What the Doggies Eat

Ruby and Conner500
the Border Collies

Visitors who have read my book Plant Whatever Brings You Joy: Blessed Wisdom from the Garden are well aware that it’s far less “a gardening book” and far more a book about applying 52 lessons learned in the garden to everyday life. For so many gardeners our lives include our fur babies, our companion animals, who are part of our families, and tending to them and enjoying their love and personalities are part of what brings us joy. On occasion I have dedicated a post on this blog to one of my special doggie loves, but it’s been awhile, and so today I turn to something I’ve wanted to share for quite awhile–what I feed the doggies. Specifically I’m speaking of the diet I offer Ruby and Conner daily.

I have a couple of friends who have informed others, “She cooks for her dogs. Warm food.” [Insert eye roll.] And it’s true. I do. And I’m glad I have this practice.

Having been a hippy in the 60’s my life included a year in the woods eating mostly rice and vegetables, followed by three years in Amsterdam where my diet was primarily macrobiotic. In both environs herbs played a big role in eating and in healing. We drank chamomile to sleep well. We drank peppermint for digestion. We turned to slippery elm for throat problems and we drank raspberry leaf tea when we were having babies. So food as science, as chemistry, as energy, was integral to our lifestyles. And I’ve only built on that in the subsequent years.

Naturally this extended to What to Feed the Dogs. I’m certain I’m not alone in searching for the Perfect Kibble, or at least one that has not been recalled once or twice. Good grief! And then there was the China fiasco and that’s all I’m going to say about that, except to say I won’t buy any pet toy or food made in China.

So, eventually, and more recently, I’ve settled in on Paul Newman kibble in the mornings. And this is when I add all the supplements I count on, as well as a single pill for Conner as he’s a twelve year old now, and I call him My Boy but he’s really My Dear Old Man, and his back hips were giving him quite a spell.

So let’s talk about that for a moment, as I know for sure I’m not alone in dealing with the back hips and legs of an aging dog. Here’s what I found works for him, at least for now. Working meaning, he’s better. I turned to Katy Sommers’ book The Complete Holistic Dog Book. She’s a local vet. She recommended for arthritis including both green lipped mussel and boswellia. Fat chance finding the mussel and I found the boswellia, but Katy neglects to say how much. So wasn’t I so grateful when I found a product at the local feed store called ArthiSoothe by NaturVet, which has both glucosamine and chondroitin, but also the two elusive remedies! All measured out! So that little pill you see in the center of Conner’s dish, is that. I just add one a day. I also, depending on how he seems, day to day, am giving him one pellet of 6x arnica at night, because I contacted Boiron (who makes it) and they told me 6x for localized ailments, 30x for all over ailments. Bingo. This is a good combo and I can really tell the difference. So that happened. And maybe it’s useful to you.
Now. Back to the supplements they each get just to stay healthy. I add to kibble: bone meal, cod liver oil, kelp, turmeric, fresh rosemary, brewer’s yeast, and, critically, and I can’t believe this isn’t common knowledge and practice, about 2-3 T. of warm water, stirring it up. They are so happy I started adding the water. It makes such a difference. Understandably.

So that’s how we start the day, after they have exercised out of doors, of course.

Now, I want to mention two other books which have very much influenced what I feed the dogs. First strong influence was Dr. Richard Pitcairn. Here’s his old book which is dogeared now. Pretty sure he has a newer edition. Get it!


Then I discovered Andi Brown’s book The Whole Pet Diet, and while I’m not following it to the letter of the law, it expanded what I was already doing and encouraged me to experiment more. So essentially, at noon(ish) the dogs get:
a grain (or two), protein, and a vegetable–all cooked. Grains include one or more of the following: basmati rice, or sticky rice, or quinoa, or millet or barley. Sometimes I add oats, but rarely. Protein is usually free range chicken or fish or chicken livers (only organic from the health food store; you would not believe the difference!), or ground beef (locally grazed and butchered cows), or organic free range eggs, though less often, and sometimes cottage cheese.
Veggies in winter are often squash. I usually bake something like kabocha or spaghetti squash or butternut squash once a week and they get most of it. If I’m cooking chicken, I do it in water so I can heat their food with broth (my preference) and in the broth I’m simultaneously cooking celery and carrots, which they get. I love to give them pumpkin puree, and there are years when I focus in fall on cooking a lot of them and storing puree in the freezer. This year I bought a lot of pumpkin cans during the holidays (on sale, organic with healthy cans) and stored, so I can open one of those if need be. Baked sweet potato is another excellent choice. Here’s a typical meal:

red quinoa, basmati rice, chicken livers and spaghetti squash in broth

I love cooking basmati rice and red quinoa together. So easy. (You do have to remember to rinse it off first to eliminate any arsenic.) So there’s always something available and I’m simply heating up whatever is on hand at noon. Simple and makes for very happy healthy dogs!
If you’ve ever had Border Collies you know they can create little routines you had no intention as establishing as daily! So I have to say that these two have roped me into giving them a piece of fruit or a raw carrot (or whatever–peanut butter, from the health food store with no sugar, is a fave) at dusk. When I’ve extra time (haha) I sometimes bake them dog cookies. :)


I hope this post serves you. I look forward to your comments!

Love and doggie blessings,
Kathryn xoxo
Footnote: Folks have been privately emailing me concerned about peanut butter for various reasons. I say this: very small spoonfuls now and then, maybe on a piece of apple or pear, I think are fine, as long as you’re not buying commercial big box store peanut butter ladened with xylitol and sugar and heaven only knows what else! Salt, maybe. As with everything, the less a food has been “messed with” the better off you are and your doggies are. :)

Book News: Two new articles have appeared this last week, happily! One is in DIG-IT Magazine, the second on Flora’s Forum, where I have agreed to be an ongoing contributor. My thanks to the editors for the opportunity to share my voice. ~ Lastly, I would love to share that if you’ve read Plant Whatever Brings You Joy and you have an account at Amazon and are so inclined, a review on Amazon goes a long way in the Marketing Department and does this writer’s heart so much good to hear how you loved the book. Thank you for considering! xoxo


Very yummy tapioca pudding!


During the Christmas holiday I pulled my beloved Grandmother’s pudding bowls out of the cupboard, excited to find time to make tapioca pudding, which I love! I use a recipe I think I pulled decades ago out of the Pacific Sun when we still lived in Marin Co. It’s a teeny bit time consuming but absolutely delicious and I’m happy to share with you. And I’m particularly happy to share with my dear blogging friend Liz in the UK, who has recently educated me that while tapioca pudding is common in the UK, it’s apparently most often associated with a gloppy mixture served in the cafeteria at public schools, I believe with a dollop of jam or some such concoction, so let’s undo that memory with this new good one, shall we??

If you are like I am you grew up with Minute Tapioca and never really took the time to figure what it actually is. We are using pearl tapioca from the health food store for this recipe, and, for the record, tapioca is extracted from the root of the cassava plant, known originally in South America but now cultivated and used worldwide.

So here we go. You will be needing these ingredients:


1/2 cup pearl tapioca
2 1/2 cups milk
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup sugar
2 large organic eggs, separated
1 tsp. pure vanilla

First, soak the pearl tapioca in two cups of room temperature water overnight. Drain before using.

Heat the milk in a double boiler just until no longer cold. Add the pearl tapioca and the salt. Then continue heating the mixture until tiny bubbles begin to appear around the edges of the milk. Cover the mixture, turning heat to very low, and cook for one hour. You need not stir, but you must make sure the mixture neither simmers nor boils, so a bit of monitoring is in order.

Separate the egg whites from the yolks. Beat the egg yolks and sugar together until light yellow in color. Then add a bit of the hot mixture to the egg yolk mixture and blend thoroughly. Now add the egg yolk mixture to the hot milk mixture, stirring constantly. Place the double boiler over medium heat and cook about 15 minutes, until the pudding is very thick. I stir often during this process.

Beat the egg whites until stiff.


Then slowly fold the hot tapioca pudding mixture into the egg whites. Lastly stir in the vanilla.
Ladle into dishes.

This is heaven in a dish! You may serve warm (best) or wait and serve chilled.


I hope you will be inspired to make this at home and serve to your family, who will be most grateful! I think it’s especially comforting after a winter’s meal. Let me know!

Love and kitchen blessings,
Kathryn xoxo

Book News: Latest news is that I’ve accepted an invitation to be a monthly contributor to a group blog called Flora’s Forum, which I think you will enjoy. Please see my blogroll for link. It’s an interesting bunch of contributors and I’m looking forward to adding my voice. Thanks to Sandra Knauf for the invitation. Also watch for an upcoming excerpt from Plant Whatever Brings You Joy in Western North Carolina Woman. Lastly, many thanks to those of you who purchased copies of Plant Whatever Brings You Joy as holiday gifts for your loved ones. So much appreciated!


Wreaths, Part Two!

Maggie’s wreath

When I recently wrote about gathering natural materials for a wreath from what one would find in the garden I fully expected to shortly be posting a pic of the wreath I’d made from that bevy of beautiful gatherings. However I did not anticipate that only two days later all I’d brought together, and oh so thoughtfully, I’d believed, stored in water in a big water tub would be stuck under an inch of ice! Haha! So I waited for an opportune time and warmer temps. Meanwhile I learned the holiday gods were conspiring to make my wreath-making a much more lively and social affair than I’ve envisioned when dear longtime friend Maloah called one morning and invited me to a Greens Party, held annually at her sister’s house. I could bring whatever I wanted for wreath-making, and her sister would be providing a wide range of creative options from which I was welcome to choose whatever I fancied! How fun and how lovely!

So yesterday I found myself walking out onto Maggie’s deck where Christmas carols were playing, and where a number of tables had been set up, each bearing numerous choices, and each surrounded by longtime friends of Maggie, all making their holiday wreaths! What a fantastic way to officially enter the holiday season!


dried fruits

wreath in making

I am one of those folks who meets the animals at gatherings usually before I meet the people. This was Maggie’s orange kitty who was very responsive. He recognized a kitty lover immediately. So cute. His name is Flapjack! I just called him Kitty and he liked that. 😉


guest making lovely wreath

As we worked on our wreaths Maloah and Maggie explained to me that the Greens Party had been initiated many decades ago by their mother, who has since gone to heaven, and they are carrying on the tradition! This piece of information touched my heart deeply, that I was partaking in an old family tradition. What a wonderful thing for adult children to do. I felt her mom’s presence at this gathering. It was palpable.

This was the wreath I worked on. I found myself wanting to keep it very simple, gravitating to primarily rosemary and true myrtle, to which I have an affinity, with a bit of willow added for more texture. Also I finally made use of the quinces that grow in my garden!


Here was the final result!

I am sharing this in plenty of time for you to consider a Greens Party at your home, with those you love. What a nurturing memory for your family.

Meanwhile, if you email me pics of the wreaths you’ve made at plantjoyblog [@] gmail.com I will add to this post! I would love to see what you’ve created!

Enjoy the spirit of the season.

Love and holiday blessings,
Kathryn xoxox

Book News: I am hearing from friends they are buying copies of Plant Whatever Brings You Joy as Christmas presents for their loved ones. I invite you to consider whether a copy would bring joy to someone on your list. Thank you!

Here’s Maloah’s wreath, which she kindly sent along! Beautiful!


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