This dog. I swear. Never has there been such a perfectly sweet, perfectly perfect dog who occasionally bites people and almost always tries to kill other dogs. There’s no denying that Tank is an uncanny mix of Mike and I, a middle-aged, naptastic, food-loving, grouchy cuddlebear who’d just as soon destroy you as share her toys.
When we first got her three months ago we went through a series of veterinary visits because something wasn’t quite right. I think the primary tip off was that she was pooing jelly¹. That might be a little too specific, and for that I am sorry. But not sorry enough to edit it. After two rounds of antibiotics, anti-diarrhea meds, canine intestinal flora and some other garbage, she was still having a tough time of it – so tough that I mouthed off to an intimidating stranger². In a rushed visit to the vet, we were offered the option of having a blood test to determine if Tank was allergic to certain foods, as all signs were pointing to yes. We agreed (and at less than $200, I figured we were getting off easy) and found out a week later that Tank was allergic to everything we were feeding her. ARGH!
The hilarious news was that we’d been feeding her fancy low-allergen food that bragged a lack of corn and soy and rice fillers, so of course she’s not allergic to corn, soy or rice at all. Within 12 hours she was on a pure lamb and rice diet and within 48 hours her entire digestive system changed. It was fantastic! All except one problem: even at a large alternative animal feed store, I could only find one brand of treats that didn’t have any of her main offenders: oats, wheat, potato or eggs. And that brand was charging $10 for a 6oz. box. Uh, no.
So what’s a girl to do? Bake her own damn dog treats, I guess.
Action shot! Also: you finally get to see my hunchback.
I found a gluten-free, vegan cheese cracker recipe for humans and since Tank isn’t allergic to cow’s milk (again: totally opposite dog) I replaced the soy cheddar with regular stuff. I tweaked and fudged until I had something that rolled out, and guess what? Totally delicious little treats, and totally safe for her. The only problem is that they are greasy from all the cheese and olive oil, so I can’t just slip them in my pocket like her old poison treats. Thus, the quest for the perfect treat continues. In the meantime, she’s staring at her cookie jar waiting for one of us to hand her another one of these.
Gluten-Free Cheddar Bites for Nerdy Dogs
of course these are totally tasty for humans too. in fact, as I baked them Mike stood in the kitchen and snacked on them. they taste like cheese nips and have a satisfyingly soft crunch. also note: there’s some argument as to whether dogs can eat garlic. they should never eat raw garlic (or onions), but everyone seems to agree that using small quantities of garlic powder is safe.
1 1/4 cups brown rice flour
1/2 cup corn starch
1/2 tsp. baking soda
6 T. olive oil
1/4 – 1/3 cups milk (I used rice)
4oz sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1/8th tsp. garlic powder
- Dump everything into a mixer or a food processor. If you use a stand mixer, it will need to run for at least 5 minutes to pound and mash the cheese down until you almost can’t see any pieces any more. In a food processor, this will take a few very long pulses. You’ll have to keep an eye on it. The goal is to get the dough to stick together but not be so wet that it’s hard to roll and cut out. Start with 1/4 cup of milk and add spoonfuls more until you reach this consistency. It will be tender and break apart easily in your hands, but will also wad easily into a ball. It’s hard to describe.
- Wrap the ball up in plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 10 minutes. Now would be a good time to preheat your oven to 350°.
- Sprinkle a work surface with a little rice flour. Roll out the dough, rubbing small quantities of the rice flour into the surface as you go just to ease the rolling pin over the surface. The dough is oily so it won’t really stick to stuff, but it’s also very tender and delicate, so when it does, it messes up rather spectacularly. Don’t worry too much abut any of this: it’s a dog treat. Just get it rolled out.
- Cut into appropriate size pieces. Don’t get cute with cookie cutters, you’ll tire yourself out. Transfer to baking sheet.
- Bake approximately 15 minutes, or until pieces are clearly browned and fragrant. Allow to cool slowly on their hot baking sheets in order to dry out a little more.
¹ Not magical delicious jelly, like strawberry rhubarb or sour cherry. She’s not a golden goose.
² Tank was having a terrible morning. Her intestines sounded like a water cooler burbling, I swear to Haysoos. It woke me up! I took her outside in a rush thinking that she was building up to some explosive decompression, but on a grassy street corner near our house she squatted and nothing came out. It was awful to watch, she was clearly in such discomfort that I sat on the curb and talked lovingly to her while she squatted and walked and squatted and walked. I checked the time: 25 minutes until the veterinary clinic opened. As I sat there a large, sketchy dude approached and said loudly and with great joviality, “HE TRYIN‘ TA SHIT!” I gave the dude a cursory nod and said sadly “Yeah, she’s sick.” The guy acted like he didn’t hear me and continued “HA! THAT DOG DON’T KNOW WHATTA DO! HE TRYIN’ TA SHIT!” More forcefully, I said “She’s sick.” He walked closer and maneuvered around so he could leer more clearly at her rear end, which alone infuriated me. Of course then he says “HE SOME STUPID DOG! DON’T KNOW WHATTA DO!” to which I unthinkingly snapped back “SHE’S SICK AND I DON’T NEED A FUCKING SPECTATOR WATCHING MY DOG SHIT.” Of course dude gets real creepy and says to me in a lower voice “You better watch your mouth, girl. Call me a motherfucking spectator. You watch your mouth, or I’ll watch it for you.” So basically: I picked up my dog and ran. True story!