Two Saturdays ago was one of the hottest on record. It was 108 degrees in the shade and the air felt thick with humidity. Greg and I had no plans for the day and found ourselves frustrated with the lack of options. It was far too hot to do anything outside. Even swimming was out of the question. We’ve been to all the museums and galleries in Dallas, and frankly didn’t feel like doing any of them. The mall was out of the question as everyone seems to flock there on days like this. Even just going for a drive seemed unbearable. The lack of AC in our old truck had a lot to do with that sentiment. After much frustration we both decided to take a drive to the SPCA and look at animals. It’s fun to play with the dogs and cats, and it’s a lot cheaper than the zoo! (Or so we thought).
Walking through the entrance we were greeted by a wave of cold, air conditioned air and the sound of Sarah McLachlan playing quietly through the overhead speakers. That’s when I remembered the last time we visited the SPCA. I left balling my eyes out from the thought of all those poor homeless animals and the song “I will remember you” playing in my head for days. As we strolled the halls we looked into each glass window. Sometimes we were greeted by a smiling face and others a growling and howling mess.
As we turned the corner, a little face poked up from one of the glass windows. A small, fox like dog named Dexter just smiled at me. I went up to the window and he just sat there smiling. One of the workers at the SPCA noticed me looking through the window and asked if I wanted to go in and meet Dexter. I obliged. Greg and I entered the room and Dexter sat there patiently. He was shy and very quiet, but I immediately felt a bond.
The woman told us that Dexter was three years old, although he spent two of those years on the street. He was adopted as a puppy but the family lost him and two years later the SPCA found him roaming the streets of Oak Cliff. He had a chip in his ear so they were able to find his family, however they had already moved on. Dexter then spent a week in the shelter when a second family adopted him. Unfortunately a week later they returned him as they could not handle Dexter’s crate anxiety. This poor little pup had experienced so much abandonment in his short life.
While the woman told us Dexter’s story he had fallen asleep, curled up by my legs. The woman told us he was house broken and was great on a leash. I looked over at Greg and I could tell he too had fallen in love with Dexter. They allowed us to take him for a walk, and it completely made his day, and ours. When we brought him back Greg turned to me and said ” I think we can do this”, and I replied, “I think so too”. Twenty minutes later we were signing the adoption papers and leaving the SPCA with a dog!
Dexter adjusted quickly to his new home and even befriended our feisty cat! The first few days he was very shy and nervous. If we encountered another dog on his walk, he would scour and hide behind my legs. He also didn’t seem very hungry, despite being almost three pounds underweight. We tried countless varieties of food and treats, but nothing peaked his interest. I decided to take it into my own hands and began doing research on foods that dogs can and can’t eat. After reading countless articles online, asking numerous questions to our vet and researching the ingredients on the back of dog food bags, I took to the kitchen.
While I mixed, pureed and chopped, Dexter sat in the kitchen curiously watching every move. I saw his eyes light up when I removed the bacon from the hot pan and placed it in the food processor. When the buzzer went off, I took the dog treats out of the oven and set them on a rack to cool. All the while I could see Dexter become more and more curious. Once they were cool, it was judgement time. I broke off a small piece and set it on the ground next to him. Without hesitation he gobbled it up and looked at me for more. A complete success! I found something he would eat!
We’ve been trying hard to socialize him by bringing him to the dog park, friends houses, farmer’s markets and even patios for drinks. I can now say that his personally has come out and he’s quickly becoming less shy and nervous. I’ll bring my homemade dog treats with me on errands and give him one when he sits, lays down or even just approaches a stranger. When we went to the dog park last week, I brought some treats. That was not a good move because all he wanted to do was eat treats and all the other dogs wanted some too! I left with a few bruises and scratches from that experience! I guess that’s how I know they’re good!
So my life has become a little more hectic with a full time job, a new dog, and with Greg recovering from shoulder surgery (that’s another story), but in the end I’m the happiest I’ve ever been. I know that Greg and I will be able to give Dexter the happy home he deserves and that he’ll never be abandoned again. When I look into his big innocent brown eyes, I can tell that he knows his new humans are here to stay.
But if there is one lesson I have learned, it’s that visiting the SPCA is not cheaper than going to the zoo!
Apple Bacon Dog Treats
Yield 18-20 treats
- 1/3 cup rolled oats
- 2/3 cup oat flour
- 1/3 cup wheat germ
- 2/3 cup whole wheat flour
- ¼ cup ground pumpkin seeds
- 1 tbsp. ground flax seeds
- 2 cups carrots, roughly chopped
- 1 apple, cored and sliced
- ½ cup natural peanut butter
- 2 chicken bouillon cubes
- 1 tbsp. honey
- 1 egg
- 3-4 pieces of cooked bacon, crumbled
- 1 tbsp. bacon grease (optional)
- 1/4 cup cream cheese (optional)
- 1 tbsp. chocolate free sprinkles (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk together rolled oats, oat flour, wheat germ, whole wheat flour, ground pumpkin seeds, and ground flax seeds.
- Add carrots and apples to the bowl of a food processor and pulse until smooth. Add peanut butter, bouillon cubes, honey, egg, bacon, and bacon grease (if using) and pulse until well combined. With the food processor running, slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients until a thick dough forms.
- Chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.
- Roll the dough between two sheets of plastic wrap until it is about ¼ inch thick. Press a dog bone shaped cookie cutter into the dough and transfer each cookie to the prepared cookie sheets. I also made some smaller treats for training using a small circular cookie cutter.
- Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes until golden in color. Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool.
- Once cool you can optionally ice the treats with cream cheese and sprinkle the tops with chocolate free sprinkles. (Great for special occasions)
- Serve at room temperature.
Note: stored in a sealed container or cookie jar the treats will last about one week. The cookies can also be frozen for future use.
Dexter says “Save a life, support your local SPCA!”