Happy Birthday Nova!

Winter here in Minnesota seems to last forever and this year is no exception. After being cooped up inside for weeks, you’re fairly certain time slows down and it’s very easy to lose track of time. Thankfully my phone has my back and reminded me Nova’s birthday was Friday so I had time to get things organized.

Her first birthday was pretty simple so I’d hoped to do a bit more this year, but moving back home made it a bit challenging. I also wanted to make it as fun as possible because she had a serious case of cabin fever. Nova managed to cut the underside of her paw, restricting her movements as well as having to keep her paw dry every time we were outside. On the plus side, winter here has been too insanely bitter to make outdoor playing virtually impossible. She’s been cooped up for about four weeks (or to those of us who have active dogs, it really feels like 40) and I wasn’t sure how to let her be active inside while not scaring the other two dogs in the house who are less than pleased with her happy and sometimes overly friendly attitude.

To my delight, winter cut me a break, and gave Nova the best birthday gift evvvvvvver: not only was it reasonable enough to let her go outdoors and play, we got about five inches of fresh snow. I’m quite aware just how much she loves snow, but until I watched her today barrel through snow drifts taller than her, I began to suspect she might be a Corgi version of Naga, the polar bear dog from The Legend of Korra….

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Nova also got a box of goodies from my ex boyfriend. Like most dogs, the box itself was the “fun” part of the gift, at least until she discovered the jolly ball and treats inside.

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All the pups get a special dinner for their birthday and Nova’s was probably the easiest I’ve ever done: a mix of Fromm salmon wet food, slightly crushed Fromm dry food and about a teaspoon or two of prepared Honest Kitchen ice pups mix as a binder (I froze the rest into ice cube trays for summer). I topped it off with some leftover cooked pasta and cut a bit of carrot to make her candles and the sprinkles around the plate. Everyone gets a bit of real cake as well, regardless if it’s a person or puppy birthday. I tried to get the super cute planned picture of her eating cake, but my camera isn’t fast enough for her Corgi appetite, but the photos I did get were more “her.”

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Review: Pawtriotic Dog Treats

Last year, I noticed Wet Noses dog treats promoting a new treat company, Pawtriotics. If Facebook members liked the Pawtriotics page, the first 1,000 would receive a free box of treats.

Despite the page surpassing 1,000 “likes” I was starting to worry her treats were never going to show up, or I wasn’t one of the first 1,000, but they arrived last month! Nova was very excited and interested in the treats, but I knew she would be ecstatic when I saw she had gotten peanut butter treats.

Like Wet Noses, they are made in the U.S. using quality ingredients (so glad to have another treat I can feed her without worrying) and are corn, soy and wheat free. Baking in small batches ensure consistently yummy treats. Plus, some of the proceeds go to helping animals in need and the company encourages owners to send in photos and original artwork of dogs that could be featured on the boxes.

The treats come in four flavors: apple pie, pumpkin pie, peanut butter and cranberry. I wasn’t sure which flavor Nova would get, but I knew she would gladly eat any of them.

more cookies!

What a face…Certainly shows off her intense “strong eye” common in herding breeds

I know what you’re thinking, that is a crazy huge photo, but I wanted Nova’s “I only got a few, I’m starving and I should have more” face very easy to see, making it clear they were a hit (and yes, I gave her another one. How could you deny such a sweet face??). I shared them with my other two dogs during my last trip to Minnesota and even their super picky tastebuds enjoyed them.

I highly recommend buying a box (or four!) for your dog. Pawtriotics is slowly being sold around the country, but at the moment, it seems like L.A. is the easiest place to find them at local pet stores and many Costco locations. You can also ask your local store to consider carrying them, or you can call Pawtriotics directly at (360) 794-190. Each box is $4.99 and there is a flat $5.00 shipping  anywhere in the continental U.S..

Turkey Gobblers For Nova

Last week I had half a roll of ground turkey left over from our dinner and I wasn’t quite sure what to do with it. I thought about saving it for another recipe, but I couldn’t think of another recipe that used such a small amount of turkey so I went back to my cookbooks, kept searching and found my answer in the Three Dog Bakery Cookbook. It was Nova’s lucky day.

I ended up altering the recipe because our cornmeal was expired, but she seemed to love them regardless. I even added a bit of cheese on top to some larger cookies, and mixed in about a teaspoon’s worth of cheese when I rerolled the dough. She got a few in her birthday box and I froze the rest for later.

Turkey Gobblers (adapted from Three Dog Bakery Cookbook)

-1 C ground turkey
-2 C white flour
-1/2 C quick oats
-1/2 C whole wheat flour
-1 egg
-3 T vegetable oil
-3/4 C water
-2 t parsley, fresh or dried

  • Preheat the oven to 375.
  • In a frying pan, cook the ground turkey, crumble into small pieces. Set aside on a paper towel to drain.
  • In a large bowl, combine the flours and oatmeal; in a small bowl, beat the egg, oil and water, then add the parsley.Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix well. Fold in the ground turkey and mix well again. If the dough seems a bit too dry, add a few tablespoons of water (I added about two).
  • Turn dough out on a lightly floured surface and knead until thoroughly mixed together. Roll out dough to 1/2-inch thick and cut out into shapes.
  • Placed on greased cookie sheets (or sheets lined with parchment) and bake for about 15 minutes, or until firm (reduce time if  your cookies are smaller). Cool, then serve. Store any leftovers in a sealed container in the fridge for up to one week, or freeze.

Nova got four cookies in her birthday box; the rest are in the freezer…

Happy Birthday Nova!

Yesterday, Nova said goodbye to her puppyhood and celebrated her first birthday. Like other parents, I wish I could keep her that way forever, but it is nice she’s old enough to be more “free” in the house without me watching over her every single second and to see her more adult coat coming in. I will certainly miss some things though, like her puppy breath (it sounds crazy, I know, but dog parents know what I’m talking about) and her chubby, all ears body.

Since it was her special day, we bought a few decorations and of course, I had to take some pictures. Gonna be honest, I’m quite impressed since I was taking these pictures alone that I was able to get one of her wearing that hat that wasn’t some blurry blob.

nova table banner

 

 

 

 

 

 

I thought she needed to look her best, which gave me a chance to try her new sweater on her. I will confess, the sole reason I bought it is because the model dog was also a Corgi and it looked soooo cute, I was sold that Nova would look equally cute. It was also a good way to see how she would tolerate something other than a jacket, giving me hope I could dress her up for Halloween. 

And since she was looking so spiffy, I thought it was the perfect time for a group picture!

nova bday shot

Nova’s favorite bits of her birthday were definitely food related (although it also snowed and she loved romping around in it). Instead of her usual dry dog food, she got some Grandma Lucy’s for breakfast and some lean ground beef (which meant some for me as well–yaaay) with rice for dinner. But the highlight: finally getting another carrot peanut butter cupcake I had made a few weeks before. This time, I cored the cupcake and filled it with crunchy peanut butter, then frosted it with a mix of peanut butter and honey, garnished with an apple heart.

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Unlike the last cupcake, eaten so daintily, she inhaled this one. The apple heart was the last thing to be eaten, and I suppose I can’t blame her on that….She also got a small box coarboard filled with some of her favorite things: homemade turkey cookies, some leftover paper towel tubes filled with small treats and a new toy. She decided to eat all the goodies, then shredded the paper towel tubes and finally the box (the cheapest toy evvvver). She ignored the toy for a few hours then rediscovered it, and is happily squeaking it to death by the patio window.

Nova has changed quite a bit as she’s gotten older, both in size and maturity. It’s been fun to watch her understand more of what’s expected of her and look at some things, including toys she’s had since she was a baby in a different light. I can’t wait to see what kind of things she’ll learn, as well as how much mischief she will get into over the next year!

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Nova’s First Snow

It’s odd to be posting pictures of snow and writing about it when almost all of our snow in Nebraska has melted. Not that I’m totally complaining, mind you. It’s been kinda nice to not have to seriously bundle up to go outside, but I’m sure winter will have its revenge and we’ll get a blizzard before spring hits.

I spent Christmas up in Minnesota with my family, and when I left Nebraska, we still hadn’t gotten any snow to speak of, just a light dusting. I was mainly disappointed because I really wanted to see Nova run around in the snow. Well, I got my wish in Minnesota….

Just before we visited, they had gotten a huuuuge snowstorm (about 18 inches at the house), and despite a rainstorm, there was still plenty left. I got to see Nova run around in the snow A LOT. The first time I just went out with mittens, hat and my coat. Big mistake. Nova wanted to play like a child plays in the snow, with full on enthusiasm, leaping into drifts taller than her, then jumping up on me. I ended up having to buy some winter boots and dug my snowpants from middle school out of storage (I am just shocked they still actually fit). She also got some nice winter gear: a coat and a great pair of boots. I know she’s a dog and doesn’t need them, but I also knew she would probably play out there all day and wouldn’t realize her feet were freezing. We borrowed a pair one of my other dogs used; she quickly lost in bounding through a snowdrift in the park (couldn’t find it before we left for Nebraska either!). I spent a long time looking for a decent pair that would stay on after that, and ended up buying her Ultra Paws Durable dog boots in small. I liked the double velcro straps and the foam inside the boots that helped prevent her paws from slipping out. They did a nice job of helping her not slip around on icy spots and kept her paws pretty dry. The first few minutes watching her try to walk in them was hilarious, but she adjusted very quickly. I made them seem like extra fun because as soon as they were on we went out to play, and once she was out, the forgot all about them!

As much as I complain about the cold and hate having to bundle it, I must admit it was so much fun to play outdoors with Nova. I don’t think I’ve actually played in the snow since I was in elementary school….Granted, I couldn’t/didn’t want to stay out nearly as long as when I was little, and tumbling down to the ground hurt a lot more now, but I actually started to look forward to going out with her. I had a blast throwing snowballs at Nova and watching her frantically dig through the snow to find it, and she had a great time barreling through the snowman I made. I even bought a cheap snow saucer sled, thinking she would love to slide down with me (I saw pictures of someone on Pinterest doing it with their dog). Wrong. The sound of the sled scraping against the snow freaked her out so she refused to ride on it, but she did like chasing me when I went down the hill and using it like a big Frisbee.

If you have a pet, I encourage you to go out and actually play in the snow with them. It’s fun to see how they react to the snow and it’s a great way for everyone to get out of the house and get some exercise!

Nova enjoying the dusting of snow in NE

Nova’s first real experience with snow in MN

If you look closely, you’ll see she’s trying to catch a snowball

Nova wearing the borrowed boots; her paws were drenched, but she still had fun

Ah, nothing like running free through lots of snow

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Nova resting after leaping in the snow with her new boots

Birthday Cake For Nova

I was already having enough trouble coping with it being mid-January when I realized that also meant Nova’s first birthday was coming up. I couldn’t believe she was going to be a year old already….It felt like a few months ago she was still a tiny puppy, curious about the world and all chubby. Then, while I’m having a precious flashback moment, she does something naughty like steal socks from the laundry and her late teen attitude quickly reminds me otherwise while I chase her down for the sock.

Birthdays mean three things: a party with loved ones, gifts and food. Dog or not, Nova was going to have all three. It seemed only fair since my other two dogs always have parties of their own. The party would be small, probably just Mike and I, letting Nova do all her favorite things (chasing balls in the basement or cuddling on the couch) but if the weather wasn’t too bad, maybe a trip to the dog park on the weekend to celebrate with her dog park friends. Gifts were easy, too: some new treats, a toy and a chewable of some sort, either an antler or a Himalyan dog chew (if your dog is a power chewer, these are your best bets: they last for months) and a Flexi leash. But what to do about food?

Nova loves all types of foods and I love any excuse to bake so I thought it would be fun to make her a dog birthday cake. I did some searching and found one I knew she’d love: carrot peanut butter cake. I decided to bake a batch now so if they failed or weren’t any good, I still had time to try again.

I didn’t have a six cup cupcake tin so I improvised and used a standard 12 cup tin; I ended up with nine. One of the corners of a cupcake broke off and I decided to eat it. They were in desperate need of sugar to make them tasty for people, but the cake itself was nice and moist and the mix of carrot and peanut butter tasted much better than it sounded. I frosted one cupcake with a mix of cream cheese and chunky peanut butter and topped it with a chunk of apple before serving it to a very impatient Nova.

Cooling muffins

Nova sat in front of the counter the whole time they cooled, hoping I might give her one early

Cupcakes up close

Can I eat it now?!

“Foods? For me? Can I eat it now?”

To my surprise, Nova didn’t inhale it like I figured she would. Instead she licked off most of the frosting (more proof she is my puppy), then stared at it, puzzled at what to do next. I ended up cutting it into wedges for her.

Nomnomnom

Much easier to eat in wedges: nomnomnom!

Licked clean

Licking up every last crumb

In a matter of minutes, she had devoured the cupcake and licked the plate clean, which she then shoved my way and gave me a look that said, “why is my plate empty?” I told her they were all gone, but she is smart and her nose told her otherwise. I wrapped the leftovers in foil and stashed them in the freezer, clearly marking the bag “cupcakes for Nova” so Mike didn’t think I had made him muffins and have an…interesting surprise when he ate one at work. If she’s just as crazy about them on her birthday, I might make another batch in a mini muffin tin and keep them on hand when she deserves an extra yummy reward or more incentive to do something (ie: bath time).

“Mom, you liiiied, there are more cupcakes!”

Carrot Peanut Butter Doggie Cupcake (adapted from ROMP Italian Greyhound Rescue)

Ingredients:
1 large egg
1/4 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup honey
1 cup shredded carrots
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 12 cup cupcake tin with cupcake papers, or lightly grease each cup. Combine the egg, peanut butter, oil, and honey in a large bowl. Add in the carrots and stir to combine.

Combine the flour and baking soda in a small bowl and add to the carrot mixture. Stir until fully incorporated. Divide among prepared cupcake tins. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few crumbs on it. Remove from oven and let cool on wire rack. If desired, frost tops with a little peanut butter, a mix of softened cream cheese and peanut butter, melted carob, low fat cottage cheese, wet dog food, etc.

Sweet Potato Puppy Treats

Since I’ve been back home in Minnesota with Nova, the usual feeding routine has become a little bit trickier-trying to feed three dogs at similar times in the right order (head dog to lowest dog) and make sure no one eats someone else’s is a little more time consuming.

Giving them treats (or as we call them, cookie treats) is even more problematic. Nova is still working on basic training so she tends to get a treat quite often, and will happily eat and enjoy whatever you give her. Indie and Pippin, however, are much older and only get treats for certain things, like after a good walk or as a bedtime snack. Indie is also a bit overweight so her treats are even more sparse. But, unlike Nova, Indie and Pippin are a pair of picky eaters. Between the concerns about treats made in China and looking for healthier, safer alternatives, they’ve tried many brands and flavors, but rarely like the same treat. As you can imagine finding a treat all three will eat is virtually impossible. That changed when I bought a trial pack of Sam’s Yams from our local pet store.

I gave Nova the biggest piece and to our surprise, Indie and Pippin showed a lot of interest (well, even more than they do whenever they hear a bag rattle). I figured Nova would love hers, as she likes some other treats that have sweet potatoes in them, but Indie and Pippin are notorious for ignoring anything that includes them, so I cut one of the Bichon Fries into two small chunks and handed them out. After a few puzzled moments everyone had happily eaten their piece and were looking for more! We were stunned. We were even happier because both Indie and Pippin have less than stellar teeth so finding a chewable they’ll gnaw on for a period of time is tough (although they do love the Zuke’s Z Bones), but the Sam’s Yams have patented ridges for cleaning.

At this point I was kinda bummed I didn’t buy an actual bag at the store, but they were pretty expensive for dried pieces of sweet potato. I decided I would try and make them at home in the oven, but my mom reminded me we had a dehydrator. Not only would it be easier to use, we wouldn’t have to run the oven for three odd hours-a MAJOR bonus when the temps and humidity outside are scorching.

I bought the biggest, most uniform sweet potato I could find. Even though it’d be well washed, I was going to leave the skin on, I shelled out a bit more for an organic one. It’d be easier if the slices were a uniform thickness so I tried our mandoline. Granted, it’s not a very expensive model and it’s fairly old, but sweet potatoes are dense and my slicing was fairly difficult. I switched over to a good old fashioned knife and a cutting board.

Sweet potato slices

A more uniform in shape sweet potato is easier to slice evenly

In hopes of mimicking the fries, I tried the mandoline again using a julienne blade, but they were pretty small and equally tough to do so I cut the rest into thick chunks.

Julienned pieces

The few “fry sized” slices

Chunky fries

I cut these into wedges hoping for a thicker finished product

Our dehydrator is old and doesn’t have any temperature controls, but after doing some research online, it looked like the minimum amount of time was about three hours. Some of the pieces/slices were done by then, but most of them required about five hours total.

Finished treats

As you can see, the thinner ones were quite crispy while the slices were slightly crisp on the edges and chewy in the middle

They didn’t have the same ridges as Sam’s Yams, but they felt and looked pretty close. I gave one to each pup (again, Nova got a large slice while Indie and Pippin each got a fry) and waited for the results. Having already tasted them, they were less skeptical and they went down even quicker. Success!! I even tried one and was pleasantly surprised. I’m usually not a fan of sweet potatoes, but dehydrating them made them much sweeter and the crunchiness made them seem more like a potato chip than a veggie.

While they’re a bit more time consuming than just running to the store and grabbing a bag, making them myself is sooooo much cheaper, I know exactly what’s in them and I can control the size and texture to fit each dog’s needs.

Sweet Potato Chews for Puppies

1 large sweet potato, washed well and dried (you may also peel it, but our pups liked the crunchy skin)

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven/dehydrator to 250
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper
  • Cut off one side of the sweet potato lengthwise, as close to the edge as possible, allowing you to have a flat surface to make cutting easier, or slice using a mandoline, making sure slices are no smaller than 1/4″ (most treats are about 1/3″ thick)
  • place the slices on the baking sheet in a single layer
  • Bake for 3 hours, turning slices halfway through (this is optional if using a dehydrator, but you might need to rotate the trays–consult your dehydrator’s manual for more information)
  • Cool completely on a wire rack
  • Store in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 3 weeks, or in the freezer for up to 4 months

Tips & Tricks:

  • Try to pick a sweet potato as uniform in size as possible. This will aid in the drying process. Look for a potato with fewer blemishes or bruises.
  • You can experiment cutting the potato into different sizes and shapes to suit your dog’s taste. In my case, Nova likes larger, thicker chews, but Pippin, who has a small mouth likes thinner, softer chews
  • Baking for 3 hours results in a soft, but chewy treat. For a crunchier treat, bake for an additional 20 to 30 minutes, but check on them often.
  • When the pieces come out of the oven, they may appear to be too soft, but once cooled, you’ll be able to tell if they need to be baked longer or not.

**UPDATE** Well, it turns out Indie and Pippin are back to their picky ways; we’ve offered the sweet potato treats again at various times (and various sizes and textures), but neither one will eat them again. On the bright side, Nova is quite thrilled to eat their leftovers!!

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