Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Story of The Liver (Alternate title: How I Battled My Gag Reflex and Won....Barely)

On September 19th, after two dog-free years, we added a sweet little 8 pound puppy to our family.  He grabbed our hearts immediately with his floppy ears and howling bark and big brown eyes.  He was 4 1/2 months old at the time and his name was Elvis.  After countless discussions (he was briefly named Fredo), we changed the name to Charlie.

I keep calling him Charlie Tuna.

Rachel calls him Charlie Tuna Casserole.

He is starting to have an identity crisis.  He might need therapy.

His transition was pretty smooth, other than the kennel cough that showed up during his first week at home.  After 2 weeks on antibiotics, he's happy and healthy again.

Our previous dog, Page, loved Daddy the most.  This little guy is a total Momma's boy.  Not that I'm complaining.  His presence is comforting....I love to hear the clink-clink of his ID tags as he follows me around the house.  He has a belly that begs to be scratched and his ears are so big that they nearly cover his eyes when he looks down at the floor.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *

Pagie died two years ago with a heart full of love but a tummy full of cancerous tumors.  Was there anything we could have done to prevent that?  Probably not.  Does that keep me from second-guessing every minute we spent with her?  No.  We were first-time dog owners and I'm sure we made more than a handful of mistakes.  Early in the morning, while Charlie and I walk the neighborhood, I find myself thinking of Page and silently promising to do better this time.

The thing is, I'm a little nutty and neurotic.  (STOP LAUGHING.)  Okay...I'm a LOT nutty and neurotic.  I have this undeniable urge to protect Charlie and do everything I can to keep him healthy and safe.

So I've decided to make my own dog food.

I'll give you a moment to compose yourself......

Seriously?  Holding your gut and falling to the floor?  Don'tcha think you're being a little dramatic?

I'll spare you the exhaustive details of my research.  Suffice to say that dog food consists of all the sh*t that's not fit for human consumption.  Plus lots of inexpensive fillers that have no nutritional value.  I know...I know....plenty of dogs eat commercial dog food and live to be happy, healthy, faithful, grey-haired companions.  I'm not saying that you're a terrible person if you use commercial food.  I'm not saying that you love your pet any less.  I'm not saying that I'm somehow better than you.  I'm just saying that we wanted to take a different road this time.  We knew that some of Charlie's diet would consist of dry food.  So, Nick and I did lots and lots (and lots and lots) of internet research to come up with a brand that was consistently top-rated and repeatedly recommended.  And the list of ingredients includes lots of things that are actual food!  Yay for food!  Yay for being able to pronounce and understand the ingredient list!  Yay for not feeding my dog cow brains!

Here's the problem.  It ain't cheap.  He's a little pup and he doesn't eat a LOT, but I thought, "Hmm.  I think I can cut costs AND give him some top quality grub all at once!"  So he'll be getting half homemade food and half dry food.  We're keeping the dry food simply because it contains some of the vitamins and minerals that dogs need and godhelpme I don't want to give him some kind of weird vitamin deficiency.

So here's where the story of The Liver comes in.  (I give you mad props if you've stayed with me this long.)

The very first batch of food was simmered for several hours in my hand-dandy crock pot.  It consisted of liver, chicken, carrots, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, apples, rice, and onions (for flavor).  (Ya'll never be able to continue reading if you don't stop laughing.)

I have 2 points to make here.  Liver might be the nastiest thing I've ever brought into this house.  (I know I'm stepping on some toes here cuz I have several family members who think liver-and-onions is a delicacy  straight from heaven.  I happen to think it's a nightmare straight from somewhere else.  I digress.)  First, I put on rubber gloves because I was completely unhinged by the amount of BLOOD that was in the packaging.  I opened the plastic, slid the whole mess into the crock pot, and leaned over (I swear to you that I don't know what came over me) to take a whiff.




Liver will never again enter my home.


My second point?  ONIONS ARE TOXIC FOR DOGS.  Yep.  It contains something that causes their red blood cells to BURST which leads to anemia which can lead to DEATH.  I could just as easily have laced the whole mess with rat poison.  In my 3 weeks of research, WHY DIDN'T I SEE THAT BEFORE NOW?  So I lived with 10 hours of a rancid-smelling house for nothing. 

The bad news?  The entire batch of food went into the garbage.  The good news?  I was only out $15 (roughly).  The other bad news?  I'll be the butt of endless jokes that probably all start with, "HEY!  Remember the time Chris almost poisoned Charlie?  BAHAHAHA!"

So yesterday I made my second batch of food.  I stuck with the basics this time.  Chicken (which, thankfully, doesn't smell like 4-day-old baked on a highway in Death Valley roadkill), carrots, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, apples, and rice.

When The Husband came home from work, I said, "I finished the second batch of dog food."


"I left out the poisonous onions this time."


"I also left out the liver."



  1. You're right, I was laughing, but I did make it through the whole post. Through my tears of laughter, but I made it. I looked up how to make cat food, but they all included liver, and I am so totally with you on the liver thing. It doesn't enter my house. Plus, the liver is responsible for filtering all the bad things out of bodies, so just how good can it be for us or our pets. Just think of all the toxins that liver filtered out that you could have fed your puppy... You just saved his life twice now. By not giving him onions or that toxic liver.

  2. I just finished putting some chow in the crock pot for supper. It has an amazing resemblance to your home made dog food. Thank god Lea works at a pizza joint. Always good to have a backup plan when I'm cooking. Oh, just had a large meal of liver and onions at mom's on Sat.

  3. HI! I just stumbled upon your blog and love it! I can so totally relate to this post. My husband and I just adopted a puppy and I have been doing SO much research on what to feed her. The internet scared me silly about commercial dog food so we make a lot of her food. Not quite as creative as you though! She eats rice, a veggie, and chicken or tuna or red meat plus some good quality kibble. it's so hard/scary to be a good dog owner, don't you think?? I worry all the time that I am doing something wrong. I love knowing that other people feel the same way!

  4. I didn't realize onions were toxic to dogs - Tonka generally gets a little bit of whatever we're eating, and it seems that just about everything we cook has onions in it. I guess we'll have to be more selective.

    Oh, well - she and a couple of her friends got into a giant package of chocolate while we were out one time, and she didn't die from that. I think she has an iron stomach.

  5. When I read "and some onions (for flavor)" I said "NOOoooo!!!" out loud. I'm glad I continued reading before commenting. :) I'm also glad you found out about the whole "hemolytic anemia" deal before your poor pup actually had it. Being a pet parent is a lot like being a regular parent. Try as you might, you're still gonna fuck up. At least your dog won't blame you for everything that's ever gone wrong in his life in weekly therapy sessions.


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