Last year at Christmastime, I whipped up a few batches of dog bones to give to the dogs Jake played with at the soccer field nearby. I bought little doggie bags with pictures of brown pups with black ears, threw in a bunch-o-bones and tied a nice festive bow around the bags.
Jake had been underfoot hoping for a few scraps since I began baking so I gave him a little treat. Jake weighs in at ninety pounds. He's a big boy with a very hearty appetite. He stood still at the kitchen sink with his treat in his mouth, savoring the flavor, dropped it on the floor and gave it a really good sniff. Finally, he picked it up, walked over to his bed, laid down, and lopped his hefty paw on top of it. And there the bone stayed. I grew tired of waiting to see how long it took him to actually eat it. I left the room.
The next day, I brought the bags to the soccer field along with some extra treats and began to distribute them. I was a bit concerned and with good reason. Jake's playmates reacted the same way he did. Every dog put the treat in his mouth, stood still, dropped it, gave it a sniff, picked it up and found a little spot to lay down and looked at the treat. Eventually they were all eaten.
Aren't dogs supposed to eat everything? Even things that make them sick?
The dog moms and dads tried not to laugh, but it was funny and eventually we all had a good laugh. I was a little embarrassed, but really, did it matter? It must have...just a tad...
because not to be outsmarted by man's best friend, this year I found a recipe in the newspaper for doggie Polenta-Parmesan-Parsley treats. These were going to be soft. I wasn't about to try anything with the hard factor of a golf ball.
After breakfast on Christmas morning I began spinning the golden magic. I added polenta to boiling water, like magic it began to thicken. I stirred and stirred. I added the Parmesan and parsley. It smelled pretty good. I spread olive oil in a glass pan and then spooned the mixture into it and put it in the refrig. An hour later, I took it out. Soupy. I put it back in. However, time was of the essence. We were on our way to my daughter's house for Christmas brunch and I wanted to take their dog, Maggie, a few treats.
I pulled the polenta out of the fridge at the last minute, grabbed the cookie cutter and cut Christmas trees. By the time we got to our destination--about 40 minutes away--the trees had turned to bushes, rapidly deteriorating to flat corn tortillas.
I gave Mags a hug and brought her into the kitchen. I tried to pick up a treat off the dish, but it slipped through my fingers, sort of the way an egg might. Maggie wasn't the least bit deterred. She licked my hand, the plate of bushes and seemed to be quite happy. I felt this was a semi-successful outcome.
As soon as we got home I raced into the kitchen like a woman possessed to check the polenta. (you'd think I would have had more to worry about since we were having company for dinner, but no, the Polenta-Parm-Parsley was foremost on my mind). It look great! But where were the the morning tree cut outs? The polenta had slid to one end of the pan. Undaunted, I once again pressed the tree cookie cutter into the polenta. I tried to pick it up without the benefit of a spatula. So soupy. It stuck to my fingers like loose cold oatmeal, but still not solid. As an eternal optimist, I gave it another hour. Finally, I had to admit that we all have talents, but dog treats isn't one of mine. I threw half of it out and gave the rest of the mush sans trees to Jake, who seemed relatively happy to lick it up.
Next year I'm buying squeaky toys at the pet store.