It’s hard to believe it has been a whole year since we said goodbye to our dear friend Charlie and more than two years since we lost our boy Henry. Both were devoted companions who were by our sides through some of the best, most memorable years of our lives. Charlie witnessed our engagement, and both were around for our wedding, moves, and the birth of our three children. Today, in honor of them, I’m sharing my top secret dog treat recipe from back when I had my own company baking and selling all natural dog treats made with fruits and veggies from my husband’s produce market. But first, here’s a little more about the dogs who inspired these healthy homemade biscuits.
Charlie lived a long and happy life relentlessly chasing his tennis ball and was happiest when swimming in rivers, lakes and streams. Yet he also struggled through paralysis of his hind legs and having to learn how to walk again. He never fully regained his spirit. Dementia later caused his quality of life to deteriorate and eventually we had to make the very difficult choice to let him go. He was 11 years old.
Henry’s life was full of love for both his best friend Charlie and his babies (our children). He was a gentle giant who loved to rest his head on Charlie’s back, lay next to the kids and would even sit down on a stranger’s lap. Henry was taken much too young and very quickly at only the age of 7 when his liver suddenly failed. He was gone in just one very difficult evening.
I miss them every day. I had lost pets growing up, but never those that I had raised as their mommy. Sometimes I still think I hear their little sounds in the house. Especially at night when the kids have gone to bed and everything is quiet. They are gone from this world, but our four-legged friends live on in our memories.
‘CHARLIE’S MARKET’ DOG SNACKS
Some friends know that back when Elizabeth was a baby I started a company called Charlie’s Market(TM). What can I say, I’m a hopeless wannabe entrepreneur. I created recipes for dog treats using the fresh fruits and vegetables from my husband’s produce market and baked them right in my own kitchen. I started by selling them at local farmers markets and eventually began selling them to Heinen’s, a local grocery store, and other small pet supply stores and veterinarian’s offices. At the time there were few other dog food companies including fruits and vegetables in their products. Now you’ll see many of them touting the benefits of fruits and vegetables for dogs.
I couldn’t keep up with the demand baking them on my own, especially while very pregnant with Caroline, so I hired an employee to handle the baking offsite. After Caroline was born, I towed her along to some events and on sales calls. I remember one event where she sat in her carseat for hours smiling and watching me sell products and then I would take breaks every now and then to go nurse her in my car. It all became overwhelming. Not to mention, the dog food industry is a very competitive and crowded market and I felt a little as though I was David fighting Goliath. I would either need to set up a commercial kitchen to handle the baking or spend day and night in my own kitchen, which I obviously couldn’t manage with a new baby and a 21-month-old. The smart and easy choice was to focus on my real job as mother of two. So that’s what I did.
Today, in honor of my friends Charlie and Henry and to keep their memory alive, I am sharing with you one of my secret recipes for my Charlie’s Market(TM) Dog Snacks made with fresh fruits and vegetables. They are quite simple to make and use all real food ingredients that are delicious and nutritious for your pets. When you make them I hope you will think of my boys. I’m certain today they are together running through the fields and swimming in the rivers of heaven.
‘BERRY BLEND’ DOG TREAT RECIPE
1/8 cup peanut butter (crunchy)
1/8 cup peanut oil
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup oat bran
3 cups oat flour
1 cup berry puree (1/2 cup each of strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries pureed in a blender)
Combine honey, peanut butter, peanut oil and water in a small saucepan. Heat and stir until it comes to a simmer, then remove from heat. Stir in the rolled oats and oat bran and pour into the bowl of an electric mixer. Add in fruit or veggie puree then slowly add oat flour and mix until stiff. Roll out dough on floured surface and use cookie cutters to cut out individual biscuits. Place on baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes then flip and cook 5 to 10 minutes more until biscuits are crispy.