As anyone who's been paying attention knows, one of my strangest quirks is that I feed my dogs real food: cooked meat, starches, vegetables and fruits, unadulterated by anything that came from a lab bench. This has worked exceptionally well in the past and it continues to do so:

• Ruby and Cassie maintain their normal weight. Neither dog is overweight or underweight.
• Their coats look healthy and gorgeous.
• They're active and full of ginger, chasing each other around like rockets.
• Cassie, who at 8 1/2 is pushing doggy old age, acts like a much younger dog and keeps up with me and the pup on daily mile-plus walks
• The vet declares both dogs to be in sterling health every time he sees them...
• ...which isn't very often, because since Ruby got over the UTI (possibly associated with the commercial food she was fed at the breeder's and, because I wasn't sure what kind of real food or how much to feed a growing pup, by me), she  has had exactly zero veterinary problems.

All very nice, but it leaves the dog treat issue. The treats I used to give them were -- yes! the duck jerky things Costco was selling, the stuff that had to be taken off the market after killing hundreds and sickening thousands of dogs. I finally gave up even trying to find doggy treats for them, since as it develops there's no law requiring manufacturers to tell truthfully where the stuff is made, and so you really can't be sure whether whatever you buy was made in China. When I wanted to give them a treat, I'd give them small bites of real food -- a piece of carrot, a slice of apple, a cabbage heart, bites of steak, chicken, or fish I'd cooked for myself.

While that seems to be relatively safe, it's inconvenient.

So recently I picked up a small bag of Wellness kibble, since it comes highly recommended by MyCorgi.com members. Looks pretty good, and the dogs think it's the business! A few pieces of Wellness kibble make a grand treat for them.

Okay. Last Tuesday, in came enough money that I could afford to do the next month's grocery shopping. And it was off to Costco, the minute they opened, to pick up thirty days' worth of chicken and pork and a big bag of frozen "Tuscan-style" vegetables (i.e., unadulterated broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots). Two packages of boned chicken thighs and two packages of the boneless low-rent pork Costco sells as "country ribs" suffice to feed both dogs for exactly one month. To the day.

Tuesday was a very busy day, and I didn't have the several hours required to simmer meat, grind veggies, mix the stuff up, package it, and store it. Wednesday a doctor's appointment consumed half the day,. and then I needed to play catch-up with all the paying work I didn't do on Tuesday or Wednesday morning.

This left us out of home-made dog food for two days.

Fortunately, we had a whole giant cookie-jar full of Wellness kibble sitting on the kitchen counter. So that's what they've been eating for the nonce.

Of course, they're beside themselves with doggy joy. They think the human is giving them entire dishes filled with treats!

And it is seductive. Very seductive -- because it is so easy to just measure out the recommended amount, set it in front of the dog, and call it a day.

If I hadn't already bought four packages of meat I wouldn't even think of eating myself (I don't eat chicken that exudes its weight in water when you set it over the heat with nothing else in the pan, and I'm old enough to remember how pork is supposed to taste), I would have been sorely tempted to just keep the dogs on Wellness and be done with it. Wellness's list of ingredients contains no beef (vet thought Ruby may be allergic to beef) and no grain (or maybe she might be allergic to some grain product?), and so it surely looks benign enough.

But...

After two days, I was reminded of a strange property of dog kibble. When a dish of kibble goes in one end of the dog, what comes out the other end is the size of an elephant's mound.

Yes. I know: bizarre.

But it's true.

When you feed your dog real food, her doggy mounds are compact and small, as though she had digested most of what she ate. And though I won't say they're odorless, they don't stink enough for you to smell it from five feet away. When you feed kibble, what the dog emits -- copiously! -- is massive and smelly.

Why?

What is in kibble that produces that much waste? Even a high-end product like Wellness, which lists no grain and no vegetable matter that I don't already feed the dogs -- apples, blueberries, kale, sweet potatoes, broccoli, carrots -- causes the dog to exude bear scat. If one were human, one would expect to get that effect by eating a lot of high-fiber grain products. Supposedly Wellness is grain-free -- but I do not refrain from feeding my dogs oatmeal, quinoa, and rice, none of which have any noticeable effect on the product of the nether regions.

Returning to the label on this package of Wellness Core Grain-free Original Formula Protein-focused Nutrition, you find twenty ingredients that are recognizable foods. The other thirty-seven ingredients are products of the lab bench. That's almost twice as many artificial, manufactured ingredients as food items.

So...what is in this stuff that would cause a small amount -- significantly less by weight than I feed even Cassie, who gets half as much real food per meal as the pup is still eating, and about the same in volume -- to create giant dog mounds?

Of course, we know dogs run over and gorge on water after eating kibble, causing the food-like substance to swell up in the gut and presumably leading to larger and more interesting end products (as it were...). But...for that much more to go out, a LOT more usable edibles would have to go in -- and that does not seem to be the case. It appears that what goes in contains a great deal of material that is not usable: that is, not digestible.

WhatEVER. This phenomenon causes a surge of skepticism in the mind of a human that believes neither man nor beast needs any "supplements" if the critter consumes a full balanced (for its species) diet of meats, vegetables, and starches.

I'm thrilled to find the Wellness works magnificently as a doggy treat, since it does appear to be a lot safer and healthier than the various pseudo-edibles manufactured specifically as dog treats.

The chicken, the yams, and the veggies are now cooked. Time to mix them up and store them as this week's doggy comestibles.

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