When I first got Saro, I was determined to give him the best dog food I could find. I had these criteria in mind:
1) Meat (not meat byproducts) as a primary ingredient
2) No corn — definitely not corn as the first ingredient
3) Made in the USA

I fed him a decent (somewhat expensive) food and he was happy to eat it. So happy, in fact, that he would drool with anticipation as I scooped the food into his bowl.

After some time, though, he became less enthusiastic. He would walk up to the bowl, sniff it, and walk away. He seemed to wait until he absolutely needed to eat; sometimes a whole day went by. I tried different brands and it was always the same thing: for a couple of days, he would eat it with no problem, and then he lost interest. I tried putting treats in his bowl with the food. Often that worked. It got him excited enough to take a few bites and then hunger took over and he would eat all the food. So, this was fine except…. I was tired of always bribing him to eat. And I didn’t want to pay for expensive food that he didn’t like. He often had watery poops, which led me to believe that the food wasn’t agreeing with him. Plus, I missed those days when he really loved his food.

So, one day, I went to the grocery store and bought some cheap, unhealthy, corn-based dog food. And of course, he loved it. He ate it all up. How could I argue with that? He has few pleasures in life: going outside and eating. I want him to have a good life. So I kept buying the cheap stuff and he kept eating it.

But the guilt got to me. It was like feeding him Twinkies. It was dyed bright colors and full of artificial flavors and poor-quality ingredients. I needed a new plan.

I did some research. I thought about it. And slowly, I realized that I was about to turn a corner in my life.

I made homemade Meat Cakes for the dog.

He gets one Cake with a scoop of food (Newman’s Organic, which is slightly cheaper than the premium brands, but still has decent ingredients). I make a batch of Meat Cakes every two weeks and freeze them.

He doesn’t drool while I prepare the food, but he does sit at my feet and wait for it. He eats it all up and then comes to me for a pet on the head. He seems happy. And he always gets compliments on his shiny coat.

If there are any other crazies dog lovers out there that want to try this, here’s the recipe I’m using. (I found it on the Internet somewhere.) It’s very simple and doesn’t take much time. A food processor makes the grating and chopping a breeze. It appears to have a good balance of meat, whole grains and vegetables. And, in a pinch, you can eat them too!

Saro’s Meat Cakes

3/4 cups brown rice
1 1/2 cups water
1 large potato, grated
2 large carrots, grated
1 large celery stalk, chopped
3 pounds ground beef
4 eggs
1 dash salt
1/8 cup olive oil
3/4 cups regular rolled oats

1    Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Grease 36 cups of 3 large muffin tins.
2    In a medium saucepan, combine the rice with water. Bring to a boil over high heat, uncovered, and cook 10 minutes. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer 20 minutes. Remove from heat, let cool several minutes, then fluff with a fork and set aside.
3    In a large bowl, combine the potatoes, carrots, celery, ground beef, and eggs. Mix ingredients together using your hands or a sturdy spoon. Add salt, olive oil, rolled oats, and rice; mix well.
4    Fill each muffin cup with some of the meat mixture, and pat down the make it firm. Bake 45 minutes, or until surface feels set. Cool on a rack 10 minutes or longer.
5    Remove the meat cakes by turning the muffin tin upside down over a sheet of aluminum foil. Tap each muffin cup to release the cake. Refrigerate or freeze in sealed plastic bags. NOTE: Do not feed to dogs while still hot.