Monday, September 28, 2009

Free range is the only way to go

My wife’s reading matter is confined to a single subject which can be guessed at when I list a selection of the titles on her bedside table: Chosen by a Horse: How a Broken Horse Fixed a Broken Heart, Talking with Horses and Celebrity Jumping Exercises. When she comes to a passage that interests her she has the endearing habit of reading it aloud to me. I have the no less endearing habit of not listening. Recently, however, she has kept me enthralled with the story of a long-dead and once-celebrated horse that possessed an extraordinary level of intelligence. Beautiful Jim Key (1889–1912) was bred by a former American slave and self-trained veterinarian called William Key, who taught the horse to read, spell, recognise money and do basic arithmetic. When Beautiful Jim Key began to perform these feats in public, he was greeted with scepticism. However, after extensive investigations it became apparent that he not only possessed these skills but also was able to think intuitively and make jokes. Listening to the story of his life, I reflected, not for the first time, on just how blinkered humans are when it comes to the intellectual and emotional capabilities of animals. In my opinion animals experience pretty much the same emotional range as humans. This is true for pets, farm animals and wild animals. It is also true for birds and, for all I know, fish and reptiles, too. My hope is that one day there will be a major backlash against those involved in intensive food production and it will be outlawed. In the meantime, it is important that if we are going to eat meat or feed meat to our pets we make sure that it comes from animals that have enjoyed a reasonable quality of life. It may cost a little bit more but it is worth it. PS This is a picture of one of our own free range pigs sleeping in the sun. PPS For more about Beautiful Jim Key visit

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Raw dog food reduces vet fees

Janet Tobiassen Crosby (what a fantastic name) is a US-based vet who publishes a great deal about canine healthcare and answers questions on the subject for She recently asked her readers: 'Have you noticed a change in your pet's health since starting the bones and raw food method of feeding? In what way?' This is what she said about the response:

"A resounding YES on this one from our viewers. The most common health benefits noted were clean and healthy teeth, fresh breath, and shiny coat. Other benefits noted by some viewers included reduced trouble with anal sac impaction, better weight control, reduction or elimination of allergies (skin and intestinal), and a general increase in vigor/acting much younger than age would indicate."

Further evidence that one of the key benefits of a raw food diet for dogs is that they don't have to visit the vet as often. This, in turn, means lower vet fees. Here's the link:

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Nectar of the Dogs

As far as I can tell there isn't a dog in the world who doesn't love dried liver treats. They are inexpensive and easy to make, too, if you have the time (if you don't, we sell them for £1.99 a bag including p&p). All you do is take the liver, cut it into little cubes and bake them in the oven at a lowish heat until they are - um - dried. Liver shrinks quite a lot, incidentally, so cut roughly 1" cubes. We've been testing different ovens. Vicky has a posh Aga thingy and they come out really, really well in that. She read somewhere that wild dogs prize a prey's liver over everything else - presumably because of the nutrient content. Anyway, dried liver is - without doubt - nectar of the dogs. Oh, hang on, nectar is a drink. Well, you get the idea. I use dried liver treats for training but NOT when I am teaching dogs to come. This is because once they know you have some in your pocket they tend to stick to you like glue.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The aprons have landed...

Hurrah. Our new aprons have landed. Now nothing can stop our cunning World Domination Through Raw Dog Food plan.