My gorgeous Bulldogge King just turned 4 years old on the 4th of January! It seems like I should be feeling as though it is hard to believe that much time has passed since I brought him home. But the fact is, it actually feels like so much longer than that!
Not because time drags with this guy around. No, it’s not that at all. Not with this guy. And most certainly not because it is unpleasant to have him here. Truth is, he makes every day so darn delightful that it passes before I can even blink!
But rather, because it is hard to remember ever being without him. He is the center of the tribe around here. This whole little corner of the world revolves almost entirely around him.
There is an occasional fleeting moment where I wonder if he knows that he is at the center of it all. But, fact is, I really do hope he has no idea. It is, and always has been, my full intention to build him the most desirable world possible. To raise him in a space where there is nothing but warmth, kindness, joy, and contentment. And it is my sincere hope that he never comes to understand that anything different from that exists. I prefer for him to believe that the world as he knows it is the only world there is 😉
Since he came home with me, his days have been full of massages, friendly ‘battles’ over toys, sticks (perhaps his favorite thing), truck rides, and walks in the woods. He eats good, healthy food that is hand-prepared for him every day. And as far as he knows all he has to do is express a desire and someone will fulfill it for him. He lives a life to be envied, for sure!
Which is the very reason that I found myself wondering how to make his birthday a special event. There isn’t much more that can be done for a bulldogge in a day than what I already do for this sweet king. I’ve got that covered. So coming up with a special treat, besides a new toy, felt pretty difficult indeed.
I did make him a canine cake. That tradition was born last year. And I expect it to last throughout his lifetime. But what would I do this year?!?!
I looked back on a post I wrote some time ago, 12 Ways to Pamper Your Best Friend, in the hopes that I would have a eureka moment and know exactly how to proceed with the birthday festivities. All I discovered is that the reason it was so easy for me to come up with the 12 pamper your pup suggestions in that post is because Riley is a pampered pup!
The only tip I could possibly employ from this post as a special birthday treat was to build his handsome little self a doghouse. Riley does not have a doghouse. He needs one. And so you would think that a doghouse would be the perfect gift for his special day. Seems like problem solved, right?!?!
But it is winter here in Aroostook County, Maine. I have no indoor space suitable to build a doghouse in, and I wouldn’t even be able to put it in the yard. The ground is covered in snow. It will stay that way until spring at this point.
After I took my focus off trying to come up with a plan and just went about my daily business, the solution came to me. It was so obvious. I’m pretty sure that if someone had been here to witness this revelation, they would have actually seen a little lightbulb appear directly over my head when it happened.
I remembered a good friend of mine introducing me to the jerky maker this fall. He was making a batch of beef jerky for a mutual friend of ours to take hunting.
This jerky maker was a simple little gadget that looked like a caulk gun. It could be filled with seasoned ground meat, which could then be dispensed into a dehydrator in the form of jerky strips.
Then all that’s left to do is let the dehydrator take over the job from there. You do have to take the time to flip them once about halfway through the dehydrating process. But that’s no trouble really. Just takes a minute.
PRO TIP: It may be necessary to loosen the strips from the tray by using your fingers to push them up through the tray from the back side of it.
It occurred to me that this handy little tool would likely work just as well with any food mixture that had enough substance to maintain the form of a strip on a dehydrator tray. So, if I filled it with healthy canine ingredients, I would end up with some pretty ahhhhhhhmazing dog treats. Dog treats that are nutritious and TASTY! Dog treats fit for a bulldogge king’s birthday ❤
This ‘magic’ jerky maker carries a price tag of about $75. Which really isn’t much in the big scheme of things. It would get more than it’s fair share of use around here, for sure. No doubt it would pay for itself several times over. BUT if it didn’t work the way I expected it to, that’s a tidy little chunk of money to waste.
There were cheaper ones available on the worldwide interweb, but my friend told me not to waste my money on them. He said he bought one of those, before he bought the one he has now, and it didn’t work well at all.
Lucky for me, I was in the fortunate position of being able to borrow his jerky maker for a trial run, before I bought the bulldogge one of his very own. So I took advantage of that blessing and got to work on making treats for the bulldogge king’s special day!
The results of my efforts were pretty impressive, if I do say so myself! Riley is definitely getting his own jerky maker! Happy Happy Birthday to him 🥳🥳🥳
A wider variety of treat options will be available to him now. And, more importantly, they will be made with ingredients that nourish his brawny little body! That’s an appropriate way to treat such a special creature for the celebration of his birth, right?!?!
There will be chicken, beef, turkey, rabbit, heart, kidney, liver, oyster, whitefish, flounder, cod, catfish, tuna, apple, banana, pineapple, strawberry, blueberry, squash, zucchini, green bean, pumpkin, sweet potato, carrot, bell pepper, and broccoli treats on the regular in his future.
I decided to make liver, cod, and sweet potato treats, while I had my friends jerky maker on a trial run. These are 3 of Riley’s favorite foods, so they made a rather nice assortment of goodies for his birthday! AND they were great to experiment with as they had varying textures.
I ran the liver through a meat grinder, added a couple of eggs and some ground beef. I originally wasn’t planning on adding beef to this mix. But it was too loose to sit on top of the dehydrator trays without it. So beef it was 😉 There are no exact ratios for the ingredients. I used a little more than two pounds of liver, a little less than one pound of beef, and two eggs.
The cod was chopped into small chunks and pureed in a food processor with eggs. Again, no exact measurements. I used two large cod filets and two eggs.
It wasn’t necessary to add anything to the sweet potatoes. They had the right consistency from the start. I simply baked them, took off the peel, and pureed them in the food processor.
NOTE: You are striving for a paste-like consistency with your blends.
The liver/beef mixture was thick enough that it made a sturdy little strip of dehydrated meat when finished. Both the cod and the sweet potato dried down a bit too thin. In the future I will make them twice as thick when laying them out in the dehydrator. I made them thicker than the jerky maker attachment was designed to dispense this time. But it wasn’t quite enough.
No matter. That is what the experimental stage of a project is for, right?!?! Trial and error.
All in all it took very little time and effort to make this tasty little assortment of canine jerky strips. And Riley is now knee-deep in healthy, additive free dog treats! He’s clearly pretty thrilled with that situation, so I’m going to call the decision to buy him a jerky maker for his birthday a success!
My bulldogge king will be eating cake and jerky treats all week long! Lucky dog!
The best part is that his treat game is permanently changed for the better. I often make him handmade treats. I prefer to know what is in his food, just as I prefer to know what is in mine. And I do my best to avoid food items that do not fall under the whole food category. Best to eat food the way nature created it in my opinion.
But, it’s hard to keep up with having handmade dog treats around at all times. And most of the treats I do make for him require refrigeration. He rarely finishes an entire batch before they need to be disposed of.
However … dehydrated jerky treats will solve both of those issues. I can make more at a time, without worrying about waste. It’s a big WIN-WIN!
HAPPY HAPPY BIRTHDAY RILEY ❤ ❤ ❤ MAY YOU BE GREATLY BLESSED THROUGHOUT THE COMING YEAR! YOU ARE MORE THAN I COULD HAVE HOPED FOR IN A CANINE FRIEND! I AM GRATEFUL THAT YOU CHOOSE TO LOVE ME ❤️🥰❤️
PRO TIP II: Research what you are making canine treats out of for the safety of your dog. There are several things that dogs cannot have. Obviously, these things should be avoided. Additionally, dogs are not very spice friendly. You are not doing your canine friend any favors by spicing up their food for flavor. Give it to them in the purest form possible. No spices, no grains, no sugar.