Almost a year ago, I adopted my dog Barclay from the Austin Humane Society. His name was Ringo then, and he was terrified of most things. He hated busses, cats, and his crate. He couldn’t really walk on a leash without trying to eat it. He was even scared of cameras, so this was one of the best pictures I could get of him during that first month. (I snuck up on him ninja style while he was sleeping.)
Today Barclay is a healthy, happy dog. He gets along great with our cats Chloe and Cannonball Adderley, and with his cousin dog Spirit.
Barclay still struggles quite a bit with separation anxiety when he’s locked in his crate during the day. Besides an hour-long walk each day, the best tool we’ve found for Barclay’s mental health is a kong (the red, hive shaped toy pictured to his right). Each day we stuff it with tasty treats and he licks and plays with it all day until we’re home from work.
The only bummer is that pre-made Kong fillings can be kind of expensive and gross (liver paste is the seventh of 30 ingredients in the liver paste flavored commercial product) plus it doesn’t work that well. We’ve taken to cementing his regular kibble inside the kong using various homemade purees. These use up our leftover local box ingredients and give us a cheap, fun way to keep Barclay entertained. Here’s one of my favorites:
Homemade Kong Filling
1 big sweet potato, cut into chunks
1 apple, cored and sliced with all seeds removed
1/4 cup peanut butter
Cut up the sweet potato and core and slice the apple. Be sure to get all the seeds out of the apple since the seeds contain trace amounts of cyanide which can be toxic to dogs in large amounts over time.* Microwave the sweet potato and apple for several minutes until tender.
Combine cooked apple and sweet potato with 1/4 cup peanut butter in a food processor or blender. Puree until smooth. Store in the fridge in an airtight container until you’re ready to feed to your dog. I layer about a tablespoon of Kong filling with a tablespoon of kibble in Barclay’s kong until it’s full, making sure the puree creates a plug in the top. For extra long days I prepare the kong the night before and freeze it overnight so Barclay has to work extra hard to lick out all the goodies inside. This recipe lasts us about a week in the fridge.
*Please talk to your vet about any food allergy or health concerns you may have about your dogs. This recipe is vet-approved for Barclay!