My friend, Chuck, has the greenest dog I ever knew. Toby and Chuck came to live at Yoga House a few months ago and moved into the pod next to mine. There was some concern at the outset about Toby because he is a huge dog and appears to be all or mostly pit bull, and with our garden projects we weren’t sure having a big pit bull in the house would be conducive to gardening, or yoga for that matter. Boy, are we happy we let Toby in. He’s the coolest dog I’ve ever seen, and what’s more, he’s a real eco-hero. I sat down with Chuck and asked about some of the ways he’s helped make Toby a green dog, and here is what I learned: Toby is a raw foodist. Chuck feeds Toby raw meat bones, such as turkey legs, turkey and chicken backs and turkey necks. He also asks the butcher for marrow bones. Chuck says marrow bones are cheap and nutritious; as for the raw meat bones, they’re not processed or heated, and there is no extra packaging or transportation necessary. I grew up hearing you can’t give a dog chicken or turkey bones, but in fact it’s only when meat is cooked that the bones become brittle. Raw bones are completely safe for an animal to chew, as they won’t splinter like cooked bones. Chuck has asked all of us at Yoga House to allow Toby to clean the food residue/waste from our dishes and recyclable containers. Most containers need to be rinsed out before recycling anyway, and we don’t have a garbage disposal in our sink, so when Toby cleans the plates before we wash them, it’s a win-win. Of course, use supervision with recyclable containers, or your dog might eat the plastic! Sticks, branches, grass and dirt are all normal for dogs to eat and chew on, and Chuck finds sticks and branches for Toby on every walk. Chewing branches and sticks promotes good oral hygiene and digestion. Just make sure it’s clean, meaning dirt from the earth only. I’ve never really known dogs that love eating vegetables, but Toby sure does. I have seen him refuse some veggies, but he can’t get enough of others, such as carrots and broccoli stalks. Chuck suggests seeing if you can start introducing more vegetables into your dog’s diet. He says it’s common for dogs to refuse veggies at first, so what he did with Toby initially was to do a quick stir fry with a little oil and a dash of salt or seasoning. Eventually, Toby started begging for carrots, apples, bananas, berries, squash or whatever else is good. Some dogs don’t like greens, so experiment and see what yours might enjoy. In the garden, you can use the old bowl water to keep plants alive. Spread the love and make sure to water according to the type of plant, but there’s no reason just to dump out your dog’s water bowl into the sink as long as there are plants that could use it. Now, about giving Fido a green makeover, Chuck says, “Dig, dig, dig, walk, walk, walk.” Keep your dog’s nails cut short and manageable; you shouldn’t need clippers or an expensive grooming bill. Besides, what better way is there to show love for a dog than taking him or her on long walks? Both digging and walking help calm the dog by reducing stress and releasing pent-up energy. Watch where you walk your dog, however, and always opt for dirt over concrete. Don’t let your dog run around on the concrete. Chuck says it can lead to injury, and later in life, bad arthritis and pain. Natural ground is always better for Fido than anything man made! Finally, Chuck advises to brown bag it! “Forget the plastic,” he says. “Use brown paper bags to pick up dog waste. It’s better for the earth, and your wallet.”
The Greenest Dog I Know
How a neighbor’s dog changed this writer’s perception on green pet care.