Guinness has always been a pretty intense dog. He likes other dogs – a lot – but his enthusiasm can be more than a little overwhelming. He hadn’t learned to play nicely before he came to us, and if I had to guess I’d say he was either badly or barely socialised as a pup, so we’ve spent a lot of time and energy getting him to a good place with other dogs. He still barks more than we’d like, and he can still get a little too… uh… zealous… but he’s come a long, long way. We learned a long time ago that dog parks are not for him, and he does best in small groups with well-balanced dogs. (The one exception – Happy Hounds in Halifax dog daycare, which is an awesome place that both dogs love).
Kaylee is nearly the exact opposite. She’s a well-socialised, adaptable, friendly and generally happy-go-lucky pup, who adapts well to the play styles of others… but if given a choice, she’ll choose people over dogs 100% of the time. No question. Playing with pooches is fine, but other dogs don’t have hands for petting and scratching and “oooooh-yeah-that’s-the-spot” moments. People are Kaylee’s favourite people, as it were.
So for us, the best play time is a play date.
Guinness and Kaylee have a couple of well-balanced, awesome canine friends that they enjoy meeting up with for some backyard shenanigans or an off-leash walk, but their favourite place to play is at a local ball field. In the winter, the city turns a select number of baseball parks into off-leash dog parks, and this is where they get their zoomies out! One of their newer friends is Indy, a two year old mix who has boundless energy… she runs my two under the table, and they’re ruined before she’s barely broken a sweat.
For the longest time, Guinness couldn’t get his head around the idea that lots of dogs like to be chased, but not that many really like to be caught. Guinness is fast, and he can be a rough player, so he was always bringing thimgs to an abrupt end. Now, he’s finally figured out that body-slamming your playmate to the ground might not be the best way to make friends. (Except for Kaylee, who freaking loves that. I missed the moment on camera, but at one point, while Guinness was chasing Indy, out of nowhere Kaylee headed him off and just plowed him straight into the grass. It was hilarious, particularly with the smug “that’s for the last 1000 times, a$$^&*#!” look on her face. )
As soon Indy hits hit the field, it’s a mad dash to see who can catch who… Kaylee’s a lot slower, but she makes up for it plucky determination (and wears herself out in the process).
And of course, we take a few breaks here and there for rests, water, and t-r-e-a-t-s…
In the end, we have two tired dogs, and uh.. well Indy takes the edge off, anyway…
(That’s not Kaylee panting, by the way… that’s Guinness, sitting under the camera!)
A good day of play makes for a happy dog. Or in this case, three happy dogs.
Kaylee played a little too hard this time out and has a little limp, but she’ll be fine in a couple days… but until then, I get to deal with this face.
It’s New Years Resolution season and it seems everyone around me has sworn off baked goods and bacon (blasphemy!) and all things chocolate-covered. A few days ago I was having a conversation with a friend about healthier baking … not dog treats, exactly, but just baked deliciousness in general, and what level of sacrifice is necessary to turn good things into slightly-less-delicious-but-much-healthier things (note: if you believe raisins are an acceptable substitute for chocolate chips in a cookie, you can get the $!&% out right now, because you’re not welcome here).
I was lamenting my general lack of culinary skills in this area when my friend said – rather innocently – “it’s not that hard… just throw some things in a bowl. It’ll work out.”
Now, this friend bakes. And I mean she really bakes. Her cookies are the kind that make angels weep with joy. Mine? Hahahahahaha. The idea of “throwing some things in a bowl” and expecting them to come out as any kind of edible creation is pretty much an impossible dream for me. It’s like when you ask your grandmother for the recipe for your favourite cake, and it’s always “a little of this, and some of that” and then next thing you know you’re standing in a disaster zone of flung coco powder and spilled milk, having a weepy meltdown on your kitchen floor because you’ll never be able to replicate your grandmother’s recipe and why couldn’t she just use a @#^%#*! measuring cup?! WHY?!
But I digress.
Anyway, the whole conversation got me thinking about expectations. I would normally have high expectations for myself, but reality has set in as far as the kitchen is concerned. I am, as they say, hopeless. But my dogs… their expectations are very low. In fact, they have none at all really… homemade cookies? Awesome! Store-bought treats? Awesome! Random scraps off your plate? Awesome! Goo on the side of the road? Probably awesome but Mom’s a jerk and won’t let me taste it. Thanks Mom.
So what harm could it do to “throw some things in a bowl” and see how it works out?
A quick once-over of my fridge, freezer and pantry revealed… that I need groceries, mostly, but also turned up a couple of yummy options for treat ingredients.
Chicken – specifically freezer-burned chicken from the bottom of the freezer. Ew, right? Except that freezer burn only affects the taste (not the nutritional value or the safety) of chicken and once it’s boiled, chopped, and baked into a cookie do you really think your dog is going to care?
Cheese – my dogs love cheese. I could put cheese on literally anything and they’d eat it. I feel like these cookies might need the help.
Eggs… because binding agent, and also cookies.
Water… no wait, chicken stock! Oooooooh fancy……
Armed with what would surely be a non-recipe for disaster… we started.
I started with the cheese because it was the easiest… although it did attract some attention from the peanut gallery.
I’ll spare you the boiled chicken photos because… blech. It’s a really attractive process. Two full chicken breasts amount to about 1.5 cups of chopped chicken, which of course had to be sampled to ensure the dogs didn’t mind a little freezer burn.
I added the egg and tried to decide where to start with the flour, since I’m literally making this up as I go along..
I started with a cup and a half of flour, which seemed reasonable, and added a 1/4 cup of chicken stock to moisten things up. That was too dry, so in went another 1/4 cup of chicken stock, but then that was too wet (of course) so I added another half cup of flour, roughly, and mushed it around and then it kind of looked right-ish so I figured that was close enough.
The usual process followed… got flour everywhere (including up my nose, somehow, and completely unknowingly, which caused some serious concern when I sneeze later and flour came out), rolled out the dough, got it stuck to the rolling pin, cursed a lot, pried it off, started again, got more flour everywhere, sighed, considered evaluating my life choices, got the dough rolled out, and searched for an appropriate cookie cutter. The dough was still pretty sticky, so I opted out of the cute bones and found a simple heart-shaped cutter instead. And then I started cutting.
And I cut, and I cut… and I cut and cut and sweet baby jeebus how many cookies did I accidentally make?
144, it turns out. And I turfed some of the dough because I ran out of space on the trays. I think 160 or 170 was probably where we would have landed.
I popped them in the oven at 350, cause… 350 seemed about right? I checked on them every 5 minutes and at about the 25 minute mark they were “done” (and by “done” I mean “slightly-harder-than-I-anticipated-but-still-not-browned-wtf-you-know-what-they’re-fine”).
Of course, the true test is always whether the dogs will eat them, and how enthusiastic they are about seconds.
The first taste is always a little hesitant… they may be dogs but they also know my baking skills. In the end, though, I think they turned out just fine… because the dogs love them, so who cares about the rest?
Note to self… work on Kaylee’s catching skills.
I can’t imagine anyone will ever want to make these, but hey, just in case…
2 cups flour, plus some for rolling out your dough
1/2 cup chicken stock
Preheat oven to 350 degrees (F).
Mix chicken, cheese, egg, flour and chicken stock together in a bowl, adding more flour as necessary until you get a cookie-dough like texture.
Roll out dough on floured counter to 1/4″ thick and try not to pitch the whole thing into the garbage as you fight with the dough.
Cut into shapes (depending on the size of your dog, you may want to go larger or smaller)
Place on parchment-lined baking sheet and bake approx 20-25 minutes, or until cookies harden. Allow to cool.
Makes approx 150, 1″ diameter cookies. Each cookie is approximately 15 calories.
Christmas and New Years have come and gone, and we are enjoying a late week of vacation here at our house. Unfortunately, we had a crazy busy December, and with it came the inevitable post-holiday hangover, where we’re all unreasonably tired and sloth-like and it’s the 5th of January and I JUST got the live tree down and oh-my-God-it’s-Thursday-already-and-vacation-is-almost-over-aaaahhhhhhh…… I’d like to say we’ve been packing in as many adventures into the last week as possible, but the truth is we’ve been doing a lot of sleeping, snuggling, and Netflix-watching. Still, the dogs don’t seem to mind too much.
There’s been napping…
… and cuddling of all sorts…
… there’s been the prerequisite stuffy destruction…
…and in between the bouts of general laziness we managed a few walks and trips to the park, of course…
It’s been a rough couple of months, with the dogs getting out a little less than usual, but they never fail to be their loveable selves. I’m so grateful we got impossibly lucky not once, but twice, with two amazing rescues.
I’m loathe to go back to work on Monday and leave their smushy faces behind!