A blog about my life with dogs.......

Sunday, February 17, 2013

meat packing

     Today I became aware of a dog food recall affecting a brand I often recommend for folks who are interested in trying raw but aren't ready to home prepare. Natures Variety makes kibble, canned, freeze dried and raw food for dogs and cats. Even after this recall, I still recommend them. Trying pre-made raw is a good first step for lots of people thinking of making the leap away from kibble. I am a strong advocate for dog people doing their own research and coming to their own conclusions. There is no 1 right way to feed your dog/s! So I was dismayed, though not surprised, when I read comments about this recall on Dog Food Advisor. A commenter said "...I'd trust a dog food like Brothers Complete or Honest Kitchen before I'd trust 80% of the home food preparers out there."
Wow. To me this statement is nonsensical. I don't have to trust 99% of the home prepare/raw feeders out there. The only person I have to trust is me. The only person you have to trust, if you decide to home prepare/raw feed your dog is YOU! And that is the beauty of the diet.

Making your dogs food means
*You know where your meat comes from because it came from your butcher, your grocery, your farmer friend down the road, meat service website or packing plant, a source that YOU have decided is good enough for your dog.
*You know where your vegetables came from because they came from: your garden, your farmers market, your food pantry, a label of human grade food that you trust.
*You know what the ingredients are because you put them in the bowl.
*You know what is not in the bowl....because you didn't put it in there.

     Point being, when you buy a bag of kibble there are so many people you are silently agreeing to trust. All the hands that went into the making of that food, all the equipment, the transportation, the changing of hands. If you make your own pets food the only person you have to trust is yourself.

     There is this idea that we can't do it. Well, gee whiz, here is this bag that says it is "complete and balanced" nutrition for Fido.....How could I possibly know how to make something "complete and balanced".  The truth of the matter is we humans have a complicated set of dietary requirements ourselves, such that dieticians and health coaches could go on and on about those nutritional requirements. Somehow most of us are able to feed human babies, toddlers, children and ourselves meal after home made meal(okay, some of us more so than others tee-hee: ). Still we survive and even thrive. So can our dogs! I am in the position to see that eating liver and chicken thighs with skin for too long makes Bugsy's coat greasy. I am in the position to see that if I feed raw whole necks of any species larger than chicken to 2 out of 5 of my dogs for more than 1 meal in a row, 2 (those 2 being Wonder and Comet)of them will hack up neck bones that are too much for them to digest in that time period. These are my dogs. I know my dogs. I have learned so much from feeding them myself! Not to mention the health benefits I see in them! The fresh breath, the bright eyes and healthy desire to get outside and move. Soft shiny coats and clean teeth.
You make your own decisions about your dog. Don't let people who aim to blame home feeders as no nothings detract from your mission to know something, to know more! Know more about the food for your dog and stay away from letting your house be touched by the scary statistics of lethally contaminated kibble.

 Stepping down off my soap box  now.......
I cut bison heart into each dogs share with kitchen scissors
Captain's portion
     Speaking of dog food, I have found that it is a never ending mission to supply myself with enough food for 5 dogs. Unless I stock up, I am picking up sale items at every grocery store sale, and ordering at every opportunity with MPC or with local raw feeding groups. So to start out my year I decided to give myself a break from constant shopping and to order from all possible avenues at the same time and estimate the maximum capacity of my 2 chest freezers and 1/2 of my kitchen refrigerator's freezer space as well. First I started by cleaning out and reorganizing my freezer space. Then, I stocked to the absolute brim of my storage capacity. Even expanding to some dehydrated dry goods in my vitals vault as well.

Here's a list of my inventory when I was fully loaded.

Frozen Goods
12 bags of 4 chicken feet
2- 3 gallon ziplock bags of deer organ and muscle meat
4 -1 gallon ziplock bags of deer bones
50lbs of 1 lb bags of ground beef
3 - 10lb bags of beef heart chunks
2  - 5lb bags of beef lung
3 - 5lb bags of young beef chunksw/bone
4 bags 1 beef tongue each
12- 4inch cut pieces of beef trachea
 6- 1/2lb tubs of ground whole duck
30lbs of duck necks
12lbs of ground turkey
2 -3packs of turkey necks
4- 1/2 pound tubs of ground turkey necks (with ground bone)
1lb chicken liver
3 small whole chickens
30lbs of chicken thighs
30lbs of chicken in pieces sorting into 5lb bags.including necks, backs, thighs, and wings
2 - 1lb bags of rabbit feet
30lbs of lamb hearts
2 - 2lb tubs of ground lamb supreme mix- contains lamb breast and ribs, liver, heart, tripe, kidney
20lbs white roughy (fish) fillets
2-2lb tubs of course ground whole whiting(fish)
10lbs bison rib bones
12lbs bison heart
10bs bison liver
12 small cut beef marrow bones
1 package of cheapo cheese filled hot dogs - for use as training treats(cut into small pieces when used)
Dry Goods
1-1/2lb bag bone meal
1/2lb dehydrated duck feet
16oz dried lamb liver
"carnivore trail mix"-dehydrated beef tripe, chicken liver, beef trachea and organs
Canine wellness blend -herbal supplement- I also have the feline blend
Sojo's turkey dog food mix - my new choice over kibble for non-raw friendly pet sitters
Zukes mini naturals training treats
Natural Balance biscuits in regular and small breed size. I like the small breed size for training treats.
2 cans of pumkin
2 cans of salmon
1 jar each of dried kale, tomatoes and basil from my garden.

(side note: my 2 cats also feast on this mother load of meat)

My sources:
-Big Dan's - can't beat the prices
-My Pet Carnivore-(MPC)rare finds and meat purchases you can feel good about, like free range and grass fed lamb
-Pothoffs-No web link for this one. A local group of raw feeders orders over the phone from here in bulk about every 3 months
-My local grocery store and farmers markets.
-A farmer friend- Know your farmers people! When they over load their freezers with heart and liver and bone they just might call you to unload it!
A friend with a hunting license and/or a friend who hit a deer on the road and had it butchered.
NOTE: Use caution when taking food from hunters. Avoid meat killed with lead shot or use with caution. Lead shot scatters throughout the meat and ends up in what your dog (or you) could be eating. Lead poisoning can be serious especially if ingested by a small animal. I see birds, most often bald eagles, suffering from it all to often at work. Bald Eagles feast on gut piles left out by hunters, or on deer that the shooter never found. When the eagles ingest the lead it poisons them and they often die even when they are lucky enough to be found and taken to a proper rehabilitation and veterinary care center. Here is a video clip of my boss talking about the eagles in the MRP flight cage right now.

 But enough about eagles......
                 I wont be shopping for dog food for a while yet. Thank goodness!
                                                                   Nothing like the feeling of being all stocked up! 

Dog craft 

Check it out! This is an old couch cushion cleverly disguised as a dog bed thanks to a coffee bean bag. I threw this couch out a over year ago but kept the cushions. When I realized the coffee bean bag fit perfectly over top a new dog bed was born. I picked up this coffee bean bag-yes actually used to transport coffee beans in- at my local bean roasting coffee house.

 As promised Wonder dog in her monster sweater......
My little monster

Wonder Dog in her reflective/waterproof coat
     Miles received this robe as a gift from my boss who got it in a gift exchange. It was too small for any of her dogs. It is utterly hilarious to see him lounging around in a robe. I'm sure he will grow out of it soon. Miles also got a new collar this week. His black lupine collar has gone missing, and while a few suspects are under suspicion of chewing it off of him during play no evidence has been found. While out on a socializing adventure at a local pet supply store we found a handsome brown, red, white and black plaid (color called Tartan on the website) collar made by Bison Designs. Bison Designs makes survival accessories and other sturdy looking items. This collar seems tough, and appears to be made out of a very similar material as the lupines are. Don't worry, I'll let you know how this collar stands up to 4 dogs and a puppy.
On a related note, I am very thankful for lupine collars guaranteed even if chewed policy. Miles is chewing up his 2nd harness. The 1rst harness I sent back to lupine after it fell apart because he was chewing the seem. They sent me a replacement in no time.
 Here is a few pictures from my walk this morning with a friend and her little poodle. As you can see Miles is not eager to sniff or play with the other dog. But at least he was able to focus on sits and downs and had a nice leash walk with minimal snarking.

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