Gracie is now 13 years old!

For nine years she's eaten REAL, HOMEMADE FOOD, NOT commercial dog food. This blog shows how easy it is to be a DOGGIE CHEF and how healthy a home-fed dog can be.

December 22, 2009

Getting The Ball Past Gracie

It's not easy to kick a ball past Gracie. She's QUICK! Here she's watching closely and getting into position to spring for the ball.

With her eye on the ball
 she figures out its direction in a fraction of a second.

Here she goes....

And now she makes a leap for it! Such quick reflexes and agile movement for a 10-year-old dog!

December 15, 2009

Playtime Should Be Fun, Not Frustrating

When I adopted Gracie the staff at the dog shelter gave me a large, heavy rock her former owner had left there with her. It was supposedly Gracie's favorite "toy."

Gracie's idea of "playing" with this thick, flat rock was to push at it with her front paws or straddle it while trying to move it under her; all the while yelping and whining in frustration because it barely budged. What was her former owner thinking?

After watching this unhealthy "play" for a few minutes I decided my dog deserved a more pleasant and satisfying experience.  I got rid of the rock and offered substitutes. Gracie's favorite ended up being a basketball, either fully pumped up or slightly deflated (she can get a good mouth grip on a slightly deflated basketball, to carry it around).

Gracie loves to straddle her basketball and pull it around the yard underneath her, especially when there's snow to help it slip along the grass.

Continuous frustration is as bad for dogs as it is for humans. Playtime should be fun and make a dog happy!

December 8, 2009

Canned Salmon Breakfast 12-8-09

Canned salmon (The bones are soft enough to eat and they provide calcium. I remove most of the skin and briefly rinse the salmon to remove excess salt.)

Homemade wheat bread

Crushed black beans and cooked carrots

Cottage cheese

December 1, 2009

Doggie Dental Care

When I adopted Gracie some of her teeth were stained with yellowish-brown marks. After a few months of regular, home dental care they looked much better but Gracie's vet said some of the stains would never go away.

The above photo shows the tools I use to help keep my dog's teeth clean. Gracie's veterinarians always say her teeth look clean. None of them ever recommended a professional cleaning!

I try to brush Gracie's teeth at least once or twice a week. I use a Braun electric toothbrush but I don't turn it on. Soon after buying it I found out Gracie did not like the buzzing sound and movement of the brush! I just use it as a manual toothbrush. It's excellent. The head is small enough for me to reach all her teeth without causing her too much discomfort. Also, the heads can be cleaned easily and replaced.

I use CET Enzymatic Toothpaste for Dogs and Cats, in poultry flavor. A vet recommended it to me several years ago and Gracie seems to enjoy the taste.

Every once in a while, when needed, I use the metal dental instrument pictured above to scrape plaque build-up off Gracie's teeth. Some vets and animal care "experts" advise against anyone but a veterinary professional doing this. They claim most dog owners will not do it properly, scratch the tooth surface and cause more plaque build-up. If I see plaque build-up on Gracie's teeth I scrape and wipe it away as gently as I can. We haven't had any problems so far!

November 24, 2009

"The Nature of Animal Healing"

"The Nature of Animal Healing --- The Definitive Holistic Medicine Guide to Caring For Your Dog And Cat," by Martin Goldstein, D.V.M.
Copyright 1999

Doggie Chef Rating:
4 out of 5 bones

Like other natural pet care books I've read, this one contains some useful information and some information that's too “far out” for me (For example: Dr. Goldstein’s use of homeopathic remedies for a pet’s physical ailments and his use of Bach’s Flower Remedies for emotional ailments). Yet parts of the book are excellent. Especially chapter three, “It All Starts With The Food;” chapter four, “The Dubious Legacy of Vaccines;” and chapter nine, “The Spiritual Realm.”

Dr. Goldstein is a DoggieChef! He advocates feeding pets “real food” and he prepares homemade meals for his own pets. While this book doesn’t have any homemade pet food recipes, the author does state the different kinds of foods he gives his pets. Goldstein also addresses the question, “How much of the good food should I feed my pet?” His answer: “It depends! On weight, metabolism, temperament and breed. And probably the weather too.” I totally agree.

I found the chapter on vaccines especially interesting. Goldstein thinks vaccines are the leading killer of dogs and cats in America today. He provides background information on the history of vaccines and their use for people and pets and talks about his experience with vaccines as a veterinarian.

I really like the way Goldstein explained the relationship between a pet’s emotions and the pet’s level of wellness. Too many pet owners have too little empathy for their pets. They have no clue how their own feelings of depression, anger, loneliness or grief stress out their pets and can make their pets ill. I agree with a lot of what Goldstein says about pets and the spiritual realm. It’s probably because I feel spiritually connected to my dog!

Overall, this book is Doggie Chef recommended!

November 12, 2009

All Snuggled In Bed

Gracie sleeps in a dog bed on my bed. Dogs can be great foot warmers in wintertime! And yes, she sleeps with her stuffed animal toys. I've tried to cover Gracie on cold winter nights with her own cozy fleece blanket but after a while she seems to get too warm and just shakes it off. The "blanket" she favors is an old, lightweight cotton tablecloth. I guess her fur coat keeps her warm enough!

November 3, 2009

Ground Beef & Chicken Dinner 11-3-09

Ground beef


Cooked barley

Whole wheat bread

Green peas


Corn oil

Ground flax seed

October 27, 2009

Easy Poached Doggie Chicken

Most of the chicken meat I give Gracie comes from fryer chickens I buy at the grocery store. I often roast these chickens in the oven or cook them in a slow cooker. Recently I started cooking them another, easy way: poaching them in a pot of seasoned water.

To poach a chicken I first wash it under cold running water, removing the bag containing the neck and organ meats from inside the chicken. I then remove most of the chicken skin (using a kitchen scissors) and put the chicken in a large pot. I add about an inch or two of water to the pot, pour a little dry sherry wine over the chicken (for flavor), then sprinkle it with seasonings: lots of parsley, a tiny bit of salt and pepper, some rosemary, basil and sage.

I also wash the chicken neck and organ meat and place them in a separate, smaller, pot with a little water and dry sherry wine.

I put both pots on the stove top, covered, over medium flames, until they just reach a boil. Then I lower the flame and poach the chicken and organ meats in simmering liquid until they're done. The chicken usually takes a more than an hour (I cook it until the leg meat falls off the bone and the juices run clear) but the neck and organ meats only take about 25 minutes. I check both about halfway through their cooking times to make sure the water hasn't boiled out of the pot.

After both have cooled to room temperature I cut up the organ meats (heart, gizzard, liver), add it to the neck meat (which I remove from the neck bone) and store it in a container.
I then remove as much meat as possible from the chicken, including some of the very soft, white cartilage (NOT the harder cartilage). I cut it all up and mix it together (so the dark and white meats are mixed together) and store it in containers in the freezer for future meals.

October 20, 2009

Homemade Doggie Chef Bread

I like to make homemade bread for Gracie. A bread machine with a dough cycle is very helpful if you make homemade bread frequently. I hardly ever bake bread in my bread machine. I mostly use the bread machine to mix up and raise the dough.
Here's the recipe I use to make Gracie's Doggie Bread:

1 1/3 cups warm water
1 Tablespoon brown sugar or honey
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup rolled oats
2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons instant yeast (Fleischmann's Rapid Rise or Bread Machine Yeast works best)

Place all ingredients in the bread machine, in the above order. If baking in the bread machine, choose the basic, white bread, light crust or similar setting. If you want to bake the bread in your oven, just choose the dough cycle. Check dough about 5 minutes after it starts kneading. It should be smooth. Add a little water if it appears too dry. Let dough rise in the bread machine.
Remove dough from bread machine. Shape into a loaf and let rise in a lightly greased loaf pan until it crowns about 1-inch above the pan's rim. Or shape dough into a large baguette or two small baguettes and let rise on a baking sheet until almost double in size.

Bake in a preheated 400 degree F oven about 30 minutes or until done.

Here's a loaf  I baked in the bread machine:

Here's my favorite way to bake Gracie's bread --- shaped like a big baguette. It
provides more chewy surface area baked this way.

Here's a loaf I baked in a loaf pan:

I don't like feeding Gracie too much doughy bread so I often leave a fresh baked loaf of bread out on the counter overnight to dry out a little before packing it away for future Doggie meals. Or I'll cut it up and toast it in the oven to dry it out.

This bread recipe is very forgiving. You can use less or more salt, sugar/honey and rolled oats. You can replace a small portion (1/4 or 1/3 cup) of either flour with oat flour (made from grinding up additional rolled oats). You can replace some, or all, of the rolled oats with whole wheat berries, or rye or wheat flakes. You can also use more wheat flour (just use that much less white flour). Using a higher percentage of wheat flour will require a little more water when making the dough and a longer rising time.

Most of the time I use store-bought whole wheat bread in Gracie's meals. Click here to see which kind I use.

October 13, 2009

Store Bought Wheat Bread

Since becoming a Doggie Chef, I've mostly used store bought bread to provide the carbohydrate/grain portion of Gracie's meals.

In recent years I became more aware of the high sugar and sodium content in even good quality store bought bread. Also, most store bought bread contains a long list of ingredients and preservatives I can't pronounce and never heard of.

I finally settled on using Brownberry Natural Wheat Bread in Gracie's meals. Out of all the breads available in my grocery store, it seems to contain the most healthful ingredients and the least questionable ingredients. Plus, I like the way it tastes as much as Gracie does. Yet in the last year and a half this bread has almost doubled in price!

So I started using store bought bread less and instead use more home-cooked grains in Gracie's meals (oatmeal, barley, brown rice). I also make homemade Doggie Bread much more frequently than I used to (click here for an easy Homemade Doggie Bread Recipe).

I realize you can't beat the convenience of store bought bread. Especially if you're pressed for time or taking your dog on a trip. If you do use store bought bread in your dog's meals, read the ingredients list carefully. Some wheat breads contain concentrated raisin juice. Raisins are toxic to dogs, so I wouldn't take a chance feeding my dog these breads.

According to the Brownberry Natural Wheat Bread ingredient list, the bread contains: cracked wheat, water, unbleached enriched wheat flour [flour, malted barley flour, reduced iron, niacin, thiamin mononitrite (vitamin B1), riboflavin (vitamin B2), folic acid], sugar, soybean oil, salt, yeast, cultured wheat starch, nutrient blend (tricalcium phosphate, maltodextrin, vitamin E, vitamin A, niacin, reduced iron, pyridoxine hydrochloride, riboflavin, thiamin mononitrate, folic acid, vitamin B12), grain vinegar, soy lecithin, whey, soy flour, nonfat milk.

October 6, 2009

Brown Rice

Brown rice is an excellent, inexpensive way to provide carbohydrates and other nutrients in homemade dog meals. It's also easily digestible if cooked with plenty of moisture. I usually make brown rice for Gracie in the microwave. Here's an easy method:

1 cup uncooked brown rice
2 1/4 cups water

Combine rice and water in covered, microwave safe dish. Microwave on HIGH (100% full power) power for five minutes, or until water is boiling. Reduce power level to Medium (50% ) and microwave 25 minutes more or until water is absorbed. Let stand for five minutes. Fluff with a fork and serve or store in the refrigerator.

This recipe can be doubled. Use a larger cooking dish and first microwave on HIGH for 10 minutes. Then reduce power level to 50% and microwave for 30 minutes or longer, until water is absorbed.

Like many whole grains, if the cooked rice is very dry you might notice much of the grain will just pass through your dog's digestive tract. I prefer cooking brown rice with enough water to keep the grains moist for better digestibility and nutrient absorption. Every microwave is different so you might have to adjust the amount of water slightly. If the grains seem too dry you can add water at the end of the final cooking time and cook for several minutes longer on medium power.

September 29, 2009

Poached Ocean Perch Breakfast 9-29-09

Wild ocean perch (BONES REMOVED), poached with a bit of canola oil, water, a splash of dry sherry, parsley and rosemary

Homemade whole wheat bread

Cooked barley

Cheddar cheese

Fresh spinach

September 22, 2009

"Pet Food Nation"

"Pet Food Nation," by Joan Weiskopf
Copyright 2007

Doggie Chef Rating:
3 out of 5 bones

This book is good for new Doggie Chefs. It was published in 2007, after the commercial pet food recall. Pets were sickened by food containing wheat gluten contaminated with melamine and pet owners were scared. The author does a good job of introducing readers to the merits of homemade pet food diets.

Like other books on the subject, the author informs readers about dog nutrition, food groups and sources, and ingredient labeling. There’s also a brief chapter on why the author doesn’t recommend raw food diets. Another chapter called, “Basic Recipes for Dogs,” contains several recipes that might be helpful to new Doggie Chefs.

The introduction was my least favorite part of the book. It almost turned me off to reading further. I felt like the author was trying too hard to convince me she's a credible source. It seemed so unnecessary. Weiskopf is a Doggie Chef! She cooks for her dogs and tells others how to in her book. It seems to me if her pets are healthy, happy and long-lived, she doesn’t need to explain her credentials or make excuses for any she doesn't have.

This book does contain some useful information for Doggie Chefs.

September 15, 2009


Some dog care experts recommend giving pet dogs filtered or bottled water but I give Gracie regular tap water. I am, however, a little obsessive about making sure she always has fresh, clean, cool water. I usually change Gracie's water at mealtimes and every time she drinks from her water bowl (that's not very often; maybe once or twice a day). I'm especially careful to change her water after she takes a drink after playing outside. That's when she slobbers into her bowl, so it would be gross not to change her water then.

I've always used a stainless steel water bowl (pictured above) since it's easy to clean and can be sanitized, in the dishwasher or with boiling water, if needed. More often I wash it by hand with hot water and dish soap (and rinse it thoroughly) just before feeding Gracie her breakfast and dinner. I wash Gracie's water bowl at least once each day.

I ALWAYS bring a filled water bowl outside when Gracie and I play --- even in the winter.

September 8, 2009

Calf Liver

I very rarely feed Gracie beef liver. I find it unpleasant to handle and cook (it doesn't smell very nice when its cooking). It's also loaded with Vitamin A, which can be too much of a good thing if fed too often. So I only buy it for Gracie a few times a year, just for variety. She eats chicken liver more often, whenever I buy a whole, fresh chicken.

When I do make beef liver for Gracie I prefer calf liver to regular beef liver. My guess is that because calves have (unfortunately) not lived as long as older cattle, they've accumulated less toxic substances in their organs. On the rare occasion I buy calf liver I get it from my grocery store's frozen food section. It probably would be more nutritious purchased fresh.

I fry the calf liver in a pan with a little oil and water. I try not to overcook it but that's hard because liver tends to look pink even when it's cooked through. I don't like the idea of feeding raw meat to Gracie.
Once the liver is cooked I'll give Gracie one meal with liver as the main protein source. The rest goes in the refrigerator to add (just a small piece) to a few meals later in the week. Gracie seems to like it but I prefer to feed it as a special treat rather than a regular part of her diet. 

September 1, 2009

Chicken Organ Meats Dinner 9-1-09

Chicken organ meats (hearts, liver, gizzards) cooked in corn oil

Whole wheat bread

Cooked barley

Sweet potato

Black beans


August 18, 2009

Gracie Playing Catch

Below is a video (silent) of Gracie playing catch this past week.
Even at 10 years old, she's energetic and always ready to play.
I'm sure it's because she eats real food every day!

August 11, 2009

Chicken Organ Meats

Whenever I cook a whole chicken I save and cook the organ meats for Gracie (heart, liver, gizzard), along with the neck. I remove the meat from the neck bone after cooking and discard the bone. Most of the time Gracie eats the kind of meat I usually eat: poultry thigh, breast or drumstick meat; beef muscle meat, ground beef; canned or fresh fish, etc....

Yet organ meat contains healthful vitamins and nutrients too, so I cook it for Gracie when I have it. I don't go out of my way to buy it regularly for Gracie's meals because I find it unpleasant to handle and prepare.

Some dog care enthusiasts are in favor of feeding organ meats regularly because, "in the wild," dogs devoured the organ meats of the prey they brought down. I suppose that's true but I'm guessing Gracie is many generations from living, "in the wild." I don't feel like she's missing out by not eating organ meats all the time.

August 4, 2009

Can Dogs Smile?

Can dogs smile? Google that question and you'll see an ongoing debate. Some say the "smiles" we see on our dogs' faces are just expressions that form when our dogs pant and stick out their tongues. If a dog's owner sees it, the dog usually gets a lot of positive attention so the behavior is repeated again in the future.
I don't believe it. I think Gracie smiles whenever she's very happy, like when we're playing fetch in the yard (see photo above).

July 28, 2009

Keep Your Eye On The Ball!

I like taking photos of Gracie in action, playing ball. The camera reveals expressions and postures I can never see, because she's so quick.

July 21, 2009

Sardine Breakfast 7-21-09

Canned sardines

Oatmeal, cooked in milk

Whole wheat bread

Black beans

Fresh spinach

Sunflower oil

July 14, 2009

"Better Food for Dogs"

Better Food for Dogs
by David Bastin, Jennifer Ashton and Dr. Grant Nixon, D.V.M.
Copyright 2002

Doggie Chef Rating:
2 out of 5 bones

This book aims to provide nutritionally balanced recipes and food guides for dogs. The recipes are for healthy, adult dogs weighing from five pounds to 150 pounds.

While the book's intent is good, the meal recipes, charts, substitutions and variations  are complicated to follow. I'm also a little wary of the recipes' salt content.
The authors include iodized salt and/or potassium chloride in just about every meal recipe, along with a bone meal and vitamin-mineral supplement. The amounts of iodized salt and potassium chloride recommended for most of the meals seem alarmingly high to me. I try not to add too much salt to Gracie's meals. I do sprinkle iodized table salt on meats I cook for her. I think she gets enough additional salt from the other foods I include in her diet such as breads, canned fish and cheeses. Plus she gets additional salt from any snacks we might share with her.

One of the book's authors (Nixon) is a veterinarian. The other two (Bastin and Ashton) own Licks and Wags, Ltd., a dog cookie company. At the end of the book the authors share some of their Licks and Wags cookie recipes. However the majority of recipes provided are for daily meals.

The recipes in this book suggest using potatoes and/or pasta as often as cooked whole grains or whole grains breads, to fulfill dietary carbohydrate requirements. The authors just say, "potatoes," so I assume they mean white potatoes. I don't think white potatoes should be a regular carbohydrate source for dogs when nutritionally better ones exist.

Every meal recipe in this book includes either a fruit-vegetable mix or a few different fruits or vegetables. Yet the amount of fruits and vegetables called for in each meal seems too high. For a 60 pound dog one recipe calls for a little more than 3/4 of a cup of a pureed fruit-vegetable mix for one meal. And I question some of the suggested fruit and vegetable offerings. Maybe some dogs like and benefit from tomatoes but I wouldn't feed them to Gracie and she wouldn't eat them. I also don't feed her cooked corn. The kernels simply pass, undigested, through her body. Of course, every dog is different.

Although I don't recommend "Better Food for Dogs" as the cookbook it's intended to be, I think the first three chapters make a good case for feeding dogs whole foods and provide some valuable background information on canine nutrition.

July 7, 2009

Egg Whites Breakfast 7-7-09

Egg whites cooked in corn oil

Brown rice

Whole wheat bread

Black beans

Fresh spinach

Bonemeal powder

June 30, 2009

Brushing Tools

A good Doggie Chef knows it takes more than homemade food to keep a dog's skin and coat healthy. Regular grooming is important too!

I use the tools shown above to keep Gracie's coat looking nice. The toothbrush and comb are used to clean accumulated hair out of the brush.  I recommend this type of brush, with an attached strap you can slip onto your hand. The one I use has natural bristles. I keep two so I can wash and dry one each bath day and still have a clean, dry one ready to use.

When I first adopted Gracie she shed a lot. Back then I tried using a certain kind of grooming brush on Gracie --- the kind with thin metal bristles on a rectangular head. Gracie did not like it one bit! She flinched whenever I started brushing her and wriggled away. Then I tried the brush on my own hair and understood why. It prickled and hurt so much! I couldn't believe a brush like that was even sold for use on pets. I guess it's only for pets with very thick coats.

I try to brush Gracie daily but sometimes I'll miss a day. Brushing is a good time to check out your dog's body for any injuries, growths or problems that might otherwise go unnoticed. It's easy to rush through brushing but it can be a great time to give your beloved dog some well deserved TLC. Gracie loves to get brushed and will stretch out and sigh while I'm doing it. I try to make it last a while when there's time. A careful, thorough brushing benefits a dog's skin and helps distribute oils through a dog's coat to make it soft and shiny.

June 23, 2009

Ground Beef Dinner 6-23-09

Ground beef cooked in corn oil

Hard boiled egg white

Whole wheat bread

Oatmeal cooked in milk

Sweet potato

Cooked, ground carrot

Corn oil

Eggshell powder

June 16, 2009

Chicken Organ Meats Breakfast 6-16-09

Chicken organ meats (hearts, liver and gizzard)

Whole wheat bread

Brown rice

Green peas


Corn oil

Bone meal powder

June 9, 2009

Chicken-Calf Liver Dinner 6-9-09


Calf liver cooked in olive oil

Homemade wheat bread

Oatmeal cooked in milk


June 2, 2009


I believe in the health benefits of yogurt so I include some in Gracie's diet. She eats it happily.
I used to feed Gracie full-fat yogurt. As she's grown older I've switched to nonfat and fat free yogurt most of the time.

My favorite is Greek style yogurt and I usually buy the Stonyfield brand. It's unbelievably thick and creamy for a fat-free yogurt.  A serving for Gracie equals about 2 tablespoons, or 1/8 cup.

One Gracie-sized serving of Stonyfield Greek style yogurt contains:
Protein: Close to 3 grams
Calcium:  3.75 percent of a human's recommended daily value for calcium (based on a 2,000 calorie-a-day diet).
Sodium: Close to 12 milligrams, or .5 percent of a human's recommended daily value for sodium (based on a 2,000 calorie-a-day diet).

Sugar:  1.125 grams (which is quite a bit of sugar).
According to the Stonyfield website, it's Greek style Oikos yogurt contains, "five live and active cultures including L. acidophilus, bifidus, and L. casei."

I also feed Gracie Dannon All Natural Nonfat Plain Yogurt. It's not as thick as Greek style yogurt. I sometimes strain it in a yogurt strainer to make it thicker.

One Gracie-sized serving of Dannon All Natural Nonfat Plain Yogurt contains:
Protein: About 1.5 grams of protein
Calcium: 5 percent of a human's recommended daily value for calcium (based on a 2,000 calorie-a-day diet)
Sodium: 20 milligrams, or just less than 1 percent of a human's recommended daily value for sodium (based on a 2,000 calorie-a-day diet)

Sugar: 2 grams (even more sugar, per ounce, than the Greek style yogurt).
According to the Dannon website, the yogurt contains, "active yogurt cultures including L. acidophilus."

Since the sugar content concerns me, I don't feed Gracie yogurt every day. I add it to her meals a few times each week, whenever we have yogurt in the house. It provides extra calcium and protein and I think the active yogurt cultures are good for her digestive health.

****POST UPDATE****: I discovered a new dairy food to add to Gracie's meals. It provides more protein and calcium than both yogurts mentioned above, and less sugar than one of the yogurts mentioned above. Find out what it is in my November 16, 2010 post.

May 26, 2009

Cottage Cheese

Cottage cheese is a good source of protein so I include it in some of Gracie's meals. However, be aware most brands, including the one I use,  contain significant amounts of sodium. I use Daisy Brand Low Fat Cottage Cheese, small curd, 2% Milkfat. It contains no additives or preservatives and a very short ingredient list: cultured skim milk, cream, salt, vitamin A palmitate. Most other brands of cottage cheese at my grocery store contain a long list of additives.

One Gracie-sized serving of Daisy Brand Low Fat Cottage Cheese (small curd, 2% milk fat) contains:

Protein: 3.5 grams
Calcium: 2 percent of a human's recommended daily value for calcium (based on a 2,000 calorie-a-day diet).
Sodium: 90 milligrams or 3.75 percent of a human's recommended daily value for sodium (based on a 2,000 calorie-a-day diet).
Sugar: 1 gram (which seems like a lot of sugar for one Gracie-sized serving)

****POST UPDATE****: I discovered a new dairy food to add to Gracie's meals. It provides more protein and calcium than the two yogurts I feed Gracie (click here for more information) and significantly less sodium than the cottage cheese mentioned above. Find out what it is in my November 16, 2010 post.

May 19, 2009

Stuffed Animal Toys

When I adopted Gracie a neighbor visited and brought over a small stuffed animal toy to welcome my dog to her new home. Within a few days Gracie pulled the eyes off the toy but would do no further damage to it for months. Instead she carried it around and snuggled it when she slept. One day she happily tore it open and pulled all the stuffing out. She continued carrying around and snuggling the empty shell for a long time, even after I got her new stuffed toys to play with.

Gracie enjoys pulling apart stuffed animal toys like the ones shown in the above photo. She does it a little at a time, over the course of several days; usually when I'm relaxing in bed reading and she's laying next to me. Or when we're watching a movie. She likes to pull out all the stuffing and any squeakers hidden inside a toy, but she never swallows anything. She just shakes her head from side to side and spits it all out of her mouth. After that she'll carry the unstuffed toy shell around or snuggle it while she's sleeping for several weeks. The picture below shows a stuffed animal shell Gracie carried around and slept with for about two months.

The remarkable thing is that Gracie has never pulled apart or bothered with stuffed animal toys in the house that don't belong to her. She seems to know if the toy wasn't specifically given to her to play with, it's off limits.

May 12, 2009

Chicken Breakfast 5-12-09


Whole wheat bread

Cooked barley

Cooked, grated carrot


Bone meal powder

Sunflower oil

May 5, 2009

Ground Beef Dinner 5-5-09

Seasoned ground beef cooked in canola oil

Homemade wheat bread

Cooked barley

Cooked cabbage


April 28, 2009

Gracie Loves Houseguests!

We had a house full of out-of-town guests recently and Gracie loved it. She's especially good with children and very patient with them. Here's a photo of Gracie lining up with the kids for a play activity:

April 21, 2009

Baby Wipes For Clean Ears

Homemade meals are one way to keep a dog healthy. However, good Doggie Chefs know keeping a dog reasonably clean and well groomed is important too.

The first year I had Gracie her ears smelled pretty bad for several months. The vet said she had an ear infection and recommended I clean Gracie's ears with a liquid solution made to swish into a dog's ear with a squeeze-bottle. Well, Gracie would have none of that and I couldn't blame her. Who wants chilly liquid squeezed into their ears?

I bought some doggie ear pad wipes but they were saturated with liquid and unpleasant to use. I started carefully wiping out Gracie's ears with cotton balls dampened with witch hazel. Then I used tissues dampened with witch hazel, which helped me to do a better job.

One evening when I was removing eye make-up from my face with a baby wipe I realized baby wipes would be great for cleaning a dog's ears!

I buy the unscented, gentle kind of baby wipe and use one for each ear (sometimes two if Gracie has a lot of ear wax). I clean Gracie's ears thoroughly about once a week. I wrap the wipe around my finger and clean her outer ear and the outer part of her inner ear (if that makes sense). I try not to clean too deeply into her ear canal but I think it is important to clean out much of the excess wax. I know ear wax serves a function but clean ears smell a lot nicer. On other days of the week when I'm brushing Gracie I'll sometimes quickly clean just her outer ear, under her ear flap.

April 14, 2009

Egg Whites & Rice Dinner 4-14-09

Egg whites cooked in corn oil


Whole wheat bread

Cooked sweet potato

Cooked peas

Bone meal powder

April 7, 2009

Canned Salmon Breakfast 4-7-09

Canned salmon (Rinsed briefly in water to remove excess salt. Most of the skin removed. The bones are safe, as they're very soft)

Oatmeal cooked in milk

Whole wheat bread

Egg noodles

Cooked carrots


April 1, 2009

Ground Beef Dinner 4-1-09

Ground beef cooked in corn oil

Oatmeal cooked in milk

Homemade wheat bread

Cooked carrots

Plain yogurt