HAVE YOU GOT THE STOMACH FOR A REAL DOG’S DINNER?

Sleeping it off. After a delicious pig's trotter, the plastic bone somehow loses its savour . . . .

“WHAT’s Maud eating?” asks the dog trainer, as we hear an ominous squeak from the utility room. “It’s a chocolate-flavoured rubber bone from Tesco,” I reply, without – as they say – a hint of irony. Fran from Bark Busters doesn’t bat an eyelid but calmly  continues filling in the forms. “Doesn’t that tell you something?” she asks.

For years we’ve fed Maud and Harry on what we’ve believed to be a complete and wholesome food: James Wellbeloved’s dried ‘kibbles’ of various flavours. Hypo-allergenic, no unnatural ingredients, a complete balanced diet. And so it is, says Fran. “It has all the nutrients they need, but none of the satisfaction. They need to chew.”

And so, in just four words in the first five minutes of a three-hour visit, she accurately sums up much of what’s been wrong with our borders. Agitated, demanding, hyper-active, and seemingly never satisfied: still chewing grass when they go for walks, eating long-dead rabbits and even catching unsuspecting hedgehogs for a bloody feast. How often have I asked Ian: “If that dog food contains all the nutrients they need, why do they still eat all this stuff when they’re out?”

Well, now we have the answer: and it’s been staring us in the face for the past six years. Amazing. Fran leaves us a diet sheet and a website to visit:  http://www.rawmeatybones.com

And so it is that instead of the two minute crunch of the processed kibble, tonight we had the contented 90-minute (truly) feast of the pig’s trotters. And two very happy dogs. There’s a load more in the fridge: the most unlikely being the six chicken carcasses and a kilo of chicken wings. They love it.

We were horrified at the mention of chicken bones – aren’t they potentially fatal to dogs? Not, apparently, as long as they’re raw. And that goes for all the other off-cuts and remnants that Nigel the butcher brings to last us the week: beef knuckle bones, pigs’ ears, ox tails and other unmentionable inedibles (to us, at least).

Bark Busters http://www.barkbusters.com guarantees success in the most difficult cases as long as you follow the programme (I know it sounds like I’m getting payback, but I’m not: just very impressed). It’s expensive but worth every penny: and we reckon it will pay for itself many times over in the vastly reduced monthly dog food bill. Of course the feeding is just a side issue to the behaviour training programme that Fran devises for the dogs, which is what she’s really here for, but it assumes major importance for us.

It’s not often we experience an overnight conversion, but that’s what it feels like. And let’s face it – unlike the purveyors of processed, proprietary brand dog foods, the proponents of the raw meaty bones diet (a separate entity entirely from Bark Busters) have nothing to sell except a book. But we don’t even need that. Just a bag of bones. Oh yes; and some raw fresh vegetables and a few tables scraps, liquidised and frozen in small portions to supplement the meat – and to replicate what they’d find in a rabbit’s, or other herbivore’s, belly and intestines. It couldn’t be simpler: you just need the stomach for it.

One happy Harry

It's all too much for Maud

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