Read Part One here
Toby never got the experience of eating like a dingo in the wild. he never got raw chicken wings or turkey necks, though he might have gotten the occasional bit of raw liver. by the time Lo started pressing books on me about the BARF diet (bones and raw food), toby was too sick to experiment on. by that point, we were feeding him whatever he wanted: boiled chicken, frozen yogurt, Irish stew. anything to get calories into him; he was losing weight fast.
as doug points out, though, toby wouldn't have lived his life any other way--certainly not without the bacon grease, the peapods, the cardboard dishes of vanilla soft-serve ice cream after a swim in twin ponds with my good friend (and toby's good friend) sporty. (see photo above.)
twice in his life he got an entire hamburger, both times still warm from the grill. once he ate an entire stick of butter, though that was a mistake. (he unwrapped it nicely, though, and left the perfectly flat and unmarred waxed paper wrapping in the middle of my kitchen floor.)
he had a happy, foody life. chasing tennis balls kept him fit.
but boscoe. boscoe was young enough to experiment on. it was clear that boscoe's diet wasn't doing it for him. he had digestive problems. he ate like a starving man. he was a tad overweight. and then we got riley, and i really wanted to give riley a better start in life than i had toby. at least gastronomically speaking. i didn't want another dog dying at 12 of heart disease.
so i studied lo's books about cleansing the toxins out of a dog's system, and buying raw meat in bulk, maybe joining a raw-meat-buying dog-owner cooperative, and, not surprisingly, i said, forget it. a girl could devote her life to this. there's got to be something in between.
so i switched dogfoods. there are kibble brands that are almost as good as raw meat--they have active enzymes, and no grains (dogs don't need and can't process corn, for instance, which is often a main ingredient in cheaper dogfoods), and some of them contain lovely things like blueberries and salmon and Yukon gold potatoes. reading the labels always made me hungry for a three-course dinner, with dessert.
i studied up, reading a piece in Whole Dog Journal that scared the bejeezus out of me. no more corn!
i found a petfood store 10 miles away that carries better food, and i burned a lot of gas driving out there to shop.
we tried different brands. riley ate them all, and he loved everything he ate. he's part Lab, and he has that Lab cast-iron stomach. makes no difference to me! he says.
not boscoe. most of the high-grade, expensive, organic, yuppie, hand-crafted-in-small-batches dogfood made him sick. it took trial and error, but we began to understand that with boscoe, the fewer ingredients the better. (which is kind of sad, considering that no dog loves food more than boscoe.)
so we settled for a while on California Natural, which contains only lamb and rice. nothing else. mild, yet healthful. boscoe flourished. stopped farting (mostly). riley didn't really care. makes no difference to me! he said, and happily ate whatever we put in his bowl.
and for a couple of years, that's where we stayed.
but Lo was persistent. and every time we took care of Sara, boscoe and riley looked longingly at her turkey necks and chicken wings, and then gave us the big sad-eyed stare that they worked together in their off-hours to perfect.
something had to give.
we went on vacation, leaving riley and boscoe in the excellent care of Lo and her husband and dogs. when we came back, Lo had some momentous news for us. "i fed riley and boscoe raw while you were gone," she said.
i felt a jolt. "what happened?"
"they loved it."
"he didn't get sick. he loved it. riley loved it too."
the world was starting to close in around me. i saw raw meat--tons of raw meat--in my future.
TO BE CONTINUED
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