A post should appear every Sunday
Sunday February 26th 2023
On Saturday we return to Chester’s Corner. Lee is surprised to see us again so soon, and thinks that I must have come to make a complaint!
When I report that I added fish to the first meal, he is not impressed.
“The worst thing you could do!”, he says sternly. “You rewarded her for not eating what you gave her.”
Duly chastened, I assure him that after this one indulgence, Isis has happily eaten her kibbles.
Lee is a nutritionist, and sells a large range of food for dogs, including his own recipes branded ‘Naturally’, which are made up at one of Britain’s two animal food factories, the same one which makes recipes such as Burns, Lily’s Kitchen and James Wellbeloved.
When Isis was weighed on our first visit, she was 16. 67 kilos. Lee thinks that 15 kilos is her ideal weight, and so do I. He explains that many kibbles contain a sizeable proportion of wheat flour which is very filling, and that a more natural diet would be less filling and more nutritious. Isis and I have a good sniff / look at the stock while other customers are advised and served.
I study several contents labels, and like what I read on the Naturally labels. I decide to hedge my bets and opt to buy a 2 kilo bag rather than a 56 kilo one, even though the larger bag is much more economical.
Hmmm, but which one? I think that the beef is the most likely to go down well with Isis, but then I wonder whether lamb or rabbit might be equally acceptable.
“If you want to try her out with some of them,” Lee tells me, “we have samples, so take some home and try them before you buy a 2 kilo bag.”
I think this is an excellent idea, and leave the store with four free samples: beef, rabbit, lamb and salmon.
I have been instructed that consistency is essential, and that correct amount for Isis to eat is exactly 60 grams for each of her two meals.
At home, I rough out a little chart to record her reactions to the different flavours. We try the beef first, or, at least I do: Isis has a sniff at her bowl, walks out of the kitchen and settles on the day bed.
My heart sinks, but I must stick to the rules: 60 grams of the new kibbles, and nothing else. Hard-heartedly, after about an hour, I begin to cook myself the fish which last night I’d at last remembered to put in the fridge to defrost.
No sooner do I take it out of the oven, when a whiffling pink and black spotted nose pokes itself round the door, then, after a brief pause, Isis materialises in the kitchen looking hopeful.
But I am resolute.
For at least four minutes.
As soon as I add a small portion of fish to Hairy One’s meal, she clears the dish, leaving not a kibble.
Oh dear, nothing gained here then, except that at least I know that she finds the kibbles acceptable.
Next morning I weigh out another 60 grams, wait until she sits, and then place my hand under her chin to command ‘eat’.
To my astonishment and delight, she clears the bowl. In the evening she does the same, and on Saturday morning.
Each sample has 90 grams in it. The only one she refuses to try is the salmon, which has a very strong smell. She eats the others, but it’s clear that the beef is her favourite.
On Sunday afternoon she is to go to Hollytrees (her default kennels) for a few days, so I had told Lee that we would return the following Saturday to report our results and select what to buy; however, since our experiment has been so successful, I decide that it is not a good idea for her to go back to her former diet during her stay at the kennels, and then to change back to the new diet when she returns home.
Isis arrives at Hollytrees accompanied by her special holiday bag, kindly given to her by Josh, years ago.
In it are her information, her vaccination records, her squeaky duck, an old polo shirt which I wore the night before, and eleven plastic jars each containing exactly 60 grams of Naturally (50 % beef, with sweet potato and carrot!)
She walks to her kennel without a backward glance.
I cross my fingers and hope she’ll eat all of her kibbles.
Isis came from Aeza cat and dog rescue in Aljezur, Portugal. For information about adopting an animal from the centre, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or go to http://www.dogwatch.co.uk.