Friday, March 28, 2008

You Are What You're Fed

Couper’s Mommy and I make an effort to try to eat right. We don’t exactly kill ourselves trying - we both work (Lottery, hello???) and resort to heat-up meals and pizza from time to time - but we try. We also are on a budget right now and try not to go crazy with exotic foods or eating out too much. Generally we eat, to varying degrees, a lot of chicken, some pasta, hamburgers, steak, and of course pizza.

Couper on the other hand eats this:
  • Main breakfast and dinner: Evo – (Beef, lamb, buffalo, venison, potatoes, eggs, apples, carrots, tomatoes)
  • Breakfast Add-in: Salmon treats.
  • Dinner Add-in: Born to be Wild – ($25/lb) (Bison, elk, venison, freeze dried fresh fruits and vegetables, concentrated Omega3, Anitoxidants)
  • Yummies:
  • Chicken and Apple – ($18/lb) - Free Range chicken wrapped around an apple. He loves these and get them as a reward if he does a number 3 (that's a number one and number two in one trip outside).
  • Chicken Jerky - $25 a pound
  • Turkey Jerky - $25 a pound - When available
  • Liver Biscotti
  • Newman Biscuits
  • Iams Biscuits
  • Freeze Dried Ice Cream (Previously mentioned).
  • Pupperoni – We know that is not healthy, but sometimes you have to eat the equivalent of McDonalds/Dairy Queen
Before we go on to how we got to this point let me point out a couple of things. Couper's Mommy and I never eat things that are $25/lb. I think I would have six coronaries while grilling something that was $25/lb and then would not be able to enjoy it afterwards because it couldn't live up to expectations - not to mention the six coronaries, which I bet hurts. Couper's Mommy and I also rarely eat exotic stuff like venison, elk, and lamb. We rarely have buffalo. I am not sure I want venison or elk, but it sounds exciting. All the chicken that Couper's Mommy and I eat have never seen a free range in their lives, unless there are free range McNuggets that I don't know about. There, I got that off my chest.

How we got here...
It wasn’t always like this. When we first got Couper, he was “eating” Kibbles and Bits. Closer to the truth is he was picking at Kibbles and Bits but really saving his appetite for yummies. One day I went to Wal-Mart and they were giving away sample bags of Iams. The lady patiently explained to me that the sample was to take home for my dog and not for me to eat at the store (to be safe, when offered samples of chicken enchiladas at Costco, I now ask if it is for me or the dog – they generally are not amused). Anyhow, I brought it home, Couper ate it, and we switched to the “healthier” dog food.

As time passed we added more Iams products to Couper’s diet. They invented three varieties of sauce to mix with his food; beef, chicken, and bacon. Of course Couper’s Big Buddy was all over buying him that. Couper loved that stuff and eventually became picky about eating without it. Iams also got in the business of making pouches of wet dog food. It was not messy like cans and actually looked pretty decent. Couper would inhale those when he was lucky enough to get them.
Couper always had top notch yummies, but we did have a lot more Beggin' Treats and Snausages in those days to go along with his freeze dried ice cream and liver biscotti.

Things were going along pretty smoothly until the spring of 2007 and the big pet food recall. At first it looked like we were safe, that only the most generic of canned dog foods were involved. Then it kept expanding. Soon it was discovered that many of the major manufacturers were using the same suppliers. Then we saw Couper’s Iams sauce and pouched foods on the list. One or the other that we fed him at least once daily for the last six months. The codes on the products we had corresponded with the recalled codes.

To make matters worse, while investigating dog food on the internet, we discovered that grapes were bad for dogs. Couper’s Mommy and I had been eating grapes for desert in our quest to eat healthy. One day one of us (likely Big Buddy – maybe even accidentally) dropped one and Couper ate it right up. Not knowing any better, we began to share them with him. Hey, they’re natural right? Must be OK. It got to the point that if we had grapes and were not sharing, he would give us the sad-eyed stare down. If we ate them on the sofa, he would not just climb up on our laps to get a grape, he would climb up our bodies. We also got into the habit of putting a grape in with his dog food if he needed incentive to eat.

So between the Iams recall and grapes, we were scared to death. To compound things, Couper had hurt his back the previous Christmas. Now we were unsure if his occasional lethargy was due to his back or our poisoning him (A subsequent vet visit confirmed it was his back).

We had visited the “natural dog food store” in our town (your town has one too, I guarantee it) before, but despite a lecture from the owner on the evils of “corporate” dog food and the virtues of “natural” food, had stayed with Iams. After the recall, we were determined to change. We did our research on the internet and decided to go with Dick Van Patten’s Natural Balance. Yes, dog food endorsed by name by the dad on Eight is Enough. How could we go wrong? It’s not like his snacks were named after Willie Ames. (Side note: Dick Van Patten beat out Paul Newman, thought you would never see that in print in any context, did you?). Well, it went wrong. Couper enjoyed the food, but not more than a month or two later, some of Dick’s products were recalled. Amazingly, two of the products we had bought were among the recalled items. We should have known better, considering the haphazard way he raised Nicolas all those years ago.

So we changed foods again. This time we went primal with Evo, which claims to be "the ancestral diet". We stopped buying chicken jerky from Costco, despite the appealing price, because it was made in China and started buying the $25/pound variety made in the USA. Although Couper likes his new food, we got talked into the Born to Be Wild supplement that he scarfs down. Hopefully, we now have the healthiest eating dog in the world. He at least eats healthier than his best human friends. It seems easier to eat healthy when you are being fed then when you have control of your own diet. Maybe we should have Couper feed us. Then maybe we can find out if we like elk and venison.

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