Thursday, November 19, 2015

What to Expect at a Cat Cafe (or Shelter Cat Room) When You're a DOG Person #BetterWithPets

Dog people, stay with me; this is for YOU!
Cat people, you stay too. Segregation and exclusion is just plain wrong! Plus I want your input!

kitten on haunches looking at someone holding a toy in the distance
Not a meerkat, a mere cat. ☺

So last time we were together, I gave you an overview of the Purina® Better With Pets Summit that I attended earlier this month in Brooklyn, NY. As a quick recap: After having been invited by Nestle Purina to attend, and some excessive celebration, I traveled to NYC to attend the day-long summit on November 3. At the summit I listened to/interacted with a whole bunch of brilliant, highly educated pet people tell interesting stories about how their research, experiences and innovative ideas are improving the emotional wellness of not only our pets, but all of us who love them.

I also divulged how I once ate some of my cat's Purina Cat Chow® and that the dogs and cats might not have been the only cute things at the Brooklyn Expo Center.☺

lady and man posing with two kittens, brown tabby and siamese
Me and the co-proprietor of Cybercat Exotics, a NJ-based cat rescue and talent agency.
I forgot to ask the cats for their names. 

And - which brings me to the subject of today's post - I spent 30 minutes inside a room decorated for and full of incredibly social and loving, free roaming cats*.

Dear Dog People: Let's talk about cats for a bit.

But first, let me offer you an analogy: A cat is to a dog as a manual (stick shift) transmission is to a fully automatic. Both cats and dogs are pets, and both types of transmissions come with cars. But - as a person with experience driving both - tell me, who in the heck can just go out and drive a stick shift without learning and practicing a few times? NO ONE! Well, I will argue the same goes for cats!

What I'm saying is, CATS ARE STICK SHIFTS AND DOGS ARE AUTOMATIC. There's a learning curve with both, but cats require just a little more "coordination." A little more practice. And I promise, once you get them, you always will! And they are SO MUCH FUN to drive be around!

Panel 1: An Evolving Relationship With Cats?
L-R: moderator, professor Western Carolina University, Hal Herzog, Ph.D.; Nestle Purina behaviorist, Sandra Lyn, Ph.D.; co-founder Meow Parlour (NYC's 1st cat cafe), Christina Ha; co-owner Feline Minds, Mikel Maria Delgado, Ph.D. candidate, CCBC

A Little Background From the Summit

During the first of the three expert panel discussions, entitled An Evolving Relationship With Cats?, the focus was on the changing nature of our relationship with cats and what that might mean for a new generation of pet owners. What struck me the most during the discussion, and even more so after speaking one-on-one with panelist Christina Ha, co-founder of Meow Parlour, NY's first cat cafe, and spending quality time in the interactive cat room, was that cat cafes and shelter cat rooms are completely underutilized.

By dog people.

But we can do something about that, right?

Who's ready to go with me to a cat cafe?

What do you mean you're not sure? You already see cats all day on social media and you can do that at the office?

Oh wait, no! Silly me; you've got the wrong idea!

Kitty ain't got time for social media. Also? Those are cat people. Pressing the kitty "clutch" and shooting pics at the same time.

A cat cafe is a place where people go to chill out, with other people and REAL LIVE (not two-dimensional social media) cats!

It's true! Imagine your local coffee shop, except without the serving counter (health regulations in the U.S. prohibit the preparation and selling of food and beverages on site with animals; however, one can purchase these items nearby and bring them into the cat cafe to consume), decorated with kitty-friendly furnishings and toys and most tellingly: occupied by plenty of free-roaming (probably adult**) cats!

Where do the cats in the cat cafe come from? Do I bring my own?

First of all, NO, you do not bring your own! Second of all, at least at the Meow Parlour in NY, according to Ha, the cats come from a local cat rescue in partnership with the cafe. According to research (discussed on the panel), cats are most happy being with other cats, especially when they are in a stressful (e.g., shelter) environment, where they have little control. In fact, more timid shelter cats - who've previously been overlooked by potential adopters - after being placed in free-roaming group settings (like a cat cafe***), will gradually gain confidence, come out of their shells around people, and find their forever homes in no time!

And you know what else? When one (say you or I) is at ease in the cat cafe environment? All those kitties are like the best natural chill pill after a long day that a person could possibly imagine!

Syxx is chillin' not illin'.

A Dog Person's Guide to Experiencing a Cat Cafe
(or dedicated room full of free-roaming cats, like for example, at your local animal shelter)

OK, so here we are, at the front door (probably glass, so you can see through it). Let's go in!

These are cat people. Do not try this without certification. Also, put the phone down. There's plenty of time for that later. 

IMPORTANT! Before you do anything, stop and take it all in! Don't just go rushing over to the first cat you see.


A vertical kitty wonderland...just think how much floor space they saved!

Kitty in the sky with cat grass.

Did you notice the cat on the wall shelf? Good! It's OK, that's what the shelves are there for. Cats - as natural climbers - feel safe when they're ABOVE most everything else. But they always come down, eventually. And, don't worry, it won't be on top of your unsuspecting head.

So, scope out a comfy couch or chair or beanbag, and settle in!

Obviously, this picture was taken before the cats arrived. 

Now, you will undoubtedly notice that cats are NOTHING LIKE DOGS, for instance:

<> No one is going to rush you for your danish or other portable snack food (if you brought any in). Cats  - being carnivores - do not care for these items. You will, in fact, be able to eat in peace.

<> No one is going to rush you at all, for any reason. Remember, cats DO enjoy human companionship, but they can take a while getting around to it. (Unless you're dealing with a SUPER friendly kitty who wants to jump in your lap as soon as your butt hits the cushion. This is also normal. All cats are different. Do not be alarmed if a friendly kitty plops in your lap.)

jon farleigh, dewi (corgi dogs) and bobby flay o'fish (ginger cat) lying on a circle in corner of kitchen
Jon Farleigh and Dewi tried to be like Bobby Flay O'Fish for 10 minutes. It was the worst 10 minutes - other than when the neuter drugs wore off - ever.

So it's been five looong minutes, but zero kitties are within petting distance yet?

Relax (like literally, sink into that couch and take a load off)! It'll happen!

The mouse is spiked. 


Cats sometimes squint when they're looking at people. This does not mean they have a speck of dust lodged in their eye. Or that they are giving you the stink-eye, are disinterested, or sizing you up for a meal. It actually means that the cat LIKES YOU. Squinty eye contact means kitty is relaxed and views you as non-threatening. (Big, wide eyes would be a problem, in comparison.) Feel free to go ahead and pet squinty-eyed kitty (if she's not already in your lap or rubbing all over you). And no worries, you don't need to squint back. Normal people eyes are OK (just don't hold contact any longer than you'd want a stranger to do to you)!

15 minutes later...

Excuse me, Elizabeth, but I was just sitting here petting one kitty and now there are FOUR KITTIES surrounding me on the couch!

Oh yay! That's because they ALL want to be your friend! ☺ Don't worry about trying to pet all of them, though, cats are content just hanging out nearby. You decide whether you want to visit with each kitty or not.

Oh, and that drop in blood pressure you might be experiencing? Do you hear the purring? Did you know scientific studies have shown that the decibel range of a domestic cat's purr can improve human health, including lowering blood pressure, stress, and even healing of bone and muscle injuries? It can! Shoot, it might even put you straight to sleep...

Hey, wake up, you! No dozing 'til the end!

So, you've been here a while. Had a snack and some coffee. Hung out with a few happy cats...

Think you could get used to it? Maybe get on the floor and toss some toys around next time? Or even pick up a willing kitty and hold it a little (some cats love to be held, and others not; you just have to try them and see)?

You know? If you like it here that much, you could always adopt your favorite and take her/him home! Or even better - take TWO home!

Great job today, y'all! Let's do this again!

Check y'all later. 

There are so many things I learned from the summit that I've not covered. For more information, including expert bios, go here.

* Most (if not all) of the cats in the kitty room belonged to NJ-based rescue, Cybercat Exotics.

** Adult cats are favored over kittens because the older cats - who might otherwise be looked over for adoption - are simply most in need of confidence-building and human socialization. Plus kittens fall asleep at the flit of a fly. And well, who wants to wake a sleeping kitten?

Bobby Flay ginger kitten asleep sitting up on a red throw on top of a blue chair

*** Some animal shelters, such as my local Richmond SPCA, have free-roaming cat rooms with open visitation for potential adopters. Not only does it help make matches for the homeless animals, but it's wonderful for their socialization and reducing people stress. I should know!

† Also possibly by men and older-than-millennials, but that's a topic for another day. 

Cat behavior facts discussed at the summit are in blue

Photo credit Purina (unless the photo is grainy, in which case, it's mine). 

For the latest updates, follow Purina on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

So tell me, who'd be up for visiting a cat cafe in real life? Has anyone ever been to one? How about a free-roaming kitty room at a local animal shelter? If yes, how did it make you feel?

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Including the Time I Ate Purina Cat Chow, My Life Has Always Been #BetterWithPets (2015 Summit)

No one ever told Thomas cats don't like snow.
It would be the beginnings of a years-long mutually beneficial relationship.

It's one of those early childhood recollections that, somehow, instead of getting catalogued for the long-term, is destined for display on an endcap in the library of one's memory.

I was between five and six years old, sitting on the vinyl floor of the modest square kitchen at the front of my family's townhouse, directly left of the front door. Besides my Siamese cat Thomas, who was shamelessly circling my person, purring and plowing every square inch of his slick, chocolate and tan coat into my back and arms, I was alone in the room. I had decided to join Thomas at his food dish for a mid-morning (or -afternoon, that detail is missing. Still, I know it was an off time, since at standard mealtimes, I would've never been in the kitchen unsupervised) snack.

Thomas. Cat, playmate, guardian, Jr. High tear catcher, snack sharer.

I'm not exactly sure how long I was sitting there - most likely remarking to Thomas about the green gingham pattern on my polyester, bell-bottom pants, for example, or how I was gonna go roller skating in the parking lot (outside my front door) later, and would he like to watch me from the patch of grass that was our front yard - before I got the urge. 

The dish was sitting in the same place it always was, pushed up to the baseboard and out of the way of foot traffic. And as always, it had a little bit of kibble in it - Purina® Cat Chow®, to be precise. It was the only food we ever fed our cats. Except back in the day - when I was a kid - the pieces were shaped like little x's, not the mini-hockey pucks they are today+. Thomas didn't seem to be all that hungry, since he was opting to deposit his invisible scent and loose fur all over me, rather than partake of the brownish-red colored bounty before him.

And so I thought (with my innocent, five and a half-year-old mind) this is my chance: if Thomas thinks the stuff is all that - and why wouldn't he? It looks like a bowl of natural-colored Apple Jacks®*, except, unlike Apple Jacks, has a savory, almost snack food-like aroma - then, by golly, why shouldn't I?

Elizabeth. 5.5-year-old Cat Chow connoisseur. 

So, I took a quick look behind me and both ways down the hallway, just to be sure there'd be no human witnesses, and I did it: reached in Thomas' bowl, snatched a Kindergartner-sized fistful of Cat Chow and, without a moment's hesitation, crammed the whole pointy lot into my mouth.

Interestingly, my recollection after this point is less vivid - except for the undeniable memory of unexpected tang (not as bad as a black jellybean surprise, but no where near as good as the bacon bits I thought it was gonna be), as I attempted to chew. I'm not even sure if I actually did chew it up...or swallow it...or run to the trash can and spit it all out. None of that really makes a difference to the story, truthfully.

What does matter to this story, and to every other kid's story - when they have the responsibility of helping to care for a pet - is this:


I never ate cat food (and only once did I try a piece of Jon Farleigh's birthday cake, that I bought at the local doggy treat bakery) again.

Christmas Day 1975. Banana seat, bell bottoms, big plans. 

* It occurs to me now that Apple Jacks are, in fact, shaped like circles, and not jacks at all. Which begs the question, WHY? I mean, who the fritter is Jack, and why is he made of apple? Never mind. ☺

Fast forward 40 years...

program for 2015 Purina Better With Pets next to blue merle corgi looking up
Dewi. #BetterAtHomeWithCorgis ♥

Purina is still impacting my life - and the lives of countless others, people and pets included. And it's not just about food.

Earlier this week I had the honor and privilege (OK, let's get real: the Nestle Purina people awarded me an all-expenses paid trip to NYC to talk cats and dogs, and I ran around the room squealing like an Adam Levine groupie!) of attending their third annual Purina Better With Pets Summit in Brooklyn, NY.

The summit serves to - straight from the inside cover of my program, according to Purina - "...bring together the brightest minds in pet science and culture, to share how big, innovative ideas are improving the emotional wellness of pets and the people who love them."

wide angle of Better With Pets block letter sculptures in front of dog agility ring

And, I was in esteemed company: not only some of the best pet writers and bloggers I know (including some who are role models for me), but journalists, editors, business owners, marketing gurus, columnists, YouTubers, publishers, scientists, engineers, veterinarians, animal behaviorists, and shoot, even an Emmy and Peabody Award-winning ABC News documentary producer, who happens to also star in Bravo's Real Housewives of New York!

Carole Radziwill sitting in chair and speaking on Purina Better With Pets stage
Carole Radziwill. Award-winning news documentary producer, lifelong animal lover, Real Housewife of New York.

Y'all, can I have a moment? When I was a girl, I wanted to be flipping ALL of these people when I grew up! (OK, maybe I didn't want to be a reality TV star, but still!)

To be sure, Purina put together a well-versed group of thought leaders, covering a wide-range of emotional wellness topics, from dogs bringing together rural communities on the brink, to cat cafes and their potential impact on millennials, to revolutionary advancements in shelter enclosures, to the specific rewards of dog ownership for children who are autistic or survivors of abuse. 

The main gist?

With the millions upon millions of pets already in the world, can you imagine the potential positive effects on society? Can you believe we've gone several lifetimes and are just now catching on?

It's hard for me to believe, too, but I'm sure you'll join me in being thankful there are some really smart pet people in the world who are doing something the frick about it!

Poster display of expert Alexandra Johnson and bio at Purina Better With Pets summit
Alexandra Johnson. Really smart person, designer responsible for new and upcoming Purina interactive feeding toys, listened to me go on and on about the Cardigan Welsh Corgi rapper in the Beggin'® Party Poppers™ commercial

So, tell us more about what you learned at that summit, Elizabeth.

There was so much! But OK, how about these highlights**:

Purina employs an Alaska-based, Cornell-educated senior research scientist and veterinarian, Dr. Arleigh Reynolds, who - while also training for prestigious races - evaluates the impacts of nutrition on performance in his 30 working sled dogs.

Additionally - while doing all of these things - he has been instrumental in re-introducing working dogs (which have traditionally been an integral part of small Alaskan community culture and livelihood, but with modern technology, were less and less needed) into communities that were/are in decline. With his leadership and expertise, he has helped spread a movement -
The Frank Alta Youth Program - which uses Alaskan sled dogs to benefit at-risk students all over rural Alaska. 

Dr. Arleigh Reynolds. Veterinarian, Purina Sr. research nutritionist, sled dog raiser, philanthropist, also, GO WATCH THIS! (photo copyright© Purina, used with permission)

Another moment please, y'all. You know that show called Northern Exposure from the 90s? Where the Ivy League doctor had to go to rural AK and practice medicine to pay off his loan? Yeah, well, imagine Dr. Arleigh Reynolds like that. Except in this version of the show, John Corbett is the doctor, but not for people, for animals. Oh, and imagine John Corbett looked a little like Paul Newman, who looks a little more like Dr. Reynolds than John Corbett. {insert intentional pause} Look, someone had to say it, because I KNOW everybody in that summit room was thinking it! And boy, do I hope Dr. (Arleigh, which is like my corgi J. Farleigh without an F, interestingly) Reynolds - and my husband - don't read this!

 Anthrozoology is a relatively new discipline of study that looks at the relationship between humans and other animals, including the positive effects of animals in society.

 1 in 3 people in the U.S. has a pet cat.

 Millenials' relationships with cats tend to be hyper-social, meaning relationship expectations are being formed as a result of seeing cats in social media. This can lead to unrealistic expectations of cats. 

 Studies have shown that people who have cats as pets are becoming less likely to identify as being introverted.

Elizabeth Keene holding young siamese cat in front of her face on sofa in Cat Experience Room of Purina Better With pets Summit 2015
Me. Introvert with extroverted tendencies. 

 When cats are stressed, the chemical imbalance in their brains is directly linked to the disease that causes feline lower urinary tract disease. When the stressor(s) is removed from the cat's environment, the disease will resolve over time. 

 Dogs and cats prefer pastel colors (vs. bold) in their living quarters.

 Dogs and cats benefit from positive stressors, including working for food through interactive puzzles and games. In field trials, dogs have shown preference for a food puzzle over eating a meal that is simply placed before them.

• Music can be calming for shelter pets. 

• Dog companionship is proven to level the playing field and empower children (and adults) who have trouble communicating, and/or are dealing with difficult situations, including in juvenile and domestic justice systems. 

Black lab in service vest lying on mat in front of cot at Purina Better With Pets 2015
Black lab service dog. Rocker of worlds. 

I could go on! What a day!

Stay tuned to the blog, though, because there's Part Two! Except next time, I'll expand a bit on the most intriguing (to me) part of the summit: Cat Cafes!

Wondering (like I was) what the heck a Cat Cafe is? And why the heck they might make my heart beat a little bit faster? You'll see! And, oh yeah, I'm writing it specifically for DOG PEOPLE! (Though, I hope cat people will read  - and maybe chime in - too!)

See you back here soon, pet friends!

group of bloggers, including Elizabeth Keene at Chronicles of Cardigan, on stage at Purina Better With Pets Summit 2015
Me (far right, standing on tip-toes) and a few fellow pet bloggers. Connected online, bonded for life off.
#BetterWithPetsAndFriends ☺

Tip: If you ever want to see a real-life Sesame Street-looking neighborhood, go to the Brooklyn Expo Center. My Oscar the Grouch PJ's and I would totally fit in there!

+ Turns out, Purina Cat Chow kibble is now - as I saw in the grocery store last night - shaped like little crescent moons, Y's and circles.

‡ Better With Pets distinguished panelist and veterinary professor, Dr. Tony Buffington, is the scientist responsible for discovering this link.

** If you'd like a more detailed, journalistic report of the agenda and speakers, I recommend you go here (Conscious Cat) or here (Fido Friendly). Author and pet expert Amy Shojai has a great video play-by-play here. You can learn more about Purina's Better With Pets mission and experts here.

For the latest updates, follow Purina on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Watch My #TrickorTreatDogs Smooch Me on Command and You Could Win Up to $1000 in Prizes!

Y'all! Jon Farleigh has a trick for you! And you know what else? We're giving away some dog crack (aka Jones Natural Chews Lamb Lung Puffs, provided by the company), because DOGS LOVE CRACK! Oh, and THIS!

dog cartoon graphic of Trick or Treat Giveaway blog hop

Because of our friends at Kol's Notes and Beagles & Bargains - hosting this first-ever Trick or Treat Giveaway Hop-of-its-kind - we get to not only direct you to nine other awesome blogs and trick-performing dogs, but nine other treat giveaways AND, each time you enter one of THOSE, you'll be entered into the drawing for one of three magnificent GRAND prizes! All total, worth over $1000! (Details to follow.) But first...

Who wants to see how I taught Jon Farleigh to "give a kiss" on command?!

Everyone?! OK, yay!

Jon Farleigh kissing child on nose in black and white
Note: Incorrect form. Tip: DO NOT do as I did to get this photo op.
Smearing peanut butter on one's nose is NOT a part of training this trick. 

How to Teach a Dog to "Give a Kiss" in 6 Steps
(as opposed to just randomly shoving his tongue into your face at all times)

Before you start:
If you want to try this at home, you'll need a dog who likes to lick you on the face, specifically the mouth (as opposed to your eyelids or nostrils, for example, because redirecting the tongue is beyond the scope of this lesson). If you don't like being licked on the face by a dog, then, well, please read the directions anyway; there's a quiz. ;)

Step 1. Wait to catch one's dog in a happy, but calm (tired), mood.

Jon Farleigh sitting and wearing mistletoe headband, with photo caption

: Yes, Jon Farleigh is quoting Rhett Butler from Gone With the Wind. And, yes, he's wearing mistletoe on his head. It's for effect, OK?

Step 2. Get within tongue-shot of his face in a non-threatening way (i.e., NO STARING into his eyes or anything; that's threatening).

Step 3. Pucker up and tell him (nicely) to "give a kiss."

Jon Farleigh, wearing mistletoe headband. sits staring up in face of girl, with photo caption

Step 4. Keep puckering and wait for him to take the hint.
Note: If he doesn't, maybe lick your lips or gently blow a puff of air on his nose (trust me, it works).

Jon Farleigh wearing headband eagerly licks girl on face, with photo caption

Step 5. Immediately after one's dog gives the kiss (but only if he waited for your command), say "thank you." DO NOT skip this step!

Step 6. Reward him using the PRAISE suggestions* below.
Note: I have never used a treat to reward Jon Farleigh for a kiss. Wouldn't want him to confuse my lips for a spot of beef liver (or lamb lung) or anything. (But a little lamb lung later on that evening, when you're not in the mood for kisses, will be JUST FINE!) 

* Suggested praise for "giving a kiss"

1) Squeal like a piglet with joy.
2) Use your baby voice and say, "Oh, who's the best doggy in the whole wide world?! for example.
3) Lavish large amounts of rubbing and scritching upon his furry self.

Caution: Squealing like a piglet might actually entice one's dog to lick even more, making it difficult to breathe without sucking his tongue into one's airway.

Result (after several repetitions of entire procedure over several days): One's dog can "give a kiss" when told to do so.

Important (personal) aside: Jon Farleigh will also give liberal kisses when not asked to, especially when I lie on the floor on my back, or put my face next to his on the couch/bed. My husband, incidentally, does not care for facial dog smooches, but that does not stop Jon Farleigh from surprising him (husband) with a frog-like lash to the cheek.

Jon Farleigh with conversation heart around neck looks up and speaks, with speech bubble effect
I think Jon Farleigh might be due for some continuing education. *sigh*

So, do you want to see Jon Farleigh in action? Check him out! (Totally unrehearsed, by the way.)

Just call him "Hot Lips" Cardigan (M.A.S.H. pun intended). ☺

To whom it may concern: Dewi is not a kisser (except for a few "fairy" kisses to the eyelids first thing in the a.m.). He is, however, an expert spooner.

Let's Talk About Doggy Crack and Giveaways for a Bit

We weren't compensated with free crack (puffs) or otherwise to say this stuff, y'all; my pets (and that goes for the dogs and half the cats) GO WILD for Jones Natural Chews Lamb Lung Puffs! And yes, it IS just about one of the grossest things imaginable to think about eating. That's OK, though. It's PURE, made in the USA (organ) meat. It looks like dehydrated, grilled portobello mushrooms (or a steak that's been run over by a truck), but it's light and easily broken into small pieces (really small pieces for cats) and they LOVE it. (Read my full review here.)

Four photos in a square of a Jones Natural Chews bag of Lamb Lung Puffs and corgis staring intently at the treats in a person's hand
Yum! (Oh wait, ew!)

I don't give it as a daily treat, because it's THAT good. Save that high-value crack for when you want your dog to do something GREAT! Like come when called, or walk on a loose lead, or not run out the front door when you open it. OR gift it to your dog (and/or cat) for the holidays! (Ahem.)

And right on time, I'm giving away a whole 8oz. bag (provided and shipped by Jones Natural Chews)! Residents of the U.S. and Canada are eligible!
(Tip: Like Jones Natural Chews on Facebook and Twitter to be among the first to know about the latest deals!)

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Did you enter? Yay! I hope you win, but that's not all! Each entry into my treat giveaway earns the entrant one chance in the GRAND PRIZE drawing (one of three grand prizes, actually, including a Peanuts Halloween Train from Lionel Trains). And because this is a blog HOP giveaway, you can enter to win a different treat prize each day during the contest period - at each participating blog. ALL of those entries count toward the grand prizes too!

Check out all the prizes and participants! For blog hop/giveaway details, be sure to visit the event page at Kol's Notes

Trick or Treat Giveaway Hop dog cartoon graphic in poster size, including logos of all blogs and brands participating

Bonus Trick!

I call it the Dewi or "Crack" Dance. Dewi taught himself how to do it. ☺

Bobby Flay O'Fish cat swatting paw at a Jones Chews lamb lung puff on counter
A lung for me? Yes, please!

Parts of the "Give a Kiss" procedure were previously published

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Of Gourds and Cocoa-Flavored Confections: How Feeding Your Dog Pure Pumpkin Is Good for His 'Chocolate Pie'

Caution: Do NOT feed your pet chocolate. It is toxic. Chocolate dog pies* are NOT actually chocolate. In fact, similar to cow pies, they're not even edible (bugs don't count)

poster of Jon Farleigh looking up from floor with expressive eyes touting pumpkin is good for his choco-pie or poop

I heard on the news recently that consumers should prepare for sticker shock at the grocery store, as due to short supply, the price of pumpkin - both in gourd form and in the can - is about to go up. In fact, they made it sound like there might not even be enough of the canned stuff with which to make a traditional pumpkin pie over the holidays. Can you imagine?! (Thanksgiving without pumpkin pie is just another turkey dinner at my house!) More on this development in a bit, but first...

Have you seen all the pumpkin stuff in the grocery store lately? I mean, not only is every food item known to man suddenly compatible with pumpkin spice flavoring (and/or coloring), but even the non-edible stuff, too: air fresheners, soap, candles, cat litter... YES, CAT LITTER! (OK, maybe it's "crisp autumn air"-scented, but still. What cat needs to poo in an autumn air-scented toilet?? On second thought, don't answer that...)

a jug of Tidy Cats seasonal Fall Frolic scented cat litter at Target
Spotted during a recent trip to Target. I could not make this stuff up.

Sheesh, with so much pumpkin available for mass consumption, no wonder it's in short supply! We'll have to eat pumpkin pie flavored pop tarts for Thanksgiving dessert! Thanks a lot, food and scented-stuff makers!

Alright. So the reason I'm telling you all this - contrary to what it may seem - is not to frustrate or alarm you (or make you hungry for pie), but to show you how EASY it is to get pumpkin (the pure, good stuff**) into your dog's diet, in comparison!

Jon Farleigh and Dewi lying on floor uninterested in the pie pumpkin being held over their heads
Exactly what is it, ma?

But back to that pumpkin shortage...Look, I don't know if it's true or hype - pumpkin is certainly NOT scarce where I shop, nor has the price gone up - but just in case it might, RUN! Go to the store and buy some pumpkin (either a couple of the small, pie pumpkins or 2-3 15-oz cans)! Your dog will thank you later (when he accidentally eats some OTHER animal's "choco-pie" in the yard/box, for example, and gets an upset stomach)!

Jon Farleigh in bathroom corner looking guilty with speech bubble talking fart
But I didn't eat the poo. 

Like that one time (and the several subsequent other times) when Jon Farleigh had a problem. I just gave him a couple spoons full of canned pumpkin on top of a bland diet, and POO POOT POOP POOF! His pies went from loose to firm and completely slice-able in no time***!

*** Do NOT EVER do that! (Slice a dog pie. Oh, the horror!)
**  In addition to dietary fiber, pure pumpkin (including the seeds) is loaded with beta-carotene, vitamin A, iron, potassium, magnesium, manganese, copper, and zinc. It is also a good source of antioxidants. Only one or two spoons full of pumpkin is recommended per feeding, however, as too much can cause an unhealthy build-up of certain nutrients in your pet. More scientific information here.

My Top 2 Ways to Obtain Pure Pumpkin for Feeding

1. Buy a small, PIE pumpkin (they'll be labeled as such) - NOT a carving, Halloween pumpkin - at your grocery store, or produce stand. Then, follow this RECIPE FOR FRESH PUMPKIN PUREE from the Pioneer Woman. (Don't worry, it's simple.)

Jon Farleigh and Dewi sniffing a whole pie pumpkin hanging over their heads
Great Scott! It's a PUNKIN!

2. Buy a can of pure pumpkin in the grocery store. This is my preferred method.
(Note: DO NOT buy the Libby's Pumpkin Pie Mix in the giant can! It is loaded with sugar, fat and spices, because it is PIE filling, and by that I mean the EDIBLE kind. Just make sure your pumpkin is pure.)

Jon Farleigh dog sniffing a can of pure pumpkin
I love you with every fiber of my squash-colored being!
(Note: Do not give your dog the can. This photo is only for show.)

How to Store Extra Pumpkin So It Doesn't Go to Waste

If you're using pumpkin to correct your dog's occasional pie issues, you won't need to use a whole can, nor a whole pumpkin's worth.

When I have leftover pumpkin, I just divide it into freezer bags/containers, freeze, and then pull it out as needed. No need to even thaw (if you've frozen in single servings). You can also spread the leftover pumpkin in an ice tray and freeze it in cubes.


Use Leftovers to Make Yummy Pumpkin Dog Treats for Another Day!

And you're in luck, because our blog friends at Rubicon Days just published this curated list of 10 healthy pumpkin treats for dogs! (Go see; you and your dog will drool!)

Now, if you'll excuse me, I think I hear a Krispy Kreme pumpkin spice cake doughnut calling...
picture of Krispy Kreme pumpkin spice cake doughnut
((Ring)) "Hello."
"You need some fried pumpkin spice cake in your life."
"OK, be there in 20 minutes!"

Do you give your pet pumpkin regularly? (Or irregularly, to combat irregularity? ☺) Do you have any "serving" tips to share?

* The first time I ever published a post about feeding my dogs pumpkin, I referred to their "chocolate pie" as "Hershey." I decided to go a little less brand-name this time. Especially since Halloween is coming up, and hello? Reese's PB Cups! (Hershey product.)  Those are sacred, y'all.

picture of wrapped Reese's peanut butter pumpkin
Does not (and better not ever) contain actual pumpkin. ♥
(Do not feed to your dog.)

But like whoever heard of someone handing out chocolate pie on Halloween? No one! (But in the rare event someone does, RUN FOR YOUR LIFE!  They're trying to kill you! ☺)

P.S. Pure pumpkin is great for cats, too. If you can get them to eat it.

P.P.S. Halloween is in the air and you'll wanna stay tuned (to the blog and/or Facebook), because tricks, treats and a HUGE giveaway are coming next week!

poster for Trick or Treat giveaway blog hop with cute cartoon dogs


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...