Maisy Pancakes is a thirteen-year-old boxer/lab (?) mix who lives in Minneapolis with her female human, me. We met at our local Humane Society when she was about 10 months old (who knows), when I dropped in “just to see.” You know how that goes. She was mostly rusty brown with a white star on the chest and little milk dips on just a couple of her hind toes, and now, she’s got lots of sweet gray on her face and body. People say she looks like she’s wearing a mask! Her tail is thick and strong, kind of like a turkey neck. It hurts when it swings around and hits people and her own eyes.
MP is overall hilarious and such a good sport. Even if she thinks something sucks, she really will try her best. Aside from those awesome qualities, she is exactly how I would be if I were to remove every inhibition from my being. MP communicates better with humans than with other dogs, and I think I’m pretty much better with dogs than with humans, too. I’m basically a less exciting, not such a good sport version of her.
Me:As MP’s human, my primary role is to make her food. Pretty much every day, and these days, three times a day. I’m obviously underemployed and don’t get out much. 😉 I’m your typical co-op shopping, small local farms researching, buying club joining, CSA subscribing, whole grassfed cow buying, chest freezer loving, “organic isn’t enough” ranting, reusable utensils carrying, social services and goodwill believing, ACLU supporting, bleed rainbows kind of girl. Being from Tokyo from a whole another time, I wasn’t always this way, and people used to mistake me as a Republican! Haha. Four years at a small liberal arts college bubble in the rural tundra of Minnesota will set you straight. Social responsibility, y’all!†
When I’m not fixing MP’s meals, I run a little design house with my partner, Anthony (aka Piz), called BNDH. We help small cool businesses develop their brand, and do lots of stuff in both ink and pixels, driven by a whole lot of thinkin’ power. I’m also a painter/illustrator—most of my stuff is funny animals (they are usually pooping) and pet portraits. Since I’m Japanese and all, my other “real” work is linguistic and cross-cultural consulting, mostly for ad agencies.
**Possibly Boring Alert! Below is how I got into dog food.** I first started learning about making “dog food” as soon as I felt weird about feeding her the same store-bought, packaged food every day…even though I researched the foods extensively and was buying high quality stuff. Since I was already interested in food and holistic wellness, it seemed like I could be doing the same with MP. So, off I went to an appointment with the animal nutritionist at the University and asked a bunch of questions. The jist of it all was that it’s best to feed whole foods, especially organic, but nutrients are nutrients and it doesn’t ultimately matter if you get it from a pill + sawdust or from a carrot. I do appreciate that kind of thought because it simplifies things quite a bit. But, I honestly don’t think of nutrients as just isolates—I think you need the whole carrot, not just the beta carotene. So, I began looking elsewhere for more info.
Thanks to the internets, I ended up joining the most awesome group of dog nerds who, collectively, are perhaps the most knowledgeable and kind bunch of folks regarding anything dog-related—be it nutrition or behavior or some weird tick borne illness or the best harness for deep-chested dogs. With lots of help from my online dog friends, I filled my spreadsheets and stocked the dog library and started making MP’s food. My philosophy for making MP’s food is to balance the diet according to what we know that a dog needs (e.g., NRC 2006, yo); it’s not ideal to just throw a whole bunch of leftovers and whatevers together and call it a day. I do have a neurotic thing that kicks in once in a while, so I’ve amassed a dizzying array of recipes and custom food items plugged in at nutritiondata.com, and the kitchen scale I use everyday is so precise that it is a totally suitable device for drug dealers those in the saffron business! 😉 All this diet balancing is kind of a pain in the ass, and I can see why it would scare some people. My first suggestion for anyone who is getting started is to check out Monica Segal’s books or recipe booklets to get a grasp on WTF it’s all about, and if you want an actual animal nutritionist to formulate a custom diet for your dog’s specific needs, I’d recommend none other than my dear friend-mentor Sabine at BetterDogCare.com! Once you get going, though, you’ll get a hang of it, and really chill out about the “balance over time” thing. I try to balance over a week, but a lot of times it takes me two weeks to get it right.
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