Sunday, January 11, 2009

Mortal danger regardless

It's been a tough couple of weeks if you're a Chesapeake Bay Retriever. Or, more accurately, if you're our Chesapeake Bay Retriever, Jet. Our beloved pup is, unfortunately, no stranger to health concerns, as she has suffered from seizures and other woes since she was very young. Those things are beyond her (and our) control and we do whatever we must to improve her quality of life and well-being. Indeed, she has been doing very well of late: seizure free for more than eight months, and healthy as a horse otherwise.

Ornery trouble-making Jet, however, is not one to allow her good health to get in the way of her bad behavior. When she is doing well, physically, Jet will find a way to get herself into some mortal danger regardless, just to keep us on our toes (and the local vet hospital in business). And so it was that five days before Christmas, while Husband and I were out doing some shopping, Jet decided to eat no fewer than 16 Christmas candles. Not tapers; no, those would be too small. She ate an entire candle nativity set, a cherished keepsake that had been in my family for 40 years. She also snacked on eight evergreen tree-shaped candles, some of which were seven inches tall. And to add insult to waxy injury, she topped off her late-afternoon candle repast with a small stuffed snowman, felt hat and all. 

To make an agonizing story short, she ended up requiring surgery two days later when it was determined that the candles weren't, um, going anywhere. Lucky for us, she is -- as we like to call her -- the healthiest sickest dog we've ever known, and she bounced back very quickly.  Even with a foot-long gash in her stomach and more staples than we cared to count. At least she left the incision alone and we didn't have to subject her to the lampshade of shame. It was challenging to keep her "quiet" and without any exercise for two full weeks, but she did it and she's back to her normal rabble-rousing ways. In fact, as I write this from Mom and Dad's house, she is tooling around the living room sniffing at candles. She will never learn.

I planned to share this dog treat recipe before Christmas, as it makes wonderful doggie stocking stuffers and is a great one to bake and give as gifts to your dog-loving friends. Yes, it was a wonderful plan. But you know what they say about the best-laid plans....I was so focused on getting her home in one piece, albeit three large bags of chewed candle wax lighter, that I couldn't even think about baking treats. So instead I present these carob crunchers to you today, in the frosty doldrums of January, when your furry friend could probably use a little homemade excitement anyway.

Jet, for her part, is happy to snack on these treats whatever month it is. And I, for my part, am just grateful that what she's eating is actually edible and intended for canine stomachs.


Adapted from Paula Moran's recipe

Human-grade bone meal is available at health-food stores and stores that sell nutritional supplements. I get mine at the Mustard Seed Market, and one container lasts a very, very long time. Just make sure you get human-grade, and not plant-grade. You can also find carob powder at such stores.

2 c. whole wheat flour
1/4 c. carob powder
1 t. human-grade bone meal
2 T. safflower or soy oil
2 T. honey
3/4 c. soy or dairy milk (I prefer soy)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a large bowl, combine the whole wheat flour, carob powder and bone meal. Whisk together to combine. Add the remaining ingredients and stir together with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon. When the mixture gets too thick to mix with a spatula or spoon, bring it together with your hands into a ball. The dough will be stiff.

Sprinkle the counter top with flour and roll out the dough to 1/4-inch thickness. Cut into shapes using the cookie cutter of your choice; I like the good old-fashioned dog bone shape. You can also simply cut them into squares if you don't want to mess with cookie cutters.

Place close together but not touching on an ungreased baking sheet; re-roll dough scraps to cut more treats. Bake for 20 minutes, then turn off the oven and leave the treats in the oven until cool. Store at room temperature in air-tight containers.

Makes about 2 dozen treats, depending on the cookie cutter.

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