There’s a reason Bramble looks like he could take on the world, and why he’s got muscle definition like that when he’s only five months old. It’s because his breakfast yesterday morning was a big hunk of chicken topped with a delicious pile of ground beef lung.
Our dogs don’t eat dog food. Well, no, that’s wrong. Our dogs DO eat dog food–the food dogs and wolves have been eating for the last ten million years or so. Kibble is a VERY recent invention–no older than perhaps forty years in its current form (Ken-L Biskit and Milk-Bone and similar bread-like products existed before that, but at least according to the older breeders I’ve asked and the vintage dog care books I own, you always fed them with fresh meat).
When Doug and I got our very first dog together, I knew I wanted to feed her better than the Dog Chow that was fed to all the family dogs when I was growing up. I was very proud to scrimp and save and buy a “really good” kibble (Iams, yech!). But I began to do research on the Internet, and I started to read about this crazy thing called BARF. Back then there was ONE book, Billinghurst’s Give Your Dog a Bone, a rambling, badly proofread, self-published paperback book written by an Australian vet who had watched the switchover from dogs eating raw table scraps and hunted food to dogs eating kibble and was appalled at the deterioration in health he saw. I paid $40 for one copy and read it cover to cover.
BARF, which is a term we no longer use, stands for Bones and Raw Food, or Biologically Appropriate Raw Food. Billinghurst insisted that dogs had been eating raw human-provided scraps and a few fresh kills since wolves first started hanging around human encampments. So why were we messing with what worked? It’s a very simple question, and it’s rather inescapable in its implications. At no time has a wolf or dog ever stalked and killed a wild semolina loaf.
That first dog was tragically killed when she was seven months old (a story I will tell sometime), and a year or so later we decided to try again.
And this puppy came out of her airline crate (this was also our first purebred dog and the first one ever shipped to us) and was greeted with a chicken leg quarter, not a bowl of kibble.
And the rest, as they say, is history. We haven’t had a bag of kibble in the house since then, and it will be ten years in January. I raised three generations of Danes on it, the corgis of course, and every rescue dog goes on it immediately. I don’t know how many total I’ve fed raw, but counting the puppies it’s got to be close to fifty at this point.
And, because I have the spiritual gift of bossiness, I make friends and family feed it too. My rule is that I don’t want to yard-pick big smelly poops, and I don’t want my dogs eating your dog’s poop because it smells like undigested kibble, so if you want to come over and play your dogs have to be well-fed too. Not everyone feeds a completely raw diet–Sparky gets a grain-free kibble, Wilson gets a lot of raw and some canned, Bastoche gets mostly raw but some grain-free kibble, etc.–but nobody’s on an inappropriate diet. So I get to look out and see this:
Little shiny muscular streaks of lightning.