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Sunday, December 19, 2010

Lessons from my Golden Retriever

It’s a bright, cold winter day; below zero this morning. I have filled the bird feeders and put out suet again but the only taker so far appears to be a small rabbit, snacking on some spilled feed on top of the snow. Christmas is just a week away, the daylight hours are at their shortest and everything seems still around me. As he has every week or so, our neighbor, Leroy, brings fresh caught sunfish that he has pulled from their watery home under the ice and cleaned for me. A delight. 

A barred owl flies from the yard into the adjacent woods as I come around the corner from the feeders. This, surely, is the baby we saw in the spring, now nearly full grown. On the other side of the yard, skeletons of summer greenery cling to the garden fence where cucumbers wove their way through the wire months ago. I should have torn down the vines but now they bring back the memory of summer and the smell of pickles and warm me up a little.

Maggie hops and prances alongside me as I walk to the mailbox, begging me to play in the snow. “Can we go for a walk? C’mon!” Then, she stops and abruptly buries her nose in the snow, suddenly aware of some small creature crawling beneath the cold white crust.

Golden Retrievers are tireless at play and as her chosen and nearly constant companion, she begs me daily. When rebuffed, “I have to WORK, Maggie” she sighs loudly as she ‘schlumpfs’ to the floor with her stuffed toy as if complaining, “Why CAN’T we play?” A periodic, pitiful whine is audible from across the room.

After a morning of work, she gets her way. “Alright girl, let’s go.” I bundle up, dead animal hat and all, and head out into the bitter air. A walk it is. Alive in the outdoor air, she is all action. Running ahead, racing back to meet me, running ahead again and digging in the snow for some undetectable (to my wimpy human nose) and clearly irresistible smell. I watch her and marvel at her sheer delight in her surroundings. Why CAN’T we play? We get so obsessed with working more to earn more money to buy more shiny new ‘stuff’ and in the end, all we have is a pile of stuff and no life. No play. Hmm.

When we get home, I go to the kitchen bookcase and rummage through the shelves until I find it: Baking for Your Dog - Tasty Treats for Your Four-Legged Friend by Ingeborg Pils. Crispy Bacon Rolls? Dixie’s Cheese Crunchies? Oh, here we go, Crunchy Sesame Bites. Some cheese, a couple of eggs and whole grains – I could add a little bacon…Easy enough. In no time we have them in the oven.

At the end of the day, I pile a bunch of pillows from the couch on the floor, bring my cup of tea and a few treats and curl up with my buddy to watch a film. When the crunching is over, I get a quick lick on the forehead from this ever-more-grey-haired old lady. A little thank you from my old friend. In a week, ‘dad’ will be home and we will be back in our busy daily routine but for now it’s just the two of us. A couple of snoozy old ladies at home in the woods. 

Bacon Sesame Snacks
adapted from the book Baking for Your Dog - Tasty Treats for Your Four-Legged Friend by Ingeborg Pils

2 c Six Grain Flour
2 Eggs
4 oz Shredded Swiss Cheese
3 oz Cream Cheese, softened
2 Tbsp Bacon Bits, if desired

Sesame seeds

Mix all of the ingredients except Sesame Seeds and Knead into a ball. (Add a tsp or two of water if needed.) Roll Tbsp size pieces of dough into oblongs, flatten slightly and dip one side into the seeds. (You can also make smaller bites for daintier palates.)

Bake the snacks, seed side up, on parchment paper at 350 degrees about 30 minutes or until lightly brown and crisp. Let dry overnight uncovered at room temperature before storing. Snacks should be very hard and dry. 

This book is a fun gift from dog to dog or dog owner to dog owner. 
Whether you give the book or its products, it will be welcomed by 
two and four legged friends alike. – It’s Maggie Recommended.

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