Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Why your dog doesn't need crunchy food...

On the first night of my French Exchange (what a harrowing three weeks that was) the father of the family where I had been imprisoned became somewhat intoxicated and long after the rest of us were abed could be heard singing in the kitchen. At 2am he began to shout: 'Voltaire, au panier! Victor Hugo, au panier! De Saint Exupéry, au panier!' He must be seeing dead writers and philosophers the way other people see pink elephants, I thought to myself, as I attempted to sleep. Odd, though, that he should be trying to get them into a basket. I made a joke of it, in my broken (oh, OK, pathetic) French, at breakfast next morning to the considerable amusement of all present. Voltaire, Victor Hugo and De Saint Exupéry being the family's three Spaniels.

Why am I waffling on about this? Because the experience prepared me for dogs with unusual names. And so when a prospective customer called today to talk about her Dachshunds - Darwin and Hooker (no, no, not what you think, named for the famous 19th Century biologist) - I was not taken by surprise.

I convinced my caller that a raw diet would be better for her dogs but she was harder to persuade when it came to not adding mixer. 'They need it,' she kept saying, 'because they want something to chew on.' Well, we discussed it a good bit and in the end I dropped the subject because I could tell I was causing irritation (or maybe I should say more irritation than usual). The truth is, however, that dogs don't need mixer, kibble or biscuits in with their food because unlike we humans dogs don't chew much. Their teeth are designed to tear meat of the bone not to - um - masticate. That's why you see dogs gulping down their food. Their primary objective is to get it into their stomach as quickly as possible in order to start digesting it. There are lots of other reasons not to feed dogs mixer, kibble or biscuit, not least the fact that they shouldn't be eating more than a tiny amount of grain. Also, what they really want for their teeth and to exercise their jaws and upper body is bones. Foam rubber, incidentally, is not considered good for dogs. Just thought I would mention it.

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