This is the treat I made for Sherman’s birthday. I decided to make him a cake because a first birthday should not go by uncelebrated, and I thought my spotted stink machine needed something extra special to mark the occasion. That said, I was not willing to give him “people” food or anything that is inappropriate for dogs, so I concocted a puppy-safe sort of meatloaf. His birthday should not be about him having a belly ache and then farting the night away. (He farted the night away, as usual, but there was no belly ache involved.)
You’re gonna need:
one regular size can of “solid” moist dog food (not the chunks in gravy kind)
overcooked white rice
plain quick rolled oats (not the kind in little breakfast pouches)
non-stick cooking spray
one medium potato
smooth peanut butter
random dog treats for decor purposes
I started by dumping the dog food into my mixer, since I’m still so battered from hand surgery that mixing this thing up by hand is impossible. Make sure you use the kind of dog food that looks like pâté, the stuff that goes, shloop, shloop, shlup, before you manage to actually shake it out of the can. I used Iams beef and rice, which isn’t a fabulous food, nutritionally speaking, but it’s what I could find at the grocery store. Let’s consider it the equivalent of a birthday Big Mac for the dog, shall we?
Toss the cooled rice in there, and aim for a quantity that’s about 1/4 the amount of the dog food. The more cooked the rice is, the better it should help to hold this whole mess together. Next, add a big handful of rolled oats and the egg. Since this is a pet “recipe,” I’ll cover all my bases by specifying that you should crack the egg into the bowl and use only the liquid inside parts in your pupcake.
Whoop those ingredients until you have a consistent mixture. Be forewarned that it won’t be pretty and the cat will almost certainly jump up on the counter and try to help himself to a sample.
Next, spray a your muffin tin(s) liberally. For Sherman, who is about 65 pounds with his collar on, I used my jumbo muffin tins, and it took about three quarters of the mess in my mixer to build my pupcake. If you wanted to, you could certainly use a regular or even mini muffin tin; I also think the cakes could be made and frozen without frosting. You’ll want to press it down firmly with a spatula, being sure to pack it tightly into the tin and then round the top. It is not going to rise at all, of course (in fact, it will lie there like last week’s roadkill) so you need to make sure it’s the shape you want before putting it into the oven.
This was all trial and error for me, since it was another make it up as I go procedure, but I found that cooking it at 300 degrees for about an hour worked nicely. I figured it was done when the top of the pupcake stopped squishing down under my finger, and I was right. If you make a smaller pupcake, you’ll need to adjust the cooking time appropriately.
While I was baking his birthday cake, Sherman and Stanley alternated between wrestling and discussing global warming in the living room. In spite of strong evidence to the contrary, Sherman insists that his intestines are not a significant source of methane in our neighbourhood.
After the pupcake was completely cool, it had firmed up even more and I could gently remove it from the muffin tin. The outside was a bit crunchy, which I think was necessary to hold the thing together, but the insides seemed nice and tender.
My kitchen and most of the house smelled wretched, unfortunately. You know how cooking bacon makes everything in your house smell like pork fat for a day or two? Everything here still has whiffs of the not-so-delicate aroma of baked whatever the heck parts of the cow are in Iams dog food. Blech.
I frosted the pupcake with a dog safe “icing,” which I made by beating the snot out of one peeled, boiled potato and about a tablespoon of peanut butter. I recommend using a plain (real) potato, and not powdered mix because the dehydrated stuff usually contains lots of extra salt and flavourings that are not ideal for your canine friend.
I did up the little meatloaf to look like a real cupcake like so:
The “candle” is a piece of puparoni dog treat, pressed deep into the center of the loaf to keep it stable. I cut a teardrop shape out of a thin slice of orange cheddar cheese, and a smaller teardrop from havarti. I stacked the white on the orange and then microwaved them for five seconds so I could squish them gently together. Using a sharp knife and my astounding ninja powers, I cut a slit to hold the cooled cheese and put the pieces together to complete the effect. The little round decorations are dried cheddar dog snacks, because if you’re going to go this far, you may as well do it right.
I’ll take this opportunity to state that Sherman is treated very well, and he is “spoiled” in the sense that he has lots of toys, is walked regularly, and lives a pretty cushy life for a hairy beast. Part of that for me, though, is that he has to hold up his end of the deal. There is no free lunch for the dog in this house; Sherman works for all his treats and tidbits, and he is expected to follow commands and stick to the rules, which is why you see him waiting to have his pupcake. He is trained now to the point where he will not touch his food until he’s given the okay to start eating about 95% of the time, which I consider sufficient for a one year old dog.
Please note that he turns himself inside out when company comes to the door 95% of the time right now, but we’re working on it. If you want to come by and help me desensitize Sherm to folks in the foyer, give me a shout. There is about 90 pounds of joy inside that 65 pound dog, and sometimes he bubbles over.
We decided to give him his treat outside because of the huge potential for mess. By some birthday miracle, there was a break in the rain and I got some decent photos.
Sherman is very comfortable with me around his food. He let me photograph the festivities up close, no zoom involved. I have trained him very carefully to avoid food and toy guarding behaviours. The poor yellow lab next door was beside himself watching the whole scene: he’s been on a diet and I think watching Sherman devour his pupcake was simply cruel to poor Casey.
Think about making this nice treat for your puppadoo sometime. Sherman gives would give it two thumbs up, if he had thumbs to extend.
copyright 2011: http://bluespeckledpup.com