6/13/2009

Opportunists, not Omnivores


It's garden season again and while we don't have much we can eat yet, there are tidbits here and there that keep us on our toes, just enough to hold us over until the bountiful harvest rolls in. Amos, of course, is loving the fact and now that our plants are big enough to withstand it if he accidentally steps on them, he is able to come down with me for the grueling tasks of weeding, tilling, and general plant upkeep, as well as checking on our budding vegetables and fruits. Yesterday, to my dismay, a zucchini I'd been anticipating picking was ruined by the torrential rains the day before and was complete mush from laying on the soppy ground and then baking in the hot sun. Another smaller one had been halfway ruined too so I picked it off and tossed it out of the fence. Now you may be thinking by now, "What does ANY of this have to do with raw feeding?!" Relax, I'm setting the scene first. ;) So I continue my work, meanwhile, Amos is staring at the half rotten squash across the fence. I gave in and went and got it for him, breaking off the slimy half and giving him the good half to munch on. After his zucchini he foraged around and picked a raspberry and we went back inside. So, doesn't this seem a bit hypocritical that I am so passionate about feeding a raw prey model diet and yet I'm giving my dog vegetables and fruit? To some it may but let me delve deeper into the topic.

Wolves, and our domestic wolves, by design, are carnivores. There is scientific evidence concluding this to be true, so let's set that aside. Both are also opportunistic which essentially means if it's available and edible, and the wolf or dog is hungry, he's going to eat it. It's a spectacular survival plan. Now, that plant matter is coming out pretty much the same way it went in and there may be a ***slight*** bit of nutrition from it but by no means is it something I would consider beneficial.

The dictionary defines opportunist as "the policy or practice, as in politics, business, or one's personal affairs, of adapting actions, decisions, etc., to expediency or effectiveness regardless of the sacrifice of ethical principles." To apply that to our topic, I'd rewrite that definition as "the practice of adapting actions, diet, etc., for survival, regardless of the sacrifice of what is normal or natural for that species."
Now, while I do not advocate plant matter forming a part of the normal diet for a carnivore, there are times when I am going to let my dog exercise his opportunism and if he'd like to eat some mulberries that have fallen on the ground while I am picking then that's his CHOICE. Empowerment is a part of having a healthful life. I find it very different than purposely handing him a carrot or a tomato. He'll eat it because he's hungry but it is not the same as if he decided to seek it out himself. When he chooses what he wants to eat, often times he'll forage a few berries and be done. Sometimes he gorges himself until his poop is purple. Either is fine with me. I find that letting him decide is much more rewarding than what he ends up eating. In fall and winter when the fruits and vegetables are for the most part dead, that ends his foraging. It's completely dependent on the environment and seasons, like if he were a wolf and had only himself to depend on for food. Most people say "Fido loves blueberries/lettuce/peas/whatever so he must need vegetables and fruits to be healthy." Well Fido also LOVES to eat cat poop out of the litterpans so should he be getting a generous serving of that too in his bowl? Of course not! Opportunism at work here, folks! If you want to give your dog a carrot stick once in awhile then go for it, but understand he's eating it because he's opportunistic, not because he's an omnivore. To read more, visit the Dogs Are Carnivores link on the right side of the page.

6/08/2009

Pastured chicken

I love the idea of raising my own chickens for dog food (because I certainly wouldn't be eating them!) but the most exciting part of it all would be raising them naturally. This is a topic I've dabbled in for quite awhile but unfortunately where I'm currently living chickens are not allowed. Doesn't mean I still can't dream and plan for the future, right? I've found this link that is somewhat of a diary on starting your own pastured chicken setup and also a link for chicken "tractors" which are the movable enclosures for housing birds in. When raising pastured rabbits, chicken tractors can also be used with some slight modifications.

Getting Started With Pastured Chickens
How to Build a Chicken Tractor Cheap
Raising Chickens for Meat

Just some links to spark the imagination.. I am sure it's way more in depth than this. Still, I would love nothing more than to have the satisfaction of raising my own animals and making sure the living conditions and slaughter are as humane and respectful as possible.

Here seems a good start about raising rabbits.
Life as a Polyface Apprentice

Enjoy!

6/07/2009

Fifty Two days with Brie

Those were the most wonderful days of my life. I spent an amazing fifty two days with a dog that never let her sickness get her down for long, and was strong enough to get back up and fight again. For 7 weeks Brie fought distemper but in the end it took her soul and a body without a soul isn't much more than an existence. After her last seizure I felt her change, right there in my arms and I knew I could not put her thru everything the doctors were saying had to be done, only to prolong her existence which would be very short due to the progression of the neurological issues. Who exactly would be benefiting from that? Not Brie. I chose to let her go, the hardest thing I've ever had to do. After the valium and before the injection I already felt her leave this world.

Brie has taught me so much in the short amount of time we had together. Things that we hear that are almost cliche but have taken on a new meaning.. things like keep your loved ones close and don't take for granted the time you have on this earth because you never know when it's up. Loyalty, strength and courage in the face of adversity are all things she demonstrated on a daily basis. The most important thing, I believe, that Brie has taught me is love for life and for the simple things like a warm, sunny day or a few minutes to cuddle with someone you love. Even though Brie is not here physically, her spirit is all around. I talk to her often, and she has recently sent a puppy into my life that is coming home towards the end of this month. She will be a little wolf too, just like her big sister, and I believe Brie will help teach and guide her as she does with me everyday.