Tuesday, April 10, 2012

My Life With Pooches

I have two wonderful dogs, a 13 year old female Wire-haired Dachshund named Frankie and a 6 year old male Yellow Labrador named Cooper. Whoever came up with the phrase 'Man's Best Friend', may not have had the foresight to realize that women and canines could obviously be best friends, too...Duh!

Frankie is our adorable little souvenir we brought back from Germany (close to the Czech Republic border) when she was just three months old. The story behind how we got her and how she ended up here in Vancouver is a long and amusing one...

As a start, let's just say 'Hubs' had never bought into the idea of bringing a young puppy back to Canada, while schlepping copious amounts of luggage through several airports, toting two boys under the age of seven and all the while flying stand-by...

Little did he know that I had already paid a deposit to the breeder who was situated - according to Hubs - in 'former Czechoslovakia', a full 3 hour journey each way from our home base near Munich. Ok, so I did kind of pull the wool over him (already armed with a puppy kennel cleverly concealed in my luggage and conveniently filled with gifts for our hosts) - upon my departure from Vancouver two weeks prior.

I was lucky to get past customs when asked what I was bringing into the country...umm - just some maple syrup, smoked salmon and a dog kennel...


Once in Germany, the challenge for me had been to find a puppy old enough to have had all vaccinations necessary to enter Canada without going into quarantine...and not let anyone know about it...

Brimming with excitement, the search began almost as soon as our plane touched down in Munich.

You see, many moons prior to this trip, I was the proud owner of one handsome male Wire-haired Dachsy named Dusty when I was a young girl growing up in Germany in the 1970's. Five years after our return to Canada, Dusty was hit by a car and killed. The devastation that followed for me as a 15 year old is indescribable...at the time, before boys, he was the love of my life (also my dearest companion, since he was a gift from my parents when they separated when I was just 11).

From that day forward there was, in my mind, none other than a Dachshund.

I was determined to one day return to Germany and come back with an equally beloved, short-legged scruffy pooch, commonly known as a Wienerdog - but which Hubs liked to refer to as an overgrown guinea pig with fur...

What I haven't told you is that my travel companions - my mother and two young boys, not Hubs, as he was scheduled to arrive two weeks after us had already made a trip to the breeding kennel and picked out our little pooch. It was all we could muster to keep the details of the journey to 'Czechoslovakia' under wraps when we finally picked daddy up from the airport. With great credit to the boys - as I know they squirmed with excitement to share the news - the subject didn't come up until four days after Hubs' arrival...

...Just as he was getting over his jet lag and not quite as cranky- the news finally leaked.

I can still remember his eyes bulging as he turned his back to the boys and looked straight at me mouthing:

You bought...WHAT?

Don't get me wrong, Hubs is one of the most grounded people I know and his response was based more on his practical thinking than on his dislike for Weinerdogs...I have to admit I had the same annoying images in my head: the four (five including the dog) of us racing to the departure gates with only minutes to spare (an unfortunate non-perk of being an airline employee, getting a stand-by boarding pass at the 11th hour), not to mention the question of whether the dog would rest quietly in her kennel under the seat for a nine hour flight across the Atlantic...

But my rationale put those thoughts aside, and replaced them with cosy images of our new family member curled up in bed with the boys back at home.

Hubs was more concerned with how we would not only keep the boys entertained on the flight when they weren't sleeping, but how we would divert the attention from our seat row with a whining dog in a cramped kennel. I already had plans to keep Hubs well sedated with rye and gingerales, the boys occupied with brand new travel games and an extra blanket to wrap around the pup when I would sneak her out of her kennel for a snuggle.

In the end I persevered (well I did at one point turn in desperation to begging) and the day before our departure for Canada the four of us drove our compact rental car to 'Czechoslovakia' to pick up Frankie, who was ready for her new adventure infested with fleas and throwing up straw.

I know...

You can probably imagine how pleased Hubs was to receive this runt of the pack looking like she was a victim of the mange and sitting down every few moments to scratch...

I just held my breath. Hubs bit his tongue. The boys squealed with delight.


A quick visit to the vet for last minute shots and a routine check-up revealed a genetic flaw in our new pup - it seemed her bite was off and according to the vet she would need either braces or corrective surgery to properly feed herself...

Ok if the darts that came from Hubs' direction had been real, I most certainly would have been lying bleeding on the floor of the veterinary clinic.

With a half smile I gazed at him and chimed:

"For better or for worse honey...?" 


There are moments when I consider myself extremely lucky to be married to Hubs and this was definitely one of those moments. Braces for a dog? We knew all too well that both our boys would at some point require orthodontic appliances and there was no way we could afford to treat three family members, especially the one with fur and four legs...

Check back with me later for the next instalment of My Life With Pooches...

In the meantime check out this easy recipe for healthy doggy biscuits I made today. They are made with gluten-free buckwheat flour and I love the addition of garlic as an antioxidant, rosemary as a natural preservative and parsley as a breath freshener; the egg and olive oil condition the skin and the chicken stock and cheese add to the yummy flavour!

Garlic And Cheese Doggy Snacks

1 1/2 cups buckwheat flour
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp dried rosemary leaves, crumbled
1 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 cup low fat cheese
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup low sodium chicken stock

Blend dry ingredients including cheese. Add moist ingredients and mix well, first with a spatula and then by hand. When dough is well blended, divide in half and roll each half out to 1/4" thickness. Use doggy bone or heart shaped cutters in various sized depending on the size of your dog.

Bake at 300F for 30 minutes for small biscuits, 40 minutes for large biscuits; they should be firm to the touch and golden brown. Yield depends on size of cookie cutters. Approximately 36 small and 22 medium biscuits.

Bon Barketit!

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