Claudia Kawczynska is The Bark's co-founder and Editor-in-Chief.
The Thoughts and Emotions of Our Fellow Creatures
February 13 2013
This enthralling book might change the way we perceive other species who share the planet with us. Animal Wise is a spinoff of a 2008 article the author wrote for National Geographic about how animals think.
As you read through Morell’s conversations with some of the top researchers in the biological sciences, you cannot help but feel slightly envious. How fortunate she was to have had an assignment that took her to (among other places) Kenya, Venezuela, Australia, England and Japan, and to spend time with scientists and their animals, plus learn about their field studies firsthand. We’re lucky that Morell is such an able and enthusiastic storyteller and can deftly interpret complicated theses and theories for us.
She explores what these researchers have discovered about the mental and emotional lives of animals ranging from ants and trout to parrots, elephants, dogs and many others. She went in search of the “minds of animals to better grasp how the other creatures around us perceive and understand the world.” Not, as others have done, to see how unique the human mind is, which we learn is not all that much.
The book opens with the smallest subjects, rock ants who use complicated social communication skills to teach other ants. Next up are fish, who also learn from one another. Amazingly, parrots each have their own names, and have “conversations” with flock friends. And, yes, rats laugh; elephants mourn; and fish, alas, feel pain (in fact, trout have 22 pain receptor cells on their heads alone). Morrell shares these findings, and many others, with a journalistic sense of having a front-row seat, and it makes for a compelling read.
February 8 2013
Whether you use it for baking treats, making pills more enticing, making a cool frozen treat*, Kong snuffing, or simply letting your dog lick a dab off your finger—dogs love their peanut butter. What better way to ensure that this delicious food is safe and nutritious than to make it yourself? It couldn’t be simpler to do.
Small Batch PB
Process until the PB is the desired consistency. It is important to note that PB goes through different stages: starting with a crushed “blob,” then to a paste with the consistency of a pie dough, and to a thicker paste before it finally becomes a creamy "butter." It can take around 3 minutes for the oils to be released so the "paste" can become a butter. When I first made PB I wasn’t aware of all the stages, so stopped at “thicker paste” which made it difficult to spread, even though the dogs didn't seem to mind! But only a minute or two more processing time results in a perfectly creamy peanut butter. Lesson here is to keep processing. If your blender or food processor gets too warm, turn it off, and let it cool, and continue processing. It seems like almost magic once you get to that buttery stage.
For crunchy style PB, chop up ¼ cup or so of peanuts, then using a spatula, add to the finished processed PB.
Use a cup of peanut butter, 1/2 mashed banana, mix with a little water. Put into ice cube trays (silicone ones work well). Freeze for a few hours. Dogs love these delicious lickings.
February 8 2013
Not that we need a holiday to remind us how much we cherish our dogs, but with St. Valentine’s Day fast approaching, it’s a good thing to ponder. Our newest dog, terrier-mix Charlie, whom we adopted about a year ago, has a lot going for him. As many of you may recall, we got him shortly after our 18-year-old terrier-mix Lenny died. I had grown quite attached to the sine qua non terrier nature and thought that young Charles had the same qualities as his predecessor—loyal to the core with an astute “on-ness.” But unlike Len, he also came with an overriding desire to “go to ground.” From his first night with us, sleeping next to me under the covers has been his preferred spot in the universe. It surprised me at first (plus, I feared he would suffocate!), but I quickly grew accustomed to our sleeping arrangement—it’s so endearing, and so him. The night starts with Charlie snuggled along my midsection, but by morning, he’s down at my feet (still under wraps). Does your dog sleep with you? In what fashion? Also, what do you find especially endearing about your dog?
Welcome to our new readers! The Winter ’12 issue was so popular that we sold out in mid-December, so this may be your first taste of The Bark. We kick off 2013 by putting the lid on winter and leaping into spring with zest. Julie Hecht helps us understand what all that barking is about; behaviorist Karen London explains why dogs have a fondness for novelty; and Rebecca Wallick talks to Ted Kerasote about his new book, Pukka’s Promise, in which he gives his prescription for longer-lived dogs. While we’re in agreement with much of what Ted says, we do take exception to a few of his positions, particularly his stance on spay/neuter. But debate is good, right?
John Woestendiek investigates the merging of human and veterinary medicine and the benefits that accrue to both species. We also look at the intersections between dogs and technology; as one amazing example, Emily Anthes interviews an orthopedic vet who creates prosthetic limbs. Plus, I whipped up a delectable treat recipe to share with you; there’s another episode of Lee Harrington’s “Chloe Chronicles,” in which Chloe has a marrowbone mishap (that’s also happened to our dog Lola, so definitely something to look out for); and Twig Mowatt reveals how forward-thinking shelters are making adoptions more accessible.
The Endpiece from none other than E. B. White, author of the classic Charlotte’s Web (among many others), is our valentine to you. In this timeless essay, which White wrote during WWII, he talks about his vegetable garden, urban chicken-raising and his irrepressible dog, all topics that are once again in vogue (though dogs have never gone out, thank goodness).
Now, another request. As some of you know, The Bark got its start 16 years ago as a newsletter, part of a campaign for off-leash dog parks that resulted in the establishment of a 17-acre OLA in Berkeley. We quickly expanded our publishing vision and today, Bark is the leading dog culture magazine in, yes, the world. But the subject of dog parks is still dear to my heart, and I’m itching to get back to it. Later this year, we hope to publish a comprehensive dog-park update, and I’d love to hear from you; please share your expertise, opinions and ideas. What do you think works best about the parks you visit, and what needs the most improvement—basically, what are the ingredients of a perfect dog park? Write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or join the conversation online at thebark.com/dogpark.
Finally, like many other magazines, we’ve been battling the skyrocketing costs of printing, postage, paper and even ink. So, in order to continue giving you a high-quality product and keep subscription rates the same, we’ve decided to print four issues instead of five this year. These will be supplemented with two very special extra digital editions, which, along with our current digital versions, will be free to subscribers. The digital issues have a lot more bells and whistles than their print cousins, and are easy to navigate too. As a reminder to those of you who prefer your magazines digital-only, we now offer that subscription option as well. So, whatever platform you choose—paper, laptop, tablet or smartphone—Bark will be there for you.
No matter how we come to you, our goal is the same: we want the time you spend with us to be engaging, informative and fun. Most of all, we aim to give you tools that will help you enhance your relationships with your dogs, so you can be there for them.
— Claudia Kawczynska
January 2 2013
Patti Page died on New Year’s Day at the age of 85. She was a pop singer in the 1950s (and beyond) and recorded modern classics like “Tennessee Waltz” and “How Much is That Doggie in the Window,” both of which became No. 1 hits. In 1999, after 51 years of performing, she won her first Grammy award and was planning on attending this year’s Grammy ceremony on Feb. 9 to accept a well-earned lifetime achievement award.
Patti Page reprised “How Much is That Doggie…” recently for the Humane Society of the United States for their Stop Puppy Mills campaign, this new version is much closer to our hearts, “Can You See That Doggie in the Shelter?”
December 30 2012
This year the Tournament of the Roses Parade (Jan. 1) will be showcasing a float with a theme near and dear to our hearts—“Follow The Stars—Adopt a Pet!” Be sure to watch this on New Year’s day, the float will appear in parade order 42. The float, sponsored by the Beverly Hills Pet Care Foundation is sure to be the parade’s favorite.
The pet float hopes to raise awareness of the millions of pets that are euthanized each year, and all the float’ s human participants have adopted pets and have dedicated themselves to improving the homeless pet problem.
Shelter animals from the Los Angeles Department of Animal Services, such as this one-year old Maltese mix, Bo Jangles, will ride on the float. The shelter animals will be joined by others like Uggie, the imitable Jack Russell Terrier dog actor from the Academy award winning film, The Artist—he had been rescued from the pound by animal trainer, Omar Von Muller. So he makes the perfect “spokesman” for this event.
Better still after the parade, The Pet Care Foundation will be sponsoring an event for animal shelters and pet rescue groups. The adoptable dogs on the float will all come for Los Angeles Animal Services and will be up for adoption immediately following the parade.
If you are in the area, do think of adopting a pet that day (or any day!), and definitely lend your cheers and tweets as the float drives by.
And for now, check out the coverage of the float prep from KTLA5
Dog's Life: Lifestyle
December 6 2012
A few months ago, one of our dog-park friends passed away unexpectedly while backpacking. Her two dogs — an older Husky and a young Jack Russell Terrier — were at home with their dog sitter at the time. There were no instructions or nearby relatives to help decide what to do with her dogs. Luckily, the Husky was quickly adopted by a friend, who had his sibling, but fi guring out what to do about Dexter, the JRT, was a little more of a challenge.
His immediate needs were met by his sitter, who was able to stay on with him for a while. Then another friend offered to foster (and possibly adopt) him. It didn’t take long for this friend, who already had four dogs, to realize that a very active, ball-loving, two-year-old terrier was a little too much for her. That’s when “Operation Rehome Dexter” — mounted by Dexter’s dog park “aunties” — went into high gear.
We crafted a charming bio and took great photos that displayed his sweet impishness. We posted him on FB, blogged about him, asked anyone who had a hankering for terriers if they had room for another. We struck gold when yet another friend who does rescue work offered to post him on Petfinder.com. Within minutes, we had our fi rst applicant, and more poured in for this eminently adoptable pup.
It was only a couple of days from the time we came together to find Dexter a home to the time we reviewed applications and made a date to meet Jody (the first applicant, who was looking for her first-ever dog). The meeting couldn’t have gone better. Jody loved him, and she had a good throwing arm! His aunties unanimously approved, and the match was made. He went to his new home the next day. But that was just the start.
This is where I think we hit upon something noteworthy. Altogether, our group had more than a century of dog “know-how” to offer a rookie, and, boy, were we eager to share it. Jody, perhaps sensing that she had no alternative, graciously accepted our coaching/mentoring offers. She upheld her end by asking many questions and providing us with updates on how she and Dexter were doing. For bonus points, she e-mailed us delightful photos. This made for a smoother transition into a new life-with-dog routine. I’m confident that she could have done it without us, but she said that knowing she could rely on us gave her signifi cant peace of mind.
Wouldn’t it be great if other dog adoptions, especially to first-timers, came with this sort of support? Kind of like Apple’s “genius bar,” people with experience could be called upon to provide useful, field-tested advice. Adopters would know they had a safety net, which could really reduce a shelter’s return rate.
Do any of you know of shelters who’ve developed this sort of auxiliary? Or might like to? We’re guessing that among our readers, there’s way more than a millennium of combined expertise. We need to come up with a method to put it to good use in our communities for the benefit of all the Dexters out there, and all the novice adopters who, with just a little coaching, could confi dently take them home
November 23 2012
It is a rare occasion when a popular singer/songwriter postpones an international tour to tend to a dying dog, but that is what Fiona Apple did earlier this week. It is so tender and speaks volumes for the kind of person Fiona Apple is. She posted an image of a hand-written note on her Facebook page, apologizing to her fans in Brazil, where she had been scheduled to perform. (See a transcript of it.)
Her dear Pit Bull, Janet, has Addison’s disease and has a tumor as well, and Fiona reported that she is close to death and that she simply couldn’t leave her, as she wrote, “If I go away again, I’m afraid she’ll die and I won’t have the honor of singing her to sleep, of escorting her out.” She also goes on to say that, “Janet has been the most consistent relationship of my adult life, and that is just a fact.”
She found Janet as a puppy in Echo Park in LA about 13 years ago. Saying she “will not be the woman who puts her career ahead of love and friendship,” Fiona said she intended to stay home and bake tilapia for her dog and give her comfort during her last days.
“I need to do my damnedest to be there for that,” she wrote. “Because it will be the most beautiful, the most intense, the most enriching experience of life I’ve ever known. When she dies.”
Our hearts go out to Fiona and we applaud her devotion to her dear Janet.
Hooked on No-Knead
November 22 2012
This past year I have discovered the joys of “fermentation” in the guise of yogurt-making and bread-baking. At the start of the year, I dusted off a yogurt maker that had been long forgotten at the back of the cupboard, and have been keeping all of us (including the dogs, who love it) supplied with this probiotic-loaded, highly nutritious food, you can find the directions to make your own here. I put a spoonful of it to top off the dogs’ meals, or let them lick it right off the spoon.
And, despite living in one of the country’s artisan-bakery hubs, it’s now been over a year since I’ve bought bread. And I must admit I always was a die-heart bread fanatic. So when I heard about the ease of baking your own bread that came via Jim Lahey from the Sullivan Street Bakery (NYC) and his able acolyte, Mark Bittman of the New York Times, I was intrigued.
With my very first loaf turning out great, I was hooked and have been busy baking our own whole wheat, country-style bread using his “no-knead” method, a trend (ahem) rising in kitchens everywhere.
For as long as I can recall, when it came to bread making, the need to knead was my downfall, so the idea of “no-knead” was an enticing come-on. I couldn’t be more thankful for what this simple recipe has given us. Not only does it fill the house with the nothing-better-than aroma of freshly baked bread, it also provides the crunchy delight of olive-oil-laced crouton snacks for our pups and abundant, tasty breadcrumbs for their turkey meatloaf.
Lahey’s basic white bread recipe, which started this craze, can be found here. But whole wheat bread is not only better for you, but one that I especially am fond of, so I was pleased to see that he also has a great cookbook, aptly titled, My Bread, that goes into detail about “pane integrale” whole wheat, rye and many other varieties. This recipe is so simple, not only is there no kneading, but you don’t have to “test’ the yeast, or punch down the rising loaf.
So I suggest that you view the video to learn about the basic technique, but recommend you try the whole wheat version first. The basic difference with the recipe for the white bread version (featured in the video) and the whole wheat (or rye) one is that instead of using 3 cups of bread flour, you use 2 cups of bread flour (be sure to use bread flour and not all-purpose) and 1 cup of whole wheat or rye. I’ve adapted the recipe slightly, so I combine 3 different flours—about 2/3 c of whole wheat, a couple of tablespoons of rye and topping it off with spelt flour (all 3 different types together equal one cup). I also add another tablespoon or so of water, to the 1 1/3 cups of water.
Whole Wheat bread recipe:
2 c bread flour
1 c whole wheat (or a mix of whole wheat, spelt, rye) flour
1 ¼ tsp. salt
½ tsp instant or active dry yeast
1 ⅓ c (plus a scant tbsp.) cool water
Put all dry ingredients into a medium sized mixing bowl, and using a wooden spoon or your hands, mix all the dry ingredients, making sure that the flours are well integrated. Then pour all the water into the bowl, not in one place but over the top of the flours to cover as much as you can. Then mix that it all with a spoon or your hands. That should take only 30 seconds or a minute or so. Cover the bowl with plastic and let rise for 12 to 18 hours at room temperature. It should double in size. (The warmer the room the less rising time, but 12 hours is always the minimum amount of time for the bread to ferment slowly—an important aspect of this recipe.)
After the dough has gone through that first rise, generously flour a surface (like a cutting board or counter top, use white flour for this) and your hands, and remove all the dough from the bowl. It might stick to the bowl, but be sure you get it all out in one piece. You can also use a plastic bowl scraper, but you want to remove all the dough in one piece. With your well-floured hands (to keep them from sticking to the dough), shape the dough by folding and refolding (a few times) and then forming it into a round form (it will be around 6 inches in diameter in a nice round ball form). Gently move the dough unto a well-floured tea towel (do NOT use terry cloth, and you can use cornmeal, or bran instead of flour), cover with either another tea towel or the edges of the towel. Let the dough rest for 1 to 2 hours in a draft free spot. The dough is ready for baking when, after a gentle poke with your finger, it leaves a slight impression. It if doesn’t, wait another 15 minutes and test it again.
Here’s the important part of what makes the magic of this simple baking method work—Lahey’s “oven within an oven” discovery. You will be baking the bread in either a heavy covered 4 ½ quart to 5 ½ quart pot, like an enameled cast-iron Dutch oven, or a 5-quart Lodge cast-iron pot. I like the clay ware La Cloche cooking bell best because I find it easier to place the dough loaf onto it, instead of “flinging” the loaf into a higher sided pot. It is very important that whatever pot you use, that pot stays covered during the preheating and the first part of the baking process. This is the "oven within the oven" trick created by Lahey and, as he describes it, “It accomplishes what classic domed brick ovens do: it completely seals in the baking process so the steam escaping from the bread can do its work to ensure a good crust and a most crumb.”
Half way through this second rise, preheat the oven to 475 degrees. To accommodate a large pot or a La Cloche you will probably need to remove all the racks from the over, except for one on the lower third portion that you’ll be using. I start the preheating ½ hour after the loaf was shaped, so even if it does take 2 hours for the dough to be ready, at least the oven and the pot are nice and hot.
When the dough is ready, carefully remove the pot from the oven, making sure not to place the pot on a cool surface (especially if using a La Cloche), remove the cover, then working quickly, gently flip the loaf over into the pot, so the “bottom” of the dough becomes the top of the loaf. You might have to flour your hands to do this, to avoid the dough sticking to your hands. Don't worry if the “bread,” at this point, looks flat and blob-like. Cover the pot, and again, working quickly, place it on the middle of the oven rack.
Bake for 30 mins., at 475 degrees, the first blast of heat causes the fermenting dough to become “bread” in what is called “over spring.” After 30 mins. remove the lid from the pot and bake the bread for another 10 to 20 minutes. At this point it will definitely look like a loaf of bread. The time depends on how hot your oven is, and how dark you like your crust. By this time your kitchen will be drenched in that lovely, fresh bread aroma, savor it as your loaf cooks.
Remove the loaf from the pot and cool on a rack—while it should be easy to remove it from the hot pot, you might need to use a spatula to gently pry it up from the bottom. I know it is irresistible, but do not cut into the loaf until it is fully cooled, it is still “finishing” the baking process even out of the oven. The bread is said to “sing” at this cooling period, but the “singing” is evidence of the last phase of cooking.
A couple of things to note about storing bread, never ever store it in plastic, it is best just to place the loaf, once you slice it, on the cut side down on an enamel plate. You can store it in a paper bag but do NOT seal it. Or you can use wax paper too.
Yeast: It is more affordable to buy it in bulk instead of in those little packets, so I’ve been buying the 16 oz instant yeast, “Saf Red instant” from King Arthur Flour—it is only $5.95 and that makes a lot of bread. This yeast is the one most recommended by bakers and it has never failed me.
I just bought my second one-pound purchase, the first one lasted almost a year. Make sure to store yeast in the refrigerator. I place a smaller amount into a little glass jar and then store the rest of the yeast in a larger container.
Bread flour: I use King Arthur’s but there are many other good ones—you must use bread flour, all-purpose does not have the protein content for bread.
Whole wheat flour: There are a few great brands, some of them from local millers. The hard red winter wheat flour (In California) from Community Grains is great, so too is the organic whole wheat high protein flour (made from Northern spring wheat) from Giusto’s Vita Grain. King Arthur Flour also has a good whole wheat flour but I urge you to see what your local milling companies have to offer. It really is quite the discovery to learn about how vibrant that sector has become.
Rye and Spelt flours: Arrowhead Mills, Bob’s Red Mill, Hodgson Mill also have good ones.
Even though “no-knead” was invented by Jim Lahey there are many others who have interpreted this method very successfully. I have also used the recipes from Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois’ Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day—I especially like their brioche. There are oh so many videos showing methods and recipes, including Breadtopia.com.
Just go to YouTube and search for “no knead bread,” you’ll be amazed at how many others have been baking bread, so hopefully this will inspire you to start baking your own. Send us photos when you do, would love to see your “loaves.”
Uses for leftover bread:
For croutons, I use whatever is left over as I bake the next loaf (I bake about 3 times a week), slice the bread into small cubes (or whatever size you prefer), place in a bowl and add olive oil mixing the oil well on all the cubes, then place on a cookie sheet and cook at around 350 for 15 to 30 mins.—the baking time depends on how crunchy you like them. I give them to the dogs for extra special treats, sometimes spreading a little homemade peanut butter on them. (I also just started to make peanut butter, another extremely simple thing to whip up.) For the bread crumbs, I heat up some day old (or older) bread, cut it into larger cubes, place in a blender or food processor, and pulse a few times until is the consistency you desire. Some people then bake the crumbs in the oven for a few minutes, but if you heat the bread first you don’t need to do that. You can freeze the bread crumbs if you aren’t going to use them soon.
If you don’t have a good bread knife you will soon be wanting to get one, I found that the Victorinox model 47547 works really great. You should be able to find one for less than $40 (considering that I was looking at knives arranging from $200 to $300, this great find, recommended by Chow, was a bargain).
November 20 2012
Tara, a trainer/dog walker in Red Deer, Alberta has come up with a good idea about ways to alert others about a dog who might need a little “space” from another dog on a leash. She calls it the Yellow Dog Project and founded this movement only a couple of months ago. As you know, there are many reasons why a leashed dog might require a safe distance from another dog—health and behavioral reasons, primarily. Our dear Lenny, a little Terrier mix who died last year at 19, was that kind of dog, he was reactive towards most other dogs. There were many times when a friendly dog would approach us and I would have to call out something like “my dog isn’t friendly,” most of the time the response would be “but my dog is friendly.” How much easier it would be if we all understood that a dog with a yellow ribbon or something in yellow on their leash, said it for us instead. So hooray to Tara—help her spread the word.
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