When you get a dog, you want to give him or her the very best of everything, including awesome, species-appropriate, natural and nourishing food. This was our feeling when Carmen came to live with us a few months ago. (Not sure why we never thought about doing it for the cats, but there you go. They're indifferent, we're indifferent. I don't hear them complaining. And if I did, I could just shut the door.)

Carmen gets a mix of raw and homemade food. Our main aim is her health and well-being, but the homemade food has an extra benefit, which is the the house is frequently scented with the broth we prepare for her. It's way nicer than wet dog smell. The broth is made with beef bones, primarily. Incidentally, it is not always easy to find these. Al Fair bring everything in boneless, la-di-da. And unscrupulous customers whose dog-ownership pre-dates ours have already got the Carrefour guys sewn up...but we beg them like orphaned strays to toss us a femur every now and then. Lulu is the best, as they sell pre-packaged bones right there with their steaks and ribs, although they're not always very meaty.

So. You slow-cook the bones in water, stirring every so often to make sure to get all the bones under the water where they can seep their goodness fully, for four or five hours. Near the end, add the herbs and spices. Use a combination of pretty much any of them; we usually include cinnamon, turmeric, and fresh parsley and coriander. (Sometimes we go a bit Mediterranean and use rosemary, thyme, sage.) Throw some fennel seeds in there too. These all make it taste good, smell good, and each ingredient purportedly boosts dog-health in various ways: digestion, joint strength, even breath-freshening. If in doubt, go and check www.canigivemydog.com. Just ignore the bits they sometimes put in the articles along the lines of "yes you can, but why would you want to when your dog could be eating this delicious Purina?"

Once it smells really good, you strain it off. Remove the bones, scrape all the meaty bits off them, and add those back into the broth. Throw the cooked bones away, properly! Do not throw them NEAR the bin in the road, where my dog might eat them and DIE! Poorly-discarded cooked bones are the bane of our neighbourhood walks, and it's very unfair, given that I go to such nauseating lengths to leave the streets as I found them. There really should be special sealed bone-bins. Anyway. Skim the fat from the top if you want, or leave it if you're trying to get your dog pudgier; it's full of good stuff. While it cools, you can steam your vegetables, or toss them in some olive oil; when they're cooked lightly, blend them up and throw them in your stew pot with the broth. If the bones weren't super-meaty, you can add some chicken thighs in there.

That's it! We make a couple of batches a week and serve it for dinner every night after her walk. Also, if you're feeling a bit smug from taking such good care of your dog by producing this amazing high-performance mega-broth, you can reward yourself by siphoning off a bit for yourself before you've added the vegetables, seasoning, and using it as a stock for risotto and so forth. It tastes fantastic and you will develop a lovely thick and shiny coat.

(Now, the broth, while nutritious and tasty, is not that attractive, especially when it's in a dog bowl, so instead please find below a picture of our beautiful dog, as proof of its efficacy.)









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