It would seem that nothing is too good, or too much, for Fido. A recent list of pet paraphernalia issued by the Pet Information Bureau included booties with suspenders; rawhide fortune cookies and tacos; an adjustable car seat so Fido can be strapped in safely and still look out the window; even a waterbed specially designed to help tone muscles and stimulate circulation.
And that's only the beginning. There are also scarfs, T-shirts, raincoats, deodorants and breath fresheners, colognes, shampoos and even back packs.
By the time I had read through the list of pet gifts, I began to think that even dogs with all those trappings were still being deprived. There is more to life than material possessions. After all, quality of life depends on the caring touch; home cooking, for instance.
So, I tried making dog food at home. It was not the most practical thing I had ever done, since I don't own a dog. But the dog bones were fun to make, and distribute, and the reports that filtered back to me indicated that all the dogs tested liked them.
Do dogs really care about the taste of their food? According to Dr. Doug Draper of the Great Falls Veterinary Clinic in Reston, "some dogs will eat anything put before them," but added that some species, like poodles, are finicky eaters.
If most dogs don't much care about the flavor of their food, can dogs indeed taste the difference between foods? Roy Martin, director of science and technology for the Pet Food Institute, said several studies indicate that dogs can detect differences in flavors. But he said that it seems the texture and the foods the dog eats and the type of food the dog is fed early in life determine its preferential eating patterns.
There may have been a time when Fido fed on the crumbs that fell from its master's table, but today we are doing a lot more than simply tossing Fido scraps. Proof is the inclusion of a recipe for Dog Bone Biscuits in the new Fannie Farmer Baking Book and by sales last year of over 200,000 sets of dog bone biscuit cutters made by Fox Run Craftsmen, an international housewares manufacturer and distributor.
The first recipe below is based on that of John Clarke, president of Fox Run, who, according to Fox Run sales manager Steve Rusnock, "has been making dog bones for his dogs for years." The second recipe, which appeared in the Fannie Farmer Baking Book, kept two decades of her family dogs and most of her friends' dogs happily chomping, according to that book's author, Marion Cunningham. FOX RUN DOG BISCUITS (Makes about 20 biscuits) 2 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour 1/2 cup nonfat dry milk 1 teaspoon sugar 1 teaspoon salt 6 tablespoons margarine or oil 1 egg 2/3 cup cold water
Combine the dry ingredients and mix well. Add the remaining ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon to form a stiff dough, or combine all the ingredients in a food processor and process until dough forms.
Roll out to a thickness of about half an inch, cut into dog bone shapes with dog bone cutters or into sticks about three inches long and 3/4-inch wide.
Bake on an ungreased baking sheet for 25 minutes in a 350-degree oven. Cool on a rack, then store in an airtight container and use as needed. MARION CUNNINGHAM'S DOG BONE BISCUITS (Makes about 16 biscuits) 2 eggs 2 tablespoons soy flour 2 tablespoons wheat germ 1/2 teaspoon salt 4 tablespoons cold water 2 cups whole-wheat flour 2 tablespoons instant nonfat dry milk
In a large bowl, beat the eggs until combined, then add the soy flour, wheat germ, salt and water and mix well. Combine the wheat flour and milk, add to the mixture and either beat with a wooden spoon or work into a stiff dough with your hands, leaving any dry bits and crumbs in the bowl.
Pat the dough into a rectangle about 1/2-inch thick, then cut into bones with cookie cutters or into sticks about 3 inches long and 3/4-inch wide with a sharp knife.
Place on an ungreased baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes on one side, then flip the bones and bake for another 25 minutes on the other side.
Cool on racks then store in an airtight container until needed.