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Beer With Their Breakfast

It’s 5 o’clock somewhere, right?

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Yes, Luke. Yes, it is.

But it doesn’t matter, your beer is alcohol-free, and it doesn’t even require that nifty bottle opener you wear on your collar.

So, go ahead, guzzle some Bowser Beer. Lap it up at the beginning of a hard day. Use it like gravy, even, on your kibble.

The other guys are doing it, too.

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I’ve known about the dog-friendly Bowser Beer for a while, but I had not run into any locally until last weekend’s Dogs on the Lawn event at the Nelson-Atkins Museum.

For just a few dollars, I grabbed a bottle of the Beefy Brown Ale for my boys to try.

According to the label, the suggested serving size is one bottle for medium to large dogs and half a bottle for small dogs. However, even the proprietors of the food truck for dogs where I bought it said they don’t give their two labs that much beer.

They suggested a splash here and there, maybe drizzled over some kibble. Just refrigerate after opening, they advised.

I broke out the bottle the very next day. Before pouring some in a dish for the dogs, I tasted it myself.

I found it watery and slightly sweet, not so beefy.

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Scooby tried it next. Although puzzled at first, he soon lapped it up eagerly.

Luke then had pretty much the same reaction.

Finally, Charlie “Chetty” Machete got his portion. He was least impressed of all, licking at the bowl and then looking up at me, as if to say, “Where’s the beef?”

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The next morning, I poured a little Bowser Beer over everyone’s dry food. That did seem to make mealtime significantly more exciting.

Although I don’t see us buying Bowser Beer by the case, I think it’s a brilliant item for a dog-oriented food truck to stock. I’m sure Good Dog 2 Go will do great business  at pet-friendly races and other summer events.

Besides the novelty, one reason someone may want to give their dogs Bowser Beer is for the glucosamine.

Bowser Beer

Glucosamine HCL is the fourth ingredient on the label, after water, beef and malt extract. The only other three ingredients are common preservatives: citric acid, sodium benzoate and potassium sorbate.

I could also see how incorporating Bowser Beer into a dog’s diet – regularly or as an infrequent treat – could help boost a dog’s water intake or help make liquid medicine go down a little easier.

Bowser Beer is made in the U.S.A. with all domestically-sourced products. You can learn more at BowserBeer.com.

Would you let your dogs try Bowser Beer?

I have no affiliation with Bowser Beer. I simply bought some and wanted to share my experience!

What To Do with Dandelions

Do you hate dandelions?

I don’t. In fact, I love them.

Taraxacum officinale dandelion

Taraxacum officinale. Source: Flora von Deutschland, Österreich und der Schweiz 1885 (U.S. Public Domain)

As I inspected the garden last weekend, I was thrilled to see quite a few dandelions sprouting.

Although we don’t use weedkillers, we don’t get a lot of dandelions.

That’s probably because I like to pull them. And when I do, I try to yank out the whole plant, root and all, well before their heads turn into those fluffy seed puffs. That helps keep the overall population down.

In addition to removing them where you don’t want them, pulling dandelions provides a seasonal treat that’s packed with minerals and nutrients.

If you have been reading this blog long, you know I’m a fan of wild edible plants.

I’m especially fond of dandelions, which are plentiful and trending for foodies. Over the past year, I have seen bags of dandelion greens on the shelves at Whole Foods and dandelion salads on the menus at restaurants. (I tend to gulp at the price.)

According to Whole Dog Journal, dandelions can also be beneficial for dogs.

Last weekend’s dandelion haul wasn’t massive – just about 15 young plants, none of which had flowered.

But that was enough. Cleaning dandelions takes a while, especially if you don’t plan to throw anything away.

The entire dandelion plant is edible, although the greens can be a little bitter.

I cleaned mine by soaking them three times in water and then scrubbing all of the dirt from them.

Then, I snipped their roots for roasting and gathered the greens in a bowl.

I haven’t turned my roasted roots into a liver-cleansing tea just yet, but I have gotten use from the greens.

dandelion greens

Last night, I snuck some greens between layers of cheese in a batch of nachos. I called ‘em Dandy Nachos.

And on Easter, I used the greens to garnish a batch of deviled eggs.

As promised, see below for the deviled eggs recipe. It’s one of my famous, inexact recipes, so you won’t need any measuring cups.

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Deviled Nest Eggs

What you’ll need:

As many boiled eggs as you want (Remember, each whole egg makes two deviled eggs)

  • Wasabi mayonaise (Available at Trader Joe’s)
  • Your favorite yellow mustard
  • A handful of fresh dandelion greens
  • Capers
  • Paprika
  • Bowl and spoons for mixing

Directions:

Carefully peel your boiled eggs – I find it’s best to do this while they are still warm. Slice each egg in half and separate the yolk from the white. Gather all of the yolks in a bowl. Once you have separated all of the eggs, you can mix up your filling. Simply add the yellow mustard and wasabi mayo and begin stirring. Start with a small amount of the condiments at first – no more than a teaspoon – and taste as you go along. You will know when the taste is right for you. Garnish each egg with two or three shreds of dandelion green and one or more capers. Each egg should resemble a little bird nest with very tiny eggs. Sprinkle paprika lightly over the whole batch.

Have you ever eaten dandelions? What did you think?

Dog Food Scandal: What If They Were What They Ate?

When the recent horse meat scandal erupted, I knew it was not the last we would hear about deceptive meat substitution on a large scale.

Then, a relative forwarded to me this story from an agricultural industry trade journal:

Pretty disgusting, huh?

According to the full version of the story by the Daily Mail, it is suspected that stray dogs were picked up off the streets in Spain and stolen from animal sanctuaries. Then, their bodies were processed into animal feed.

Everything about this story is disturbing.

And that should be true for you whether or not you are a dog person.

It’s amazing how little we really know about any of the food we buy.

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Whether we are getting kibble for our pets or enjoying a fancy meal out, we make our decisions based on what the label or menu says.

We trust stores, manufacturers and restaurants to tell us the truth. We have to.

For while we might know what a hamburger tastes like, our senses cannot tell us if the meat is composed of something more than beef.

Who’s to say about that filet of fish, either?

According to The Atlantic, 59% of the “tuna” eaten by Americans is not tuna at all.

As with the horse meat and tainted pet food, the fish findings are based on genetic testing. Without whistle blowers and a scientific investigation, no one would know the truth.

Considering the precarious economic state of the world right now, I fear there may be more disgusting new like this to come.

So, what do we do – as humans and pet caretakers?

  • Whenever possible, consume food that is grown and distributed locally.
  • If that isn’t practical, pay attention to the labels. Buy the highest-quality pet food you can for your pets, preferably with ingredients sourced in the United States or Canada.

What advice would you add to this list? Do you worry about where your food – and your pet’s food comes from? What are you currently feeding your pets?

The Wayward Dogs currently eat Petcurean grain-free kibble that we get from the Boutique at Kennel Creek Pet Resort.

Confession: I Ate a Dog Treat

I have eaten from the bag on the right.

natural pet treats made in Kansas

KCcanine Natural Pet Treats

It was just a nibble from a KCcanine Natural Pet Treats Prairie Beef Jerky Nugget.

No biggie.

I knew the dogs wouldn’t realize I had dipped into their stash.

And I had to know – what exactly makes jerky for dogs different from jerky for people?

miniature pinscher

The answer is: Not much.

Jerky is jerky – meat that is cut into strips and cured through drying.

And that’s exactly what the beef nugget meant for a dog tasted like to me. It was just a little more bland than I would prefer – no spicy pepper.

Some kinds of jerky are more processed than the nuggets. It may consist of various bits of meat formed into “strips” and held together with binder substances, such as wheat. That was the case with the Ideal Balance ”jerky strips” I reviewed (but did not taste) a while back.

KCcanine Natural Pet Treats offers both traditional and pressed jerky. However, corn, soy, wheat or creepy, artificial preservatives are not part of the recipe for these Kansas-made products.

See for yourself:

KCcanine Natural Pet Treats ingredients

KCcanine posts ingredient lists for its pet products on the company website.

Bonus:

If you’re like me and live in the Kansas City area, KCcanine represents an opportunity to buy local for your dogs and support a small family business.

All ingredients come from the U.S.A., if not the Flint Hills of Kansas directly, which means with this jerky you don’t have to worry about the risks currently plaguing brands made in China.

I am so in.

And that makes these guys super happy.

golden retriever and black lab mix begging

More jerky please!

KCcanine Natural Pet Treats are available at a variety of pet supply and grocery stores around the Kansas City metro area. 

I get mine from the Boutique at Kennel Creek.

If you do not live in this area, you can order direct from kccanine.com.

Have you ever eaten a dog treat?

Disclaimer: I am not associated with KCcanine Natural Pet Treats, but I did receive a sample bag to review from Kennel Creek Pet Resort.

Easy Baked Peanut Butter Cookies for Dogs

Confession: I’ve had these cookie cutters for years and never used them.

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That all changed yesterday, when I decided to make DIY Christmas cookies for our dogs and their doggy friends.

I started with a recipe on Pinterest that required just four ingredients.

I only had three of those ingredients on hand, but I played recipe jazz and found success anyway.

Hint: You can almost always substitute yogurt for milk!

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Is it wrong to give a dog cat-shaped cookies?

You can check out Brown Eyed Baker’s original recipe for Peanut Butter Doggie Bones.

Here’s my adapted recipe:

Baked Peanut Butter Cookies for Dogs

Ingredients:

  1. 2 cups flour (whole wheat preferred – I used a mixture)
  2. 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  3. 1 cup peanut butter (natural preferred – I only had Jif)
  4. 1 cup plain yogurt
  5. water as needed

Directions:

Mix wet ingredients (except water) and dry ingredients separately and then combine in one big bowl. Stir thoroughly. Add a little water if batter seems to dry or lumpy. Once the mixture is smooth, roll out onto a lightly floured surface and cut out shapes with your favorite cookie cutters. Place on a greased cookie sheet and bake at 375 degrees (F) for 18 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on a cookie rack, and then store in an airtight container. Yield depends on the size of your cookie cutters.

peanut butter dog cookies

Om nom nom

The next time I make these cookies, I will probably add cinnamon and maybe mini carob chips.

I gathered up several baggies of 10 or so cookies each for some of Scooby, Luke and Charlie Machete’s favorite friends.

At Zach’s family Christmas celebration last night, Echo the elderbelle and hot Roxy (aka Charlie Machete’s girlfriend) approved.

pit bull and jackeranian

Do you make holiday cookies – for people or pets? Share you story in the comments.

Don’t feel like baking? Try my no-bake peanut butter dog treat recipe!

A Holiday Drink with Homegrown Lemons and Homemade Ginger Syrup

It’s lemon season.

Meyere lemon wedges

Citrus heaven.

Well, technically, the season for Meyer lemons grown in temperate areas, such as a big pot in my Missouri dining room, can be year-round. But we just finally picked the first golden bursts of sunshine from our little tree.

In a little over a year, we have seen our little Meyer lemon tree burst into bloom a couple of times. After creating an intoxicating fragrance, most of the flowers fell off. But last spring, several of blooms gave way to little green fruits.

Two of them lasted through the hot, hot summer, my inconsistent care and a move back inside for winter. I eyed the lemon babies daily for signs of yellowing. Finally, they were ready.

Since we only had two, I wanted to be sure we used them for some special and memorable recipe.

homegrown meyer lemons

There they are! Two homegrown lemons!

By chance, around the same time, my DIY gourmet friend Lisa gave me a bottle of her homemade ginger syrup.

So, Zach cut up the lemons – which were amazingly sweet, tart and juicy – and mixed up some delicious drinks (with a little help from the Sodastream that I previously bought on Lisa’s recommendation).

Check out the recipe for the drinks and the syrup itself!

Lemon Vodka Gingerade (Crystal’s approximation of Zach’s recipe)

Ingredients:

  • Vodka
  • Lemon wedges
  • Ginger Syrup
  • Unflavored sparkling water
  • Ice

Directions:

Fill a pint glass with ice. Add vodka. We usually pour to about 1/4 of the glass. This would be about 1 to 1-1/2 shots if you’re measuring.  Next, add sparkling water, leaving about a finger’s width of room at the top of the glass. Grab a couple lemon wedges and squeeze them into the drink. Then, add ginger syrup to taste.

Now, stir, and enjoy!

Lemon Vodka Gingerade and Ginger Syrup

That bottle of syrup didn’t last long at our house!

A Loose Recipe for Ginger Syrup (Lisa’s Recipe)

Ingredients:

  • 3 big pieces of ginger, about the size of your hand
  • (Filtered) water
  • 2.5 – 3.5 cups suger, I used about 2 parts white, 1 part lt. brown, 1 part raw
  • A few pieces of lemon peel from an organic, unwaxed lemon, no pith

Directions:

No need to peel the ginger, just wash it well.  Pulse in a blender until it is well minced. Cover with water in a heavy bottom pot. I just eyeball the amount of water, about 3 times more than the ginger.  But err on the side of less since you can always add more water later if it is too strong. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 45 mins. Strain and try to press out as much of the liquid from the ginger as possible.  Discard ginger.  Return to the pot and add the suger. Simmer on low for another 30 mins.  Turn off the heat and add the lemon peel.  Let the syrup cool then strain it one more time.  Done. It’s ready to get made into some amazing drink.

Note: I just filter it though a medium/fine mesh sieve a couple of times, but if you want it less cloudy and pulpy, you can pass it though cheese cloth a few times before you add the suger.

On this batch, I boiled the ginger down a second time with a couple fresh cups of water.  I thought I could get more ginger flavor, but I think it just got a bit bitter.  I probably wont do that again.

Have you ever made your own syrup for flavoring fancy drinks? What’s your favorite sparkling drink for holiday time?

Tales of Turkey Thieves

Luke has a confession.
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You’d never guess it from his super sweet golden retriever face, but the old, red dog has a problem. He’s a cleptomaniac.

Leave a loaf of bread, a glass bowl full of buffalo meat or even a bag of avocados too close to the edge of our really tall counters, and he’ll swipe it.

His scavenging isn’t limited to food. He regularly raids the bathroom for loose rolls of toilet paper (or their empty tubes) that he can shred and strew all over the house.

This week, he got into the Thanksgiving trash bag. Zach said he noticed something was up when he saw Scooby the elderpin chasing the golden retriever around the yard. Luke had a mouthful of turkey carcass.

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Apparently, Luke and former foster dog Minnie are still birds of a feather. Her mom tells me Minnie waited two days before ripping into the bag with the bird stuff in it.

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Lesson for both households: Keep food trash completely inaccessible to dogs. Always.

Anyone with thieving dogs should always bear in mind that too much turkey or ingestion of turkey bones can be dangerous for dogs.

Tip: If you are concerned that your dog may have eaten turkey bones, you may need to call your vet. You may also immediately feed him pumpkin, bread or anything similar that can help cushion the sharp stuff so that it may pass more safely through his system. Then, just monitor the doo-doo for a few days. If anything looks suspicious, get to the vet right  away.

We used the pumpkin-and-bread trick when we were worried Luke might have consumed glass shards along with the bison meat he knocked off the counter.

I know Luke and Minnie aren’t the only dogs out there who snuck themselves some Thanksgiving bird this year. There’s a turkey-gobbling German Shepherd at Dogshaming.com.

Do you have a story about a dog stealing the main course or holiday leftovers?

Disclaimer: I’m not a vet. I’m just a dog owner sharing experiences that have worked for me and my dogs.

A Traditional Thanksgiving Turkey

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If you follow me on Instagram or Twitter, you already know I roasted a turkey this Thanksgiving.

The only reason this bears mentioning is that I haven’t eaten bird in, like, over two years.

Last Thanksgiving was all about the Tofurky.

Tofurky

This is what a Tofurky breast looks like.

But ever since my dad started hooking us up with Nebraska-raised venison and  Zach discovered the joys of preserving meat, dietary restrictions have been relaxing around the Wayward House.

As far as the dogs are concerned, this is awesome news.

Although our whole pack is fond of homegrown carrots, sweet potatoes and other vegetables – cooked, raw or served as pulp snuck into frozen balls of canned food - all the dogs naturally love meat a lot more.

Their extreme glee surprised us the first time we ever prepared elk burgers in the house.

Lucky for the three handsome beggars, although meat gets prepared a lot around here now, Zach is very particular about his food, and I’m still not super meat-motivated.

This means the dogs get more choice handouts than they might in a more traditional omnivore house.

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In fact, they’re probably going to get a lot of my roasted turkey leftovers.

From what I hear, my turkey turned out fine, although it was significantly less popular at the party than the smoked bird Zach prepared.

I still haven’t tasted my turkey. It was fun to baste, but I just can’t get jazzed about eating a bird yet.

I might try to trick myself into eating it in a soup. But I’ll probably serve up more to some canines over the next few days.

Share your turkey leftover prep suggestions – for human or pet consumption – in the comments.

The original recipe I used was an adaptation (fresh thyme added to the butter and a peeled orange stuffed in the cavity) of the basic how-to from Simple Bites.

Delicious Kong-fections for everyone

A Kong for every dog!

three sizes of Kong Classics

The Classic Kong toy.

If you are a fan of Wayward Dogs on Facebook, you have already seen this picture. Following a visit to Target the other night, we became a three-Kong household.

I trust that most readers already know what Kongs are, yet I was surprised to be asked for an explanation by a woman in the checkout line. She seemed impressed and excited when I told her that Kong toys, made in Golden, Colorado, are an excellent way to occupy a dog while you’re away. You just stuff ‘em with the snacks of your choice – peanut butter, pureed sweet potatoes or official Kong filling – and freeze until it’s treat time.

Foster dog Charlie Machete gets a mid-size Kong Classic full of frozen goodness almost every day. The chew toy that makes him work for treats helps him stay stimulated and not destructive when he spends time in his dog-cave the laundry room.

As an extremely food-motivated dog, Charlie Machete has always enjoyed dinner and treat-time puzzles, including the Kong Wobbler. However, recently I noticed that there was often lots of peanut butter left in the bottom when I picked up his Kong hours after he started gnawing on it.

That’s when I decided to get creative with my homemade stuffing. Gone are the days of just cramming a Kong full of peanut butter. What we make at the Wayward House is closer to a Kong parfait. Zach calls them Kong-fections.

How to Make a Kong-fection

Ingredients: Plain yogurt, peanut butter, bite-sized treats of your choice, honey and cinnamon (optional).

Step 1: Stuff a bite-sized treat (or portion of it) into the small hole. This will help keep the Kong from leaking.

Step 2: Spoon yogurt into the Kong. Two teaspoonfuls is about right for a bigger dog.

Step 3: Drop in a few more bite size treats. We’ve been using chewy training treats from Pet Botanicals. Carrot chunks or dried blueberries would be a good choice, too.

Step 4: Spoon in peanut butter. How much you add depends on how full you want the Kong to be. Again, two teaspoonfuls is about right for a big dog.

Step 5: Drizzle a small amount of honey into the Kong.

Step 6: Add a dash of cinnamon.

Step 7: Freeze until it’s Kong time!

This particular Kong-fection recipe gets Charlie Machete so excited that I was feeling guilty my dogs Luke and Scooby never got to try the goodness. That’s why the other day I bought them Kongs of their own. They are glad about that.

A pit bull mix, golden retriever and a miniature pinscher lust after a Kong toy stuffed with sweet potatoes, peanut butter, oatmeal and cinnamon.

What’s in the Kong, mom?

What do you put in Kongs for your dogs?

Would you like to whip up Kong-fections for Charlie Machete? He’s still available for adoption! Apply to make him yours through Midwest Adopt-a-Bull.

Need a Kong? You can help support this blog when you buy one from the Wayward Dogs Store!

The garden isn’t dead yet

Tiny cuts cover my hands from Sunday afternoon’s weeding extravaganza. Crabgrass and tall, unknown wild plants have been choking out the neglected garden all summer.

As Zach and I removed the invaders, we were surprised to find a rogue tomato plant thriving in a spot far away from our designated tomato area.

hidden green tomatoes

Who’s hiding back there? It’s me, Roma!

As long as the weather holds, these babies should ripen soon. I know we will enjoy them as much as the small basket of tomatoes we harvested a few weeks ago.

Weeding day also yielded a big, fat eggplant and a handful of peppers. We expect a lot more peppers in the coming weeks. After looking sad all summer, the eight or so plants that have hung on are getting heavy with blossoms and pepper nubs.

eggplant and peppers

Black Beauty and her pepper army.

How is your garden growing this time of year?

Want fresh produce from local farmers? If you are in Kansas City, stop by the Waldo Farmers’ Market today between 3 and 7 p.m. This is the last market of the year!
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