Reciprocate your best friend’s love with homemade treats
By Andrea Chaffin
I never wanted a dog.
They stink. They drool. They jump. They bark.
I grew up with cats, which require little care. Basically, as long as their bowls are full and their litter boxes are scooped, they don’t need anything.
But dogs? They’re big and need to be taken outside. Surely, they couldn’t love me like my cat could. I had no interest in such a beast.
Until I met my dog. She changed me.
Now, I’m the quintessential dog lady. When meeting people, I tend to greet their dogs first. Dog people know other dog people. It’s easy for us to spot each other because everyone else in the room is giving us the stink eye while we’re cooing and kissing our fur babies.
People tend to say I spoil Harley, my 7-year-old pit bull mix.
I won’t lie — she always gets the last few bites of whatever I’m eating, thanking me with a few warm licks. I rub her belly and scratch under her ears in response. And, of course, I tell her I love her. A lot.
She has her own camping chair.
My car, couch and wardrobe are constantly covered in a blanket of her white, wiry hair. I recall once when then-Wilmington Mayor Randy Riley picked out a few short strands of Harley’s fur out of my black blazer during a meeting.
“I just take a little bit of Harley wherever I go,” I explained at the time.
Others have refused to ride in my car or sit on my couch, knowing they risk a dog-hair covered behind. My answer to those problems is a collection of lint rollers: two in the house, one in the car and one at the office.
“Have you considered keeping her off the furniture?” some have gingerly asked.
No. How are we supposed to cuddle? And go on adventures together? And be best friends. Simply, it’s not an option.
That got me to thinking: Is there any person I prefer over my dog? I think not because dogs are better than people.
Here are 10 reasons why:
1. They’re mobile vacuums. Lose half the cheese dip off your tortilla chip? No problem. Fido will have that cleaned up in a jiffy.
2. They don’t get mad when you put your cold feet on them in bed. They’re great heaters and fantastic cuddlers.
3. They’re always happy to see you, no matter if it’s been three days, three hours or three minutes.
4. They eat the spiders. Thanks, I didn’t want to get near that thing!
5. They don’t expect you to be primped for the day. I’ve never been judged by my dog for wearing elastic pants two sizes too big, a T-shirt, dirty hair and last night’s makeup.
6. They’re loyal and protective. Once your dog has committed to you, a bond is made forever.
7. They don’t scroll through Facebook while you’re talking to them.
8. They’ll do you a favor and make that gross cookie from Aunt Beverly disappear. We all know you couldn’t choke it down. Gotta love that trick.
9. They’re not greedy or materialistic. The only thing my dog wants is me!
10. They always cheer you up when you’re in a bad mood and help you through tough times.
What better way to reciprocate love to your best companion than by fixing some homemade dog treats? They are cheaper and easier to make than you might think. Using a few simple, healthy ingredients, these homemade dog treats will become your pet’s favorite.
HOMEMADE PEANUT BUTTER DOG TREATS
The easiest homemade dog treats ever. Simply mix, roll and cut. Easy peasy, and so much healthier than store-bought. Use a bone-shaped cookie cutter. Pumpkin, a great source of fiber, keeps dogs “regular” and peanut butter just tastes darn good.
2/3 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup peanut butter
2 large eggs
3 cups flour
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat; set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat pumpkin puree, peanut butter and eggs on medium-high until well combined, about 1-2 minutes. Gradually add 2 1/2 cups flour at low speed, beating just until incorporated. Add an additional 1/4 cup flour at a time, just until the dough is no longer sticky.
Working on a lightly floured surface, knead the dough 3-4 times until it comes together. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough to 1/4-inch thickness. Using cookie cutters, cut out desired shapes and place onto the prepared baking sheet.
Place into oven and bake until the edges are golden brown, about 20-25 minutes, depending on the size and thickness of the treats.
Let cool completely.
HOMEMADE BEEF AND OAT DOG TREATS
Although these savory cookies smell a little odd to a human nose, dogs will gobble them up. Oats are another great source of fiber for dogs. You’re guaranteed to have these ingredients sitting in the pantry.
2 1/2 cups rolled oats
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted, low-fat beef broth or chicken broth
Preheat oven to 325 F.
Add oats, salt, beef broth and egg to a large mixing bowl. Combine well.
Pour onto wax or parchment paper and knead dough for about 3 minutes. Let stand for about 3 minutes to begin to become firmer. Between two sheets of parchment paper, press to 1/2-inch thickness.
Cut with cutter and place onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.
Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely.
Store in an airtight container for use or store in a ziptop bag in the freezer for later thawing and use.
Andrea Chaffin is the food editor of Salt magazine and the editor of The Madison Press. She can be reached at 740-852-1616, ext. 1619 or via Twitter @AndeeWrites.