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Dog Obsessed: The Honest Kitchen's Complete Guide to a Happier, Healthier Life for the Pup You Love

Dog Obsessed: The Honest Kitchen's Complete Guide to a Happier, Healthier Life for the Pup You Love


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Are you OBSESSED with your dog?

Have you ever canceled plans because you’d rather spend Saturday night with your pup? Does your dog have his own Facebook page or Instagram feed? When you go on vacation, does your furry BFF come along with her own suitcase?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, this dog-care book is for you! Packed with expert tips on dog park etiquette, good grooming, holiday safety, and how to visit friends and family with your dog in tow (hint: BYO treats and a special blanket), Dog Obsessed combines humorous advice with sound, veterinarian-approved programs for weight loss, exercise, and physical and emotional health. Including 45 easy-to-prepare, homemade dog food recipes (plus celebratory party fare and wine pairings for you!), Dog Obsessed is the definitive guide to enjoying a happier, healthier life with your favorite furry family member.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781623367480
Publisher: Harmony/Rodale
Publication date: 10/11/2016
Pages: 256
Product dimensions: 7.40(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Lucy Postins founded The Honest Kitchen, a company that makes all-natural, human-grade whole foods for pets, in 2002. She started the company after her homemade diet helped her first Rhodesian Ridgeback, Mosi, with some health problems that weren’t clearing up with vet-prescribed medications. He was the dog who first inspired Lucy’s Dog Obsession: Mosi’s first homemade Christmas breakfast used up the last of the eggs and left Lucy’s husband, Charlie, eating granola. And camping trips meant the couple would be squeezed on one side of the tent because Mosi needed an airbed to himself.

Today, Lucy runs The Honest Kitchen with Ridgebacks Taro and Willow at her side. He likes to help himself to employees’ unattended sandwiches, and she enjoys acting as the office’s own fun police, making sure none of the other office cowoofers spend too much time wrestling, running in the corridors, or playing with toys.

Read an Excerpt

I often ask myself, "What is it that makes us Dog Obsessed?" Is it the fact that we've written off a prospective suitor because of our dog's lackluster reaction to him? Or because before we bought our last car, we measured the front passenger seat to make sure that our dog's bed would fit on it? Perhaps it's the fact that we might have made our husband's best friend sit on a beanbag chair on the floor because our pup was snoozing on the couch, and it just seemed too mean to wake him. . . .

Yes, all of this reflects extreme devotion, and to some it might seem crazy, but we know better. But Dog Obsession speaks to something much deeper.

Consider this example: On a Christmas morning many years ago, my husband, Charlie, woke up to a strange rustling sound. No, it wasn't Santa tumbling down the chimney; it was me in the kitchen, preparing scrambled eggs. Charlie sat up eagerly and thought to himself, Terrific! Christmas breakfast in bed. What a wonderful surprise! Then he made himself comfortable and began to anticipate my return with his breakfast feast on a tray.

Instead, I came in empty-handed. There was Charlie, sitting in his pajamas with a puzzled look on his face that quickly turned into a look of dismay.

"What's wrong?" I said.

"Were those scrambled eggs I heard you making?"

"Yes," I replied nonchalantly.

"Might they be getting cold?" he asked.

I paused. "Oh, that was Mosi's Christmas breakfast! I didn't think to make you any. And actually, now all the eggs are gone. Would granola do?"

I'd been so eager to make Mosi's first Christmas morning perfect that I'd failed to even give a moment's thought to Charlie.

That is Dog Obsession. It's not just waking in the morning thinking about your dog; it's loving him so much that sometimes you put his needs, wants, and happiness before all else.

But I think there might be even more to it than that.

Every winter one American sporting event dominates the airwaves. Millions of people eagerly turn on their televisions during prime-time hours to watch a heated contest that pits the best of the best against one another, each battling for the right to call himself the winner. The competitors train for months, and what they go through tests their emotional and physical limits. Advertising dollars pour in, and attendees flock to a stadium to witness the event live, paying thousands of dollars for seats.

The Super Bowl, you say?

Well, I suppose you could be right, though we Dog Obsessed usually tune in to the Puppy Bowl. And if we do get dragged to a Super Bowl party, we'll likely have our pooch in tow or will end up leaving early because we can't bear the thought of him watching it at home alone.

But I digress. I was actually describing something far more exciting: Westminster. Started in 1877, the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show is the world's most popular dog breed competition and the second-longest running sporting event in the nation, just behind the Kentucky Derby. While it's garnered some criticism from organizations like PETA for promoting pure breeds and breeding over rescue and adoption (all competitors are purebred dogs and must have papers in order to have a go at the dog show circuit), no one can argue that the dogs themselves aren't beautiful. Gorgeously groomed, with happy dispositions and pearly white smiles from ear to ear, they're pristine examples of dogs well-loved and well-raised. The swagger with which they enter the ring and the bounce in their step let you know they've got it pretty cushy, even after the show is over.

The Dog Obsessed Aren't Surprised to Hear That . . .

Seventy-nine percent of American dog owners say the quality of their pup's food is as important as the quality of their own.

I often watch the dog show, and one thing has always struck me: While the ancestors of these dogs were bred many years ago with a very specific purpose, chances are that today's dogs aren't fulfilling it. Yes, while the Old English Sheepdog whose name is something like Percival Butterscotch Little Lord Fauntleroy probably could herd a flock of sheep if he wanted to, on a typical Friday evening he's more likely to be found sitting in his dog bed with a slobbery chew toy, having just enjoyed a shampoo and trim, facial, and blowout.

His owner didn't buy him to tend sheep any more than you bought your dog to find truffles in the backyard or shoo rats off a ship. He shelled out thousands of dollars for his dog and continues to do so because he's obsessed with dogs, and he knows that feeding him well, grooming him to perfection, and providing him with the ultimate pampered life will bring his dog boundless joy. More than that, the show dog owner simply loves the happiness dogs bring to his world. He understands that treating his pet well helps that dog find his true purpose, which is to shine, and then let everyone around him bask in that glow.

If you're reading this, chances are you probably feel the same.

In my years working in the pet food industry, I've found that people who are flat-out nutty about their dogs share a few common principles. Everyone who works at The Honest Kitchen certainly possesses them, too. These are elevated, even aspirational notions about what it means to be a dog owner— principles you follow because doing so makes you a good dog owner and makes your dog a happy pet. Most people no longer buy dogs because they'll work for them in some professional capacity. We add dogs to our families because they say something about how we want to live our lives, and we follow these principles to create a more beautiful, harmonious world—for animals and humans alike.


While scrambled eggs were always Mosi's number one breakfast choice, these scrumptious pancakes were a close second. These have the added bonus of being gluten-free, so they're great for more sensitive dogs. Makes 8 to 10 pup-size pancakes

1 cup Love dehydrated dog food
1 1/2 cups warm water
2 free-range eggs, beaten
2 slices bacon, cooked and chopped
1/2 cup millet flour
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh strawberries
Safflower oil or butter for cooking

1. In a large glass bowl, hydrate the Love with the warm water. Add the eggs, bacon, flour, and strawberries. Stir to combine.

2. In a large skillet over medium heat, heat a small quantity of oil or butter. For each pancake, pour a ladleful of the batter into the pan and cook until just golden brown on the bottom. Turn carefully using a spatula, and cook until golden brown on the second side. Transfer to a plate to cool. The pancakes can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.


Pets Are Family

More than 90 percent of Americans consider a pet to be a part of their family. I've spoken to many customers over the years who've confessed to preferring the company of their dogs to that of their own husbands and a few who've mentioned they might serve some Honest Kitchen food to those husbands, too. (Although I'm not sure how many of them have actually followed through.) For the Dog Obsessed, pets are included in our holiday photos and greeting cards, have their own Christmas stockings, and are told "I love you" just as often as our children are. If I'm traveling for work for any length of time, I find Facetime to be a useful way to check in with my hounds. Our Pug, Johnson, was blind, so he was perfectly fine with a quick chat on speakerphone, but the Ridgebacks seem to enjoy the visuals. In some Dog-Obsessed homes, owners have installed cameras so they can watch their pets while they're at work. Others have also installed two-way intercoms so they can speak to them during the day, in case the dogs get lonely!

Recent scientific research has shown, however, that a dog's place in the family is even more significant than once thought. Dogs aren't just sources of love; they also serve important roles in shaping the fundamental dynamics of the family structure. Dogs may serve as peacemakers, entering a room during an argument and diffusing the situation. A crying child may be comforted by a lick from a dog, cementing the dog's role as the family healer. I vividly remember being in labor with our first daughter, doubled over to get through a contraction, when Mosi came into the room and rested his chin right on the small of my back, exactly where it hurt the most. And I can't tell you how many slightly tense Honest Kitchen board meetings have been diffused by Willow putting her head up close and personal in someone's lap or Taro helping himself to one of the investor's bagels.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, if there are cracks in a family, a dog may expose them. In the same way that a couple on the brink of divorce shouldn't try to have a baby to bring them together, they shouldn't expect a dog to cure family wounds. A troubled couple may differ on what's considered appropriate behavior for the family dog, battle over how strict or lenient one needs to be, and argue about how much to spend on him. According to Dr. David Blouin, a sociologist at Indiana University South Bend, these differing opinions aren't mere skirmishes. Rather, they reveal family ideologies that are as deeply embedded as religion or cultural heritage. Essentially, your ideas about your dog reflect your ideas about how family life, society, and the world at large function.

The Dog Obsessed understand this deep in our bones.


The Source Matters

At The Honest Kitchen, we care about where our ingredients come from. We use 100 percent natural, non-GMO, whole food ingredients that are prepared in a human-grade facility. Later in this book we'll get a little more into what those fancy terms mean—and why they should matter to you—but the main point is that our food meets the highest standards of quality, integrity, and nutrition.

The American Pet Products Association's 2014 report shows that pet owners' pet food buying habits have changed dramatically in recent years, and we're now more focused than ever on products that are gluten-free, responsibly sourced, minimally processed, and free of artificial additives. Dog- Obsessed people also seek out single-source proteins and limited-ingredient recipes made with non-GMO, certified organic ingredients that many might think of as gourmet, such as pumpkin, green beans, papayas, quinoa, parsnips, navy beans, and duck. This means we really think about how food affects our dogs, and we understand that good food is an investment that increases our chances of having a truly healthy pet who's free of allergies, skin conditions, and illnesses.

The Dog Obsessed think about more than the sources of their dogs' foods, though. Putting proper thought into the origin of the animal himself is absolutely essential. We know that dogs born in puppy mills are much more likely to suffer from terrible behavioral and health problems, so we would never buy a dog from a pet shop or online broker. The Dog Obsessed also understand that it's vital to find a veterinarian who has an open mind about holistic and alternative cures, and we know that a good vet attempts to find the root cause of a dog's condition rather than just temporarily alleviating his symptoms.

The Dog Obsessed realize that quality matters, and we seek out the best sources of food, care, and companions in order to give our dogs the finest lives possible.


You Must Listen to Your Dog

It's been shown that dogs speak a language that's comprised of three dimensions: pitch, duration, and frequency or repetition rate of vocalizations. The Dog Obsessed know this, so we really listen to our dogs to try to understand what they're trying to tell us.

Let's say your dog is in the living room, and he hears a set of footsteps coming down the path to your house. You see his ears perk up and his head lift from its resting place on the edge of your armchair. Suddenly he leaps to his feet, and . . . charge! He runs toward the door and begins barking in a deep yet frantic manner. It's the postman, and if he doesn't watch out, your dog might turn him into kibble—or at least that's the impression he's trying to convey. In contrast, a playful bark that's urging a friend to indulge him in a game of chase (or politely requesting that you throw the ball for him just one more time) has a completely different, somehow joyful, enthusiastic tone.

If you understand a dog's language, you'll know that a deep bark indicates that he's trying to appear larger than he is; short, staccato barks indicate fear. So as the wretched, much-loathed postal worker approaches the door, you can tell by listening to your dog that while he's trying to appear aggressive, he's in fact scared.

If he were intending to hold his ground, his barks would be of a longer duration, yet no shallower. But the fact that he continues woofing indicates that he's interested. If he weren't, he'd only yip occasionally.


The only things that will make your dog happier than time with you are these cupcakes, which include a variety of healthy superfoods that are bursting with vitamins, minerals, and health-promoting antioxidants. They have an irresistible turkey taste, too! Makes 12 cupcakes

1 cup Embark dehydrated dog food
1 cup warm water
1/2 cup shredded chard (tough stalks removed)
1/2 cup canned unsweetened pumpkin (not pie mix)
1/4 cup fresh blueberries
1 free-range egg, beaten
2/3 cup plain yogurt
2 slices bacon, cooked and finely chopped

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place paper liners in a 12-cup muffin pan.

2. In a large glass bowl, hydrate the Embark with the warm water. Add the chard, pumpkin, blueberries, and egg. Stir gently until the mixture is thoroughly combined.

3. Divide the mixture among the paper liners. Bake for 40 minutes, or until the cupcakes are just crispy on top and a knife can slide out clean. Cool completely.

4. Spoon the yogurt into a cereal bowl or onto a plate, and carefully dip the top of each cooled cupcake into the yogurt to "frost." Decorate each cupcake by sprinkling a small quantity of the chopped bacon on top, and serve as a treat between meals. The cupcakes can be frozen or stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Table of Contents

Foreword Jane Lynch viii

Introduction: Why Being Obsessed with Your Dog Is Completely Okay x

Chapter 1 The Guiding Principles of the Dog Obsessed: The Common Traits of those Who Are Flat Out Nutty about Pups 1

Chapter 2 Picking a Pup: Understanding You New Dog's One-of-a Kind Personality 13

Chapter 3 It's a Dog's World: The Happy Home Life of the Dog Obsessed 33

Chapter 4 Food, Glorious Dog Food: Understanding Your Pet's Nutritional Needs 53

Chapter 5 Mealtime Misgivings: Grappling with Picky Eating, Fat Dogs, and Food Sensitivities 75

Chapter 6 Dog Health: From the Ears to the Undercarriage (and Everything in Between) 95

Chapter 7 The Doctor is in: Finding and Keeping the Best Veterinarian for Your Dog 127

Chapter 8 The Emotional Lives of Dogs: Anxiety, Jealousy, and Other Issues 139

Chapter 9 Holidays, Plane Trips, and More: The Jet-Setting Life of the Dog Obsessed 157

Chapter 10 Run, Play, and Fetch: Easy, Essential Exercises for a Happy, Healthy Pup 179

Chapter 11 Fun, Games, Picnics, and Parties: Perfect Birthdays, Excursions, and make-at-Home Toys 195

Meals For You and Your Dog-With Wine! 211

Recommended Reading 228

Acknowledgments 229

Index 231

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