fresh banana or fresh blueberries, canned unsalted green beans, and plain organic nonfat yogurt are typical Kong fillings. Sometimes I putted a canned sardine or a scoop of canned salmon in there, too -- stinky fishies are great for developing puppies' brains, and we're all about raising healthy little smarty dogs! Then, when the Kong is almost full, I stick a grain-free dog biscuit in the large opening like a little popsicle stick and smear peanut butter, cream cheese, or more yogurt around the biscuit. I pack the filled Kongs up in gallon-sized Zip-Lock bags and pop them in the freezer until they're needed. 

NOTE: I'm limiting my Kong ingredients to food items that I know are good for the dogs and safe for them to eat. Some of my Kongsicle ingredients were suggested by our dog trainer, and others came from an article in the Whole Dog Journal about healthy supplements to commercial dog food diets. Certain seemingly innocuous people food items, like raisins, grapes, or chocolate, are actually toxic to dogs, so it's not a good idea to just give your dog some of whatever your family happens to be eating. SECOND NOTE: Obesity is a big problem for American pets, so it's important to be mindful of how much your dog is eating. Our puppies get one or two filled Kongs per day, and I deduct what's in the Kongs from what would have been in their food bowls. A good rule of thumb is that you want to be able to just barely feel your dog's ribs when you pet him or her, but you shouldn't be able to see their ribs through their fur. If in doubt about how much to feed your pet, consult your veterinarian.

While I was making Kongsicles, Otto and Lulu were busy playing their favorite game, Chomp Your Sibling In the Face. This game is very closely related to one of Lars's and Anders' favorite games, Whack Your Brother With a Stick. Dogs and humans are not that dissimilar, after all.

Otto at 4 1/2 months
All that rough-housing really tuckers a puppy out! Otto's favorite place to rest is in front of this air conditioning vent, near the kitchen sink, and Lulu-Belle likes to snooze near another vent behind the kitchen table. I am sure this is because she has fabulous taste in fabric, and really appreciates the Vervain drapery fabric. Yes, there is black dog fur all over the bottom of my drapery panels -- and frankly, I couldn't possibly care less!
Lulu at 4 1/2 months

These dogs are the sweetest, most loving, eager-to-please creatures imaginable. When they come running to greet me with their tails wagging 90 mph and their puppy kisses, any stress or anxiety just instantly melts away. We spoil these Rotties rotten, and they deserve every bit of it!


Janice the Manice said...

So glad to see you have discovered the joy of kongs! We used to do that for Max and Ruby in their puppy days.... although I never thought to freeze them beforehand. Hmm, mental note, my imaginary (one day real)puppy pit bull named Ubu will have to have these.
On a side note, the XL "black" kong is the only toy my fur babies can't chew thru these days. This may be something to keep in mind when puppy rotties grow up. I imagine they will be a lot like adult pits, they will be able to eat just about any toy you put in front of them (including car tires) but the tough kong will stand the test of time and it will bounce at least 20ft in the air for backyard playtime.

Rebecca Grace said...

Yes, last week I bought several of those supposedly super-tough fleece toys, the ones with reinforced stitching that have a picture of a Rottweiler on the tag touting their toughness. They were destroyed in FIFTEEN MINUTES. Live and learn!

Joann Mannix said...

They are just gorgeous! And look at those paws!

I was at a friend's house the other night for a party and I spotted a guest feeding their dog some grapes! I immediately stopped it and the guest was mortified. He had no idea grapes could be toxic to pups.

I wish more people understood the importance of a good and healthy diet for their dogs.

And speaking of spoiled rotten pups, my two "babies" (75 pounds each) are here on the bed with me. And one of them is actually sleeping with her head on the pillow and somehow has managed to get her body under the comforter. She looks like a hairy human sleeping.