When Ray moved in with us, the outlines of his ribs were visible if we looked hard. That is not to say that he had not been treated well by OMHS*, but more likely at least partially the result of his anxiety issues.
He was originally pretty much afraid of anything that moved and, while in his pen awaiting adoption, had to be medicated due to his obvious discomfort with people constantly going passed and staring at him. Being in close proximity to numerous other dogs, some of which would be regularly barking, would not have helped his stress level. Also, at the time that we adopted him, he was losing his winter coat quite prolifically so we could probably see more than would have normally been possible. Finally, as if all that was not enough, we would soon find out that he had Stage 2 Heartworm.
While he was settling into his new environment, we were learning what he does and does not like so that his food choices could be established, and it became obvious very fast that he likes pretty much anything!
We did some experimentation with healthy snacks which could support his regular meals, and which could also be training incentives! He loved carrots (later limited due to an obvious issue with processing them)! He loved pieces of apple and banana! He loved Kale and Romaine lettuce stems! He loved celery! He loved raw broccoli stems (we limited those as they were a little anti-social)……….. but the biggest surprise we had was after Carol had googled dog friendly vegetables and produced Rutabaga as a possibility. Rutabaga was particularly interesting because it had claims to being very good at cleaning teeth.
During the next shopping trip for groceries, a Rutabaga was duly purchased and taken home. They are not the easiest of vegetables to cut but, with a strong and sharp knife, the deed was done and we had a number of pieces of Rutabaga just waiting for Ray. Anybody who is contemplating trying this is reminded that Rutabaga is often sprayed with a waxy coating prior to shipping. It therefore needs to be peeled before offering it for consumption!
We could have never imagined his reaction when presented with a piece. He was delighted! He took it from us and started chomping away. Chomping was a good sign because he had a history of inhaling food (rarely chewed) so we had to be careful what we gave him however, he was clearly working hard and loving every moment. He became extremely animated as his chewing action was quite aggressive, probably out of necessity, such that it was possible to see muscle activity all over his head. He gave us a fascinating display of muscles in action, and they were ones that we did not normally notice!
Ray makes us smile whenever he is eating Rutabaga because he clearly “throws himself” into the task and looks so happy at that time. As for his teeth? We give full marks to Rutabaga. What could be better than a treat which he loves; which makes him work; which has no additives; which has no unpronounceable ingredients; which is very economical and (bonus) helps to keep his teeth clean.
Praise the lowly Rutabaga!
*Oakville & Milton Humane Society