BARF diet for pets Thursday, Apr 30 2009 

Note: This post is running simultaneously on EcoWomen–check us out!

BARF is an acronym for Biologically Appropriate Raw Food.  No, it has nothing to do with vomiting, and in fact, most animals on it rarely do!  The diet is based on food you find in your supermarket, your cuttings of things that used to go into your compost pile, and supplements such as cod liver oil, alfalfa and yogurt.

In our house, we call it Bone And Raw Food.  The BARF diet was championed by Australian vet Dr. Ian Billinghurst and has been around for almost twenty years now.  (You can order his small book  The BARF Diet through Amazon.com).  He believes our domesticated pets should be fed the same evolutionary diet they would eat in the wild to mimic the ‘gold standard’ of diets, one which is the most health-promoting.

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The diet is based on the belief that a grain based diet, which dry kibble is mostly composed of, is not biologically sound for your pet.   Studies have shown that diets high in grains and other starches contribute to most degenerative diseases in pets.

Eco Lassie switched to a raw food diet when our German Shephard dog, Angus, was having difficulties with arthritis around the same time the dog food scare ran throughout our nation.  Although Angus has now passed to doggie heaven where it rains bones, he lived to be 13 and was able to run and do stairs until the last week of his life.  His sister, Miss Murray, has been on the diet and is doing well at 15.  Our almost-two year old Spinone, Radar, has been on it since he came to live with us at eight weeks of age and is thriving.

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Why is a raw diet good for your dog or cat? Raw food contains living enzymes and proteins that help your pet’s body function.  Once food is cooked or processed, these die, and digesting other diets stresses the pancreas to produce those same proteins to function.  Enzymes in a raw diet don’t just maintain health, they can repair and restore, too.

Why feed a BARF diet? Pets fed this tend to be free of dental problems, skin issues, eye and ear problems, digestive and bowel problems, kidney and heart problems, pancreas and liver problems, and immune system problems.  They have a hugely reduced chance of developing infections and degenerative diseases.  And they rarely get cancer.  Owners with older dogs who have already developed these problems will see a great reduction and, in some cases, the disappearance altogether of these problems.

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As a pet owner feeding this diet, here are the concrete things I see:

Teeth and Breath: My dogs do not have tartar buildup thanks to the bones they gnaw on.  They also do not have ‘doggie’ breath, but have that nice ‘puppy’ breath young dogs have.

Skin and Coat: We noticed this right away.  Both our our dogs rarely shed, and their coats are healthy and shiny.  Murray has not had any of the raw or ‘hot spot’ issues she was prone to.

Stool Volume and Odor: Both dogs have a reduced volume of stool and there is little, if any, odor.  The stool turns white after a day and as digested protein, disintegrates right back into the ground.  They rarely have digestive issues unless someone feeds them too much cooked fat from the table.

Body Mass: Murray has lost weight, which she needed to do, which puts less strain on her older joints.  Radar is lean and healthy, as the diet increases your pets’ metabolic rate, and thus its healthy life span.

What the diet consists of: Dogs and cats are omnivores; in the wild they scavenge for whatever is available.  This means they eat meats, offal, vegetables, fruits and bones.

60% raw meaty bones( RMB’s)–yes, dogs can eat bones that are RAW, they only splinter when cooked.  I buy pork neck bones, chicken wings and chicken necks in bulk and give them the occasional large beef bone, which they adore.  In the fall, my husband adds venison meat and bones to this mix.

15% crushed veggies and 5% fruits–these MUST be crushed to break down the cell wall.  Dr. Ian says this is to mimic the gut contents of a dog or cat’s prey.  You can use a food processor or a juicer.

10-15% (dogs) and 15-25% (cats) offal–yeah, the tough part.  This is fresh, raw internal organs, such as liver, kidneys, heart and tripe.  EEEW I can hear you saying.

Supplements– cod liver oil adds Omega 3’s and Vitamins; yogurt adds probiotics to aid in digestion.  The raw food diet contains healthy bacteriawhich aid digestion, activite the immune system and promote health.  It’s like a mini vaccination with each meal.  Adding dairy probiotics in yogurt suuplies nutrients such as folic acid, Niacin and the B vitamins.  These are an energy source, increase the ease of digestion, and reduce allergic symptoms and help to prevent allergies.

WATER–dont’ forget to always have fresh water around for your pet. This diet is also high in water content.

What does this boil down to for the average pet owner?  Here’s what we feed our dogs:

Mostly raw meaty bones which means a pork neck bone for ‘breakfast’ andanother in the afternoon or evening.  Their evening meal is either chicken necks or cut up chicken wings, based on their weight. (How to’s on Dr. Ian’s book or online).  I buy these in bulk from our local meat farms and freeze them by a meal’s worth.  Each night when feeding I pull out the next day’s meal to defrost in the fridge.

We save our cuttings from veggies, fruits, and those you would add to to compost pile go instead into a ziplock in the fridge.  We also save our egg shells. Once every few weeks I pick up ground beef, and some chicken livers or kidneys or hearts or other ‘offal.’  I mix the offal in with the leftovers and egg shells and crush it all together. (I use my food processor.)  I add this soupy mix to the beef, add cod liver oil and alfalfa, and make patties which I freeze.  I alternate these patties for meals to change their diet and give them over the course of a month everything they need.  I add plain yogurt and raw eggs here and there to their bowls at a regular feed to vary the taste and add probiotics.

I also use common sense cleaning methods for my utensils and the dishwasher and nightly leave their bowls  soaking filled with soapy water for the next day.

I always have a can of pumpkin on hand; pumpkin is a natural digestive aid and if you feel your dog is straining at bathroom breaks, you can add some to the meat mixture until they get used to this kind of diet.

Is this a lot of work?  On the day we get home from the meat farm, an hour and half to bag.  On the day I make up the patties, another hour of work.  But otherwise I just pull a meal from the freezer and go.

IF you are interested, but either don’t have the butcher/meat farm resources OR can’t imagine putting your hands into a mixing bowl of ground meat/liver/kidney’s with crushed fruits and veg and a bit of cod liver oil thrown in, don’t fret.

The Only Natural Pet Store carries many lines of packaged raw pet food.  Some of the makers are: Primal Pet Foods, Nature’s Variety, Raw Advantage Organic, Bravo Raw, Stella & Chewy’s Frozen Raw, Nature’s Logic Raw, and Raw Advantage.  Some are frozen but most are freeze-dried.  Of course, these prepared foods will cost you a lot more over a month’s time.  So you just might want to put on a pair of gloves!

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Wisteria Sunday, Apr 26 2009 

Wisteria is one of my all-time favorite viney things.

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I love the fragrant purple bunches of grapey flowers, the graceful way they droop and hang.  The wisteria vines at Monet’s Giverny are thick with age, huge clumps of blossoms hanging and swaying over the bright green bridges.

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When Doc and I were building The Briary, we had our shop behind the house put up first.  That way we were on site when the builders were, and we used the shop for storage (and lunch) and kept our garden tools there.  Whilst the men sawed and hammered, we planted and cleared.  One of the first things we put in behind our veggie plot  and walked garden was a lovely wisteria vine.

That was six years ago.  The first year we were rewarded with our tiny vine climbing halfway up the pine tree trunk.  The second year it wrapped itself and greened out gloriously and reached for the top.  My neighbors told me wisteria sometimes doesn’t flower until year 3.  I waited anxiously for my first sighting of purple.

Year Three came and went and still no blooms.  Ditto Year 4.  I confess I gave up.  Then I read an article somewhere saying they were prone to get root bound, and to cut into the earth around the roots, chopping them up, to stimulate growth.  I read the article to Doc and he obliged one hot and sweaty day. The wild wisteria that blooms effortlessly along our highways mocked me.

Year 5–no flowers.  I thought of the wisteria at The Parsonage in Oxford, wrapping itself up the building, one of my favorite places for High Tea, and how I’d tried bring a tiny bit of that memory to our home.  Theirs is lovely:

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Last week Doc got the good news that his knee fx’s were healed.  PT is aggressive now, new machines being utilized, exercises increased, sitting in wheelchair time increased as his pelvic fx heals, too.  We are determined to get him walking normally, or as close to it as possible.  The news obviously put both of us in a good mood.  That evening when I was talking on the phone to a friend in Florida, I wandered to our front porch.  And looked toward the garden.  And saw this:

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Whoops of hollering and delight abounded.  It’s not the Parsonage or Giverny, but we at least have a chance to get there.

I thought of persevering and the hard work Doc is doing to walk again.  I thought of how I’d given up on this plant until Nature showed me what it had in store for me.  I thought that although I’m not highly superstitious, just a tad, that this was The Big Guy’s way of showing me not to give up.  Ever.  And that this week’s news was the portent of Good Things to Come.

As evidenced by my blooming wisteria.

The Birthday Present Tuesday, Apr 21 2009 

Barbara Vine is England’s treasured author, Ruth Rendell, one of the Golden Three of English Women novelists who also happen to be friends: Rendell, PD James and Frances Fyfield.  Now Baroness Rendell of Babergh (hey, I don’t know how the Queen comes up with these titles!), you may know her from her string of psychological crime thrillers or her best-selling series featuring Chief Insp. Reg Wexford and his family, which has also been serialized by the BBC and seen  in the US on Mystery!

Winner of three Edgar’s and four Gold Dagger Awards for her novels, Rendell is an accomplished author no matter which of her names she writes under.

The Birthday Gift is a crime novel with the unusual twist of not being about a murder at all.  Rather, it centers on the unraveling of a British MP, Ivor Tesham, whose idea of a birthday present for his mistress–to have her ‘kidnapped’ on the street, trussed up and brought to him for a night of sexual fantasy–goes horribly wrong.

It’s told in the beginning from the viewpoint of Ivor’s brother-in-law, a family man who is often repulsed by his in-law’s actions and sometimes cavalier attitude, while still trying to be supportive to his wife, the cad’s sister.  Halfway through, Vine adds the point of view of a spinster who has fallen is love with the dead woman’s cuckolded husband.

There is no great mystery here, other than watching how the big man will fall as the years pass and he thinks he is safe, and yet Vine is such a capable author, she reels the reader in and you feel compelled to see the story unfold.  Twice I thought I would put it aside as I knew there was no surprise ending; twice I picked it up until I’d finished it.

This is not a page turner, but rather a study in characters, done in a mild, mannerly way which disguises the awful hubris man can possess.  It also provides an interesting view into Parliament and the daily life of an rising MP.

Hamish Sunday, Apr 19 2009 

Hamish is our resident ghost.  Doc named him because I love that name for some peculiar reason and wanted to name our puppy that.  “Radar” won out, and by naming our ghost Hamish, he thinks he has nipped that one in the bud for any future animals we might own.

My Google Images won’t upload any pictures today due to rain, but I picture him along the lines of friendly Casper, a nebulous, jolly child, not scary or threatening.

He manifests himself in creaky noises we’ve thought were coming from inside the wall of our bedroom.    We’ve gotten quite used to him over the two years or so he’s been with us, and one or the other will ask if perhaps Hamish could cook dinner tonight, or bring us breakfast in bed.

It was only last night when I was putting Doc’s winter robe away in a vintage armoire we have against that wall that the secret of Hamish was revealed.  The piece in question is an English wardrobe by Ambrose Heal, an Arts and Crafts designer and craftsman who made furniture between 1896 and the 1950’s.

Hand-finished weathered oak, probably from around the time of WWI, it has a right hand door which opens and allows the middle mirrored door to open, revealing slide out shelves on top and five drawers on the bottom.  The left hand door which opens to a section with a bar, which is where we keep our robes.

It seems if this left hand door is not tightly screwed shut, it will gape just enough to creak on its vintage hinges, producing our ‘ghost.’  It doesn’t swing open, which is why we hadn’t figured it out before.

I’m almost sorry I found the cause–I think I’ll keep it to myself.  It’s much more fun having a non-threatening ghost in the house!

For those of you keeping track, Doc is coming along slowly but steadily.  He’s using a Wii game in physical therapy which told him Friday his balance was that of a 75 year old man!  He’s working on it.  But every day he walks a few steps more, and sits up a bit longer in his wheelchair.  He is regularly getting up for an hour for dinner right now, and today sat on the porch in the sun before the rain came, whilst I trimmed his hair and watched the purple martins at play.

I’ve told him his goal is to be reasonably independent by the end of June, when I will leave him with Mom for a week to go to Utah this year for my Screw Iowa Writers Group conference.  Check us out on http://www.screwiowa.com.

And enjoywhat’s left of  your weekend~

Lost in Fiction Saturday, Apr 11 2009 

is the title of an interesting article Auntie M read recently in the Wall St. Journal. It was an essay written by one of my favorite authors, Alexander McCall Smith of the 44 Scotland St series and the Sunday Philosophy Club series, plus two others. (His No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency is currently being shown on HBO with Anthony Mingella directing Jill Scott as the protagonist.  Too bad I don’t get HBO–it sounds delightful.)

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He described the circumstance of finding himself in Australia at a book signing, and running into a ‘fan’ who thought he’d erred in having one of his main characters become involved with (and have a child with) a man 14 years her junior.  Here’s an excerpt:

I defended Isabel’s choice.  “Why shouldn’t they be together?”

The answer came quickly.  “Because it’s not going to go anywhere.”

“But I thought it was going rather well,” I protested.

Again my reader lost no time in replying.  “No, it isn’t,” she said emphatically.

That was my put in my place.  After all, I was merely the author.

Nonplussed, McCall Smith has pondered on this issue of the novelist’s freedom–and responsibility–and he concludes that the real world is not  quite as separate from the fictional world as he’d originally thought when it comes to reader expectations.

Auden is one of the critics who noticed this pattern of reader expectations, which is one writers of crime or mystery fiction have long understood.  After a peaceful beginning, the peace is shattered by an event, usually a crime or murder, which leads to a search for the evildoer.  His apprehension and punishment provide a return to peace.  Auden  noted the reader needs to see a moral balance restored.

This view is also held by my favorite crime writer, P D James, who feel the traditional detective novel “reassures us that we live in a moral universe” where the detective is the agent of justice.  She suggests that in this respect the detective novel replaces the old-fashioned morality play.

So why is the writer of mysteries or detective fiction, as I am, pressured to deal out justice to the bad guys?  It goes beyond the conventions of the genre to a point where Mc Call says: “. . . fiction is in some sense real, and that what happens to fictional people is, in a curious way, happening in the real world.”  It takes a special writer to NOT have the bad guy apprehended and still maintain an audience.  (McCall Smith mentions Patricia Highsmith’s Tom Ripley as one who gets away with murder and continued to be read.)

There is no question that when I am writing, I am hoping my reader will suspend his disbelief and enter the world I create and treat it as real.   I spend a lot of time creating a fictional world that exists within the boundaries of reality so that it will be recognizable to my readers.  But if I create a character who is a murderer and say, also happens to be a lesbian, does that mean I feel lesbians are more capable of murder than others?  Absolutely not.  As matter of history, in the first draft of the particular novel where that happens, the murderer was someone else entirely!  It was during revision that I realized a different character had a much better, and more interesting, motive to be behind the evil acts.

I do go along with the idea of wanting justice restored.  I am known to hate unfairness of any kind.  I am a Libra, after all, and the scales of justice should be equally aligned for me to be happy.  I just don’t want to meet a reader who objects to a particular viewpoint I give to a character, assuming that to be my own personal belief.

I will have to protest firmly,  as McCall Smith suggests: “Remember, it’s just a story.”

Patience and Fortitude Sunday, Apr 5 2009 

Green Girl remarked recently that she was reading about the NY Navy Pier and wished she’d been able to tour there when she was in NYC last year.  She minded me how fortunate Auntie M is to have once lived there and seen the glories that international city has to offer.

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Auntie M loves the New York Public Library and its Lions guarding the main entrance.  They were namedPatience and Fortitude by Fiorello LaGuardia  as the two qualities New Yorkers exhibited that would help them out of the Depression.  At Christmas they are usually garlanded with enormous wreaths around their necks.

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The glorious architecture of the Great Hall alone is worth a pop inside to check it out.  On its right hand side is also a compact but interesting gift shop you can visit without entering the library proper.

Auntie M favorite bit is the magnificent reading room with its unparelled ceiling, the rows upon rows of work tables, now renovated to include plug-ins for laptops–these all make me feel even with the Internet and E-publishing there will always be books in this world.

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So I picked up Linda Fairstein’s newest Alexandra Cooper novel this week with great expectation, as the murder that savvy DA is helping to solve has taken place within the hallowed halls of this great library.  And I haven’t been disappointed.

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A novelist of lesser sway would never get away with throwing this much extraneous history into a book, but Lethal Legacy is Fairstein’s eleventh Cooper novel, so she gets carte blanche on this.

The mystery in this case revolves around the death of a talented young conservator, but in all honesty, the story is not the main character.   The pace is slow but the novel is rich with detailed descriptions of the interior of this lovely building and even more interestingly, of the history behind it.  The infighting between collectors, library trustees and wealthy donors is probably very close to the reality of the situation.  Fairstein must have the ear of quite a few insiders.

Fairstein recounts the layout of the huge building so well you can almost feel yourself traveling down to the lower stacks, where the books are sent up on pneumatic tubes to a central call desk.  This is not a lending library, but a great research center, known throughout the world, and how it came to be that way is largely due to its wealthy endowers at the beginning of the 20th century trying to compete with ancient European libraries.

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Few New Yorkers realize the stacks continue along under Bryant Park, which borders the library grounds.  As they gather there for relaxation by the fountain, concerts on the lawn, or ice skating in winter, they are treading above the millions of books stored beneath their feet.

Fairstein ran the Sex Crimes Unit of the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office for over twenty years, so the workings inside the case are also spot on.  If you enjoy learning about historical places in the midst of a modern mystery, give this one a read.

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dru's book musings

Reading is a wonderful adventure!

JoHanna Massey

"I tramp a perpetual journey." Walt Whitman

MiddleSisterReviews.com

(mid'-l sis'-tǝr) n. the reader's favorite sister

My train of thoughts on...

Smile! Don't look back in anger.

Make

make Your House a home

K.R. Morrison, Author

My author site--news and other stuff about books and things

Wicked Cozy Authors

Mysteries with a New England Accent

Some Days You Do ...

Writers & Writing, my own & other people's; movies, art, music & the search for a perfect flat white - the bits & pieces of a writing life.

Gaslight Crime

Author and reviewer of period crime fiction

Crimezine

#1 for Crime

Mellotone70Up

John Harvey on Books & Writing - his own & other people 's - Art, Music, Movies, & the elusive search for the perfect Flat White.

A thrilling Murder-Mystery...

...now being made into a radio drama

BOOK SHELF

"Tell me and I forget-Show me and I remember-Involve me and I learn"

Past Offences: Classic crime, thrillers and mystery book reviews

The best mystery and crime fiction (up to 1987): Book and movie reviews

forensics4fiction

Forensics demystified for the fiction writer

milliewonka

Just another WordPress.com site

Eco Women: Protectors of the Planet!

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