Food

Best Friend’s Treats: Bake up some special dog biscuits.

Chris Xaver Photos

Some of my earliest and favorite memories feature a dog. A BIG dog—a Great Dane named Lady. Other recollections are of being pulled around the yard by Smokey on a harness attached to a sled.

The rumor was that Smokey was part wolf. I was just a kid. I have no idea. Of course, he looked like a wolf to me—he was most likely just a Husky mix of some type. But to us, he was a wolf and we made up stories about his exotic existence and how he landed in our yard.

You see, all of our dogs over the years found us. We never bought a pet. And that’s still the way it is.

Today, I have four dogs. (I had more, but Xena passed from old age a few months ago.) I don’t go looking for dogs, but I have a problem saying no when they land in my lap.

To me, dogs equal love. And I’m not alone in thinking that; 36.5 percent of American households have at least one dog. They’re not just for companionship: Dogs can also be therapeutic.

At the college I teach at, as final exams approach, our library schedules times when dogs are brought in for students to play and interact with. (Apparently, we took a cue from the Lillian Goldman Law Library at Yale, which began using therapy dogs some seven years ago.) In fact, schools across the country are offering dogs as ways for both students and teachers to de-stress and feel joy and love at no cost to the institutions. 

Dogs are known to help people lower blood pressure. The act of simply petting an animal reduces anxiety and produces a calming effect. Dogs shower us with affection. That sense of pure love can help those who are struggling with a sense of loneliness. Dogs “listen” so well, they even help us communicate.

A program that I find incredible is the PAWS (Pet Assisted Wellness Services) of CNY reading program, which encourages parents and caregivers to have their children read to dogs at the library. PAWS helps kids with their literacy as it increases their self-confidence.

Remember, our dogs love it when we’re talking to them. They’re not judging as we’re reading and perhaps stumbling a little bit, or mispronouncing a word here or there.

Dogs give us so much, but the one thing that I hear from my friends is that our canine friends just don’t live long enough. When they lose their companion, I often hear them say they don’t want to get another dog because they can’t go through that loss again.

I disagree. I think our dogs are here to help teach us (and our kids) that lesson, too: how we can grieve and yet remember the good times, how to go on living without them, and how to go on and love another. We aren’t replacing them, we are simply sharing the love. I think that’s a great lesson for us and those in our lives.

So, to make the most out of the time I have with my furbabies, I like to make special treats for them. Here are two recipes for biscuits. My dogs love anything with bananas or peanut butter in them. I hope yours do, too! 

Easy Dog Biscuit Recipes

Vegan Dog Biscuits

  • 3 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 cups quick-cook oats
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1 cup unsweetened  applesauce
  • 1  1/4 teaspoons  baking powder
  • 1/ 3 cup oil (use what you  have or like—olive, coconut or canola)

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Knead and roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface. If the dough is too loose, add a bit more flour. If it’s too crumbly, add a bit more oil. Roll the dough to about 1/4 inch thick and cut into shapes with cookie cutters. Or cut into strips or roll into small balls. Use a silpat or parchment paper on a cookie sheet to prevent sticking.

Place the shapes about 1/2 inch apart on the cookie sheet, and bake for about 25 minutes, until lightly browned. Store in the fridge or freezer.

Peanut Butter and Banana Dog Biscuits

  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup peanut butter
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup oats (you can use quick or old-fashioned)
  • 1/2 cup mashed banana

Heat oven to 300 degrees. Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Roll the dough to about 1/4 inch thick and cut into shapes with cookie cutters. Or cut into strips or roll into small balls. Use a silpat or parchment paper on a cookie sheet to prevent sticking.

Place the shapes about 1/2 inch apart on the cookie sheet, and bake for about 25 minutes, until lightly browned. Store in the fridge or freezer.

Click here for the printable recipe page.

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