About once a week, I spend an hour or two perusing letters and notes from participants of the various electronic “discussion groups” I have joined. I have a favorite canine health and feeding group and a favorite dog training group that I like to eavesdrop on. Mostly, I’m what they call a “lurker,” someone who reads other people’s letters and rarely contributes. I feel like I contribute enough in this forum!
A couple of weeks ago, on the health and feeding list, I was skimming through comments from people on opposite sides of the “raw feeding” issue when I saw a simple but profound comment that made me catch my breath.
As it often happens, a newcomer to the list had asked a basic question: What do you feed your dogs? And several people had described the rather detailed, complex diets they prepare for their dogs, including fresh ground raw meat and bones, fresh vegetables, whole ground grains, and supplements. And, as the case often goes, several other people jumped in so they could hoot at the people who so devotedly prepared these lavish meals for their dogs. One person wrote in a slightly condescending tone, “Who has TIME to buy and prepare meals for their dogs? I sure don’t!” She clearly thought that anyone who took the time to do this must have an exceedingly boring or over-soft life.
And then came the quiet comment, from another member of the group, that set me on my heels:
“We all have the same amount of time.
“We all choose how we use it.”
You see, I use the “I don’t have TIME” excuse ALL the time! In the last week alone, I’ve caught myself saying I didn’t have enough time to exercise, to cook dinner, to attend a Little League meeting, to help with a class party at my son’s elementary school, or to go visit the friend of a friend, who has invited me to come over and ogle her dog’s litter of four five-week-old puppies. (And good gracious! If you don’t have time to go snuggle with puppies, what’s wrong with you?)
It’s difficult to take full responsibility for our choices; saying you “don’t have time” is a common cop-out, a way to say “That’s not very important to me,” without sounding bad, to yourself or to those around you. As much as I love my dog, I have to be honest in saying that he is not the most important member of the family, and thus, he’s not going to get fed as if he were. I have not yet constructed my life in such a way as to MAKE the time to shop for and prepare whole, nutritious foods for myself, my husband, or my son on a daily basis – about four nights a week is average, and the dog and the cat eat well on those occasions, too. But at least I’m aware that it would be beneficial for ALL of us, pets included, to eat better, fresher food, and I have it in mind to start trying to arrange it.
The homemade dog food people have an expression that they like to use to convince the nonbelievers: “Spend your money on good dog food, and you won’t be spending it on vet bills.” Replace “money” with “time” in that statement and it’s just as accurate. Replace “dog food” and “vet bills” with “human food” and “doctor’s bills” and it’s just as on-target.
I’ve almost convinced myself to take the leap and make Rupert’s food from scratch. He’s been “testing” the raw, frozen diets discussed on the next page, and he’s thrilled with the upgrade from dry food. When I go food shopping this Saturday, I’m going to check out the meat department (a place I rarely visit) and compare prices.
That is, right after I get home from a visit to those four puppies.
-By Nancy Kerns