Say hello to Bella! She is a 7-month-old female purebred boxer with a gorgeous brindle coat, adorable little white paws, and eyes that make your heart melt. She is a Cancer (born 7/21/09), and she enjoys snuggling in bed, long walks and runs at Garden of the Gods, and not-so-ferociously tearing apart chew toys. My sister and her boyfriend got little Bella when she was only 3 months old, and I met her for the first time when I went out to Colorado Springs for a visit. What can I say? It was love at first sight. Bella has amazing muscle tone and looks so strong, but yet she is still tiny and cute in a way that I suppose only a large-breed puppy can appear. She is amazingly well-behaved (aside from the appearance of her alter ego, which I refer to endearingly as "Bella Pooper"), and any owners of chronic barkers take note: I never heard her bark once while I was visiting! Even on one occasion when we were wrestling over a chew toy, I happened to growl at her, and she immediately backed away, and looked at me as if to say, "Now was that really necessary?"
Though she is usually a little angel, even Bella apparently has a mischievous streak. In the three days that I was visiting, Bella managed to chew a pair of tevas, scratch the top of the kitchen table, poop in the house 4 times, eat a hand lotion, and then puke it up. Quite a busy schedule for a little pup! Even though this was completely out of character for her, my sister and her boyfriend scolded Bella each time she misbehaved. Aww, just looking at her, you could tell the poor thing felt badly about what she had done. She turned those apologetic puppy eyes on us and despite the poop and puke we just wanted to love her and hug her and... bake her puppy treats! Because really, could you say no to this face?
We got the recipe for these healthy homemade treats from Baking For Your Dog by Ingebord Pils. If you are a dog owner, this is a great book to have on hand. Just flipping through, the recipes are varied in type, yet all seem relatively simple; which is essential considering many of us can hardly find the time to prepare healthy meals for ourselves, much less our pets! But when it comes down to it, even if the recipes were time consuming, I think many dog owners might make them anyway. For many people, pets are companions and members of the family, like adorable little children that never really grow up. Although I don’t have children of my own, I think health-conscious parents feed their kids the most natural foods they can get them to eat, and the same goes for pets (for those of you in San Diego, find healthy treats here). My sister feeds her dog organic food and organic treats now, but especially if you cannot afford all-natural dog food or treats these cookies are a perfect and cost-effective alternative. Since these dog treats don’t contain any chemicals or preservatives and only raw ingredients they will surely be a more beneficial indulgence for your pooch.
Little Bella has a penchant for carrots and bananas, so we decided to make “Bonnie’s Banana Cookies” since they contain both. The alliteration was just too tempting so we renamed them Bella’s Banana Treats. Making these treats could not be easier: all you do is shred the carrots; mash the banana; mix in the flour, oats, and oil; cut out the squares and bake. You can even let your doggie help out!
The dough for the treats is a little sticky, so rather than roll it out we just spread it out with our fingers, with no detriment to the final product. The important thing is to achieve uniform size and thickness so that all the treats cook evenly. You wouldn't eat a burned or undercooked cookie, so why should your dog? Once the treats are finished baking, the recipe calls for them to be left in the oven for 24 hours to cool. The longer they are in the oven the more dried out they will get; drier treats will be more appropriate for larger dogs with sharp teeth.
My sister and I baked our treats, turned off the oven and then took little Bella out for Sunday afternoon playtime where she could gallop around to her heart’s content. We returned home a few hours later with one tuckered out pooch, and opened the oven to check our finished product. The treats looked done, and not too brown but just golden. We took one out and gave it a sniff, and it actually smelled wholesome, if it is possible for something to have such a scent. Then we let Bella have a sniff and she was definitely interested! Before we gave her one to eat, we decided to taste them ourselves to ensure they were baked through; sure, it was a dog treat, but everything in them was good enough for people to eat too. And to be honest, by the measure of my tastebuds, the treats were crunchy, and a little bland with a hint of sweetness that I am sure any pet would enjoy. But the true test…Would Bella like the treats as well as the store-bought version? Although we didn’t set up a side-by-side blind taste test, Bella dug right into the treats and gobbled them up like candy. I think you could say we found a winner!