Raw bones are an awesome addition to your dogs daily regimen; they are great for keeping teeth squeaky clean, removing tartar and all kinds of nasty shit that gets lodged in between them. They provide a hefty dollop of calcium in the diet, squillion of minerals and a wonderful jaw workout for a high energy dog who needs to give you some blessed down time. I am totally an advocate for raw bones and think in a perfect world all dogs should have access to them at least once a week for a good gnawing session.
So why don't I give them to my dogs?
Simple...I don't want a massacre in my house!
Dogs get very, very, very, very, possessive over a bone in a way that they dont about most other things.
You took my bed? Eyeroll and 'Meh'.
You stole my blankie? Bigger eyeroll, huff and 'Meh'.
You are even daring to look in my direction while I have this bone in my mouth? Imma cut a bitch!
A bone is something way bigger than a toy...... It's a food, a trophy, a feel good 'Okay I might not have killed this sucker but I COULD have!' kind of a deal.....
As mum to six incredible rescue dogs who all live together in our open plan home, even though I am a massive believer in the HUGE benefits of raw bones in any dogs diet, I have at least two dogs that I know would fight to the death over a bone.
Why not use crates and separate them when they each have a bone?
The dogs are big and the house is too small.
Why not put them in different rooms and shut the door? Each room is carpeted and I don't want raw dead animal flesh ground into my carpet. Carpet isn't a sanitary venue for bone mastication.
This, along with the fact that at the Ranch we have to be ready at a moments notice to run downstairs or up to the cabin and deal with anything that might come up. It might be one of the seniors at the cabin needing my attention or one of our guest dogs that won't come in for a staff member, or someone having a thorn stuck in their paw......so I can't just leave my six dogs upstairs in a pinch with their bones while I go deal with whatever needs my attention. If I did, I would come back to a bloodbath. It would actually be the same if we had toys strewn all over the house, so we don't have any of them laying around either.
If you've ever met my youngest, 25 pound beagle-corgi-God-knows-what mix, Steve Miller, you'd know he's an arrogant little shit who thinks easygoing 110 pound Hoss is his bitch.
(In fact, come to think of it, Steve Miller thinks EVERYONE is his bitch, and that he rules the roost. This actually is quite ridiculous because theres just one canine boss in our household and it's Noodle the chunky shit-eating schnauzer mix. Everyone knows it, and that's why we all snigger at Steve when he tries his little power games.)
Steve is very possessive over his 'shit'.......like pine cones and sticks that he brings in, or dead cockroaches that he carries in from the yard and rolls in.....and everyone respects that. Because they do, we have harmony in our house. Because we don't want to put anyone in the position of having to deal with Steve, or at times maybe Noodle or Freddie, behaving like assholes, we remove the cause of said asshole-ish behavior from the equation completely. No bones, no toys. Ever.
So...is that cruel? Is that sad?
While Pete and I are pretty good pack leaders in our household, and everyone thinks that means we rule with a rod of iron, that with one withering look we have dogs cowering at our feet- nothing is further from the truth. Our house is extremely relaxed, there are just a few rules and we are pretty easy going about most things.
Our dogs live freely all together, they are allowed absolute freedom of movement in our home; freedom of expression to tell the UPS guy to f*ck off (Steve and Noodle have a pretty salty vocabulary that they learned from me), or to warn us that someone is in the driveway which is a huge deal for us as an early warning system, to let us know that Levi needs to go out for a pee or that Noodle won't move out of the way ('Mum, she's doing it again! She's sitting right in the middle of the hallway and won't let me get past!') and this is exactly how we like to live our lives as a multi species family. There are certain rules that we enforce...no one is allowed to hog a couch or a lap and growl at another dog or they are made to get down immediately. No one is allowed to bother anyone else while they're eating. No one is allowed to be an asshole at the door. Everyone must wait patiently for treats.
That's about it, I think. Other than that, its dog heaven.
And it works well enough for us.
I hate, and I honestly mean it, I hate the fact that my dogs can't eat raw bones. I know it's good for them, that they would love it and the chalky white poops I'd get to pick up would be very satisfying for me.
I love shit like that...literally.
When we only had two dogs, Nelly and Simba used to have bones every week, neither one of them had to have regular dental clean ups, their teeth were pretty good and their gums were wonderful.
However, in order to save the six lives of Hoss, Noodle, Steve, Freddie, Levi and Ava- each one of them is a rescue who came to us with no other options, three were absolute last chance, two were at deaths door- we have had to compromise on what we know to be in many ways the perfect life which includes toys and bones......and instead make it THEIR best life.
We can only do what we can manage, after all, and bones are one thing we just can't manage. Our schedule and lifestyle doesn't afford us that luxury. So instead, we prioritized......
- We insist upon two good off leash runs a day and hours of sunshine.
- We insist upon freedom of movement throughout their home.
- We insist that their right to their own space is respected.
- We insist that they eat fantastic fresh cooked and raw food every day.
- We insist upon clean fresh water changed three times a day in clean bowls available everywhere.
- We insist that they get to sleep with us in the bed if they want, as it's precious bonding time.
- We insist that they spend as much time with us generally as humanly possible.
To the dog sitting in the shelter wishing for his forever home, this check list sounds like a bloody amazing life and I certainly can't see him saying 'Honestly running on 11 acres every day and all that other shit sounds wonderful but really? No raw bones? I think I'll take my chances and see if anything better comes along. I know it's a high kill shelter and I know I only have til midday, but I think I'll pass. Thanks though....'
I have to remind myself of this daily whenever I think of the couple of things my dogs can't have, that other dogs can. Every day, I do my reality check so I stop beating myself up about stuff I can't change, to stop me hankering for them.
It's enough that I drive a car, I don't have to have a Ferrari.
It's enough that I have clothes, I don't have to have a 600 foot walk in wardrobe full of Balenciaga or Valentino.
It's enough that I have a home, I don't need a sunken 10 foot marble bath tub with built in red wine glass holder.
Okay that last one was bullshit, I actually do need that.....
My message for today is for you to give yourself a break sometimes. Don't beat yourself up over the things you can't do for your beloved pets, instead, ask yourself are they getting exactly what they need..... Sunshine? Friends? A purpose? Comfort? Exercise? Freedom? Great nutrition? Pack leadership and security?
If the answer is yes to all of that, you are actually doing much better than 90 per cent of dog owners so cut yourself a break and go a bit easier on yourself.
Do what you can, do everything from a place of love and that will be enough, I promise.
Now go make yourself a good strong cup of British tea, exhale deeply, feet up and relax.....you're doing okay.