So to cut along story short, we have a big mob of dogs right now (4), which soon will be three- the ones photographed below. We share the love with our neighbours who are dog free!
It’s pretty popular to have a dog in Darwin, in fact there seems to be an overload sometimes, ones that run along the high suburban and rural fences and bark at you on your bike or when walking in an annoying way; or heaps of pig dogs riding in cages in the back of utes that you might think twice about cuddling in bed with.
For many years I have enjoyed the company of dogs, but not really wanted our own dog. I have always pondered how much meat a dog eats, something I think we don’t really need to eat too much of, and the extra food demand such a furry friend brings. I have heard statistics that having a dog consumes more energy (to produce its food) than having a car- depending of course where you are driving! I suppose we don’t have any kids, ok so I am trying to justify it, we have ended up with not one dog, but heaps!
We were lucky enough for a few years to enjoy the company of our friends dog “ Mushu”. We became her second family, and when her first family was away in the school holidays she would be with us. Sharing a dog is a petty good idea, relationships are strengthened between humans through non- humans and of course there is less meat eaten, walking is shared and the canine love. Mushu ran to us when thunder was around and jumped fences to cross a suburb, knowing we would be softies and let her in to sleep by our bed. We (all her friends and families) could write a book about her and her escapades, but lets just say she was a very special dog, and she even seemed she had a higher spirit or inner knowledge than a dog, and we loved her a lot. It’s a story of ups and owns with her health, but she died in the night with her best friend, Bindi at her side. We were all devastated and buried her in her dragon costume in her garden, her legs in the air, nearly sticking up above the earth. We imagine her running as fast as lighting along the beach as she loved, and every time the thunder rumbles I think of her.
Even after Mushu past on to a freer world I did not want a dog, but my partner and Hannah, our house mate were super keen to get a ‘house dog’. In this same time frame, as if by some law of attraction, a pretty tan dog ran across Trower road following a bunch of us trying to cross the road to get a bus. She nearly got run over, Jon saved her and the rest is kind of history, it turned out she was a lost dog, our neighbours were looking after, but they did not want to keep her, even though they love her. Her previous life was never discovered and now she lives with us, only being a bit crazy occasionally with 3 of her 7 (accidental) puppies that were born on our swag under the house on Divali (the darkest night of the year)
One, is our house mate’s Ben, soon to be moving on, one, Divali (named after his birthday), is ours and the other ‘Rolo’ turned out to be sick and have problems walking and growing and is in our care and too cute to let go. The other 4 have gone to wonderful homes of friends not too far away. IN our only defense, we don’t have any kids and we pour our love into these wee creatures.
So that is a very long story pretty much to come to the biggest Dilemma all these dogs gave me- what to feed them? We experimented with bought dog food, kangaroo mince, dry biccies- but what about keeping it local, packaging free, more sustainable- organic even?
After some time we have come up with a pretty awesome, quite changeable, but healthy option with a big pinch of local and sustainable. We found a supplier of dog meat, this is buffalo or wallaby, shot out in the bush and it has to be dog meat because of licensing and lack of abattoirs (hence out lack of local meat and live export trade!). Buffalo, being a feral animal is a great meat, lowering the numbers of a creature that can cause a lot of damage, change landscapes and compete with native animals! I believe Terry who runs it works culling the animals for PArks and other organisations and has for many years. It also tastes pretty great too. I have had it on country cooked in a ground oven of eucalyptus leaves and that is pretty great!
This buffalo meat is from Howard Springs Pet meat (08 89831223), which is on a block on Mahaffey road, off Girraween Road- open most afternoons and is sourced from people shooting wild buffalo. I sometimes work out this way, so will get it on the way past- if you live in town you can always split the trip and buys for friends also feeding it too their dog, to save on fuel. It comes in 12kg boxes for $45, so pretty comparable or cheaper than supermarket dog meats or tins. Now I can’t say I know heaps about dog nutrition, but I have done a bit of research and read lots of dog food packets/ tins. Most mainstream tinned dog foods do have veggies in and dogs are eaters of non-meats in the wild too. I have read greens are great for them, but do think they need to eat a combo with quite a lot of lean meat. Some people feed dogs their leftovers, which is great especially if you eat a lot of meat and rice, but we don’t and we don’t have too many left overs and quite a few dogs!
So when we get the buffalo mince home we mix about 1-2kg of it with about ½ as much cooked brown rice, old cooked or grated veggies and some whizzed up garden greens including herbs. We then add some turmeric- which is great for digestion and immunity, garlic, which is great for immunity and maybe some other grains like oats or flax meal, also good for digestion and mix in a couple or more of eggs from our chooks, which are rich in protein and good for their coats and a glug of olive oil! It actually smells so dam good that I would like to eat it too- but it contains a bit too much raw meat!
We serve this to them on a few dry dog food biccies (which we probably don’t need to include, as these are quite processed but we are in ‘transition!). They absolutely love it. Just check out these lovely photos. Admittedly the puppies will eat most things right now, including phone cables, cushions, books and furniture, but muma dog loves it too!
These photos above show 2 versions, one is with white rice, which I used as it had got ants in, and one with brown rice, which is better for digestion and nutrition in general.
A lot of people buy specific dog toys, but as they seem to chew anything, we find them old stuff to chew or from op shops. Coconut fibre, from coconuts is really good for their teeth and they love chewing out the white coconut part too- which I am sure is really good for them and we always have a few spare fallen coconuts.
So apologies if this is all a bit doggie if you aren’t keen on dogs, but if you are it gives you some alternative dog food ideas!