Archive for May, 2011

You may remember Storm, the dog I wrote about in “The prisoner next door,” who was confined by himself for two years in a fenced kennel in a far corner of his owner’s back yard. Last week, someone installed a very long tie-out for him and hooked him up to it. Storm is able to run from one corner of the yard to another and plays with the owner’s other dog (who lives in the house) when she lets him into the yard. Sometimes a neighbor walks over while working in his yard and gives Storm a little petting. While not an ideal situation, the tie-out is a huge improvement in the quality of Storm’s life. He’s finally getting some attention, affection and play time with another animal. He’s barking less often. And I have been able to stop cringing everytime he does bark, knowing that he is a much happier dog than he used to be.

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Brownie enjoyed her two meals of Oma’s Pride raw pet food, in this case a mix of  turkey and vegetables. But instead of buying more of that, I bought five pounds of chicken thighs on sale for 99 cents a pound (because they were one day away from their freshness expiration date) some sweet potatoes and some green beans. I put the chicken thighs in a big pot and boiled them for an hour, then added the sweet potatoes. Half an hour after that, the green beans went in for the final 15 minutes. I drained the liquid (saving it, of course) and let everything cool down.

When cool, I removed the meat from the chicken, mixed it up with the potatoes and beans and spooned portions into freezable, microwave-safe containers. For dinner now, instead of throwing a cup of kibble into her bowl, I remove an already defrosted container of the chicken mix and warm it briefly in the microwave. Brownie loves it and continues licking her bowl long after the food is gone.

I know that cooking and microwaving the food eliminates some of the qualities that make raw food so healthy. But it’s still a very big improvement over the highly processed kibble. I stretch the portions by adding my own leftovers to them, from cottage cheese to cabbage slaw, a fried egg or a few strawberries. The whole process took very little time and is less costly than buying the commercial preparation.  In return, I get the pleasure of seeing how excited Brownie is about her dinners, and imagine her enjoyment of all those flavors, aromas and textures. So we’re at half-kibble, half-homemade food. It seems like a good balance.

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Paracats in training. Photo illustration by Holly Allen, photograph by Giuseppe Cacace/AFP/Getty Images

The headline, “Cats of War,” is a sure-fire attention-getter, and the photos
about this “top-secret” U.S. military program look terrific.  It seems immediately obvious now that the Slate article is a joke, but I didn’t get it until photo number 4.
I missed the clue in the first photo, whose caption claimed that “Studies show they can survive nine times as long as human soldiers.” It wasn’t until Photo #4, shown above, that I caught on after reading that cats don’t need parachutes because they always land on their feet.
 Training cats to follow orders – What was I thinking?

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