Bon appetit

Farm Forum

My mother, in her old age, wasn’t too keen on anything that wasn’t old.

“They,” whomever that is, didn’t make bread to taste like it did when she was young. “They” didn’t grow corn like in the old days. And clothes weren’t as warm as they used to be.

I once remarked that I had to take our dog to the veterinarian for shots. My mother remarked: “Shots? Shots? Well they sure don’t make dogs like they used to.”

A few years later when I told her our cat was sick, she of the barn cat era asked, “Well, what’s the matter with today’s cats anyway?”

I was reminded of my mother’s admonitions the other day in the super market walking down a long, odorous aisle of dog foods.

There were all kinds. Some was designed for young dogs and some for old. Some cleaned urinary tracts and others cleaned teeth or solved the problem of bad breath. Another that caught my eye was in a box with a picture of strips of what looked like bacon on it.

The box even contained little plastic tongs for lifting the bacon-like strips from the box to the bowl. Dogs wouldn’t know a strip of bacon from a banana peel.

There was a time when dogs ate what people didn’t. Millions of hounds survived swimmingly on what were called “plate scrappin’s,” which included everything from fatty glumps teased off Sunday’s roast beef to pork chop bones, potato peelings and creamed corn.

Some dogs even survived on leftover boiled peas, steam carrots and the string that held the ring of balogna shut. We gave our dog dessert, like the harden crumbs from the empty cake pan, burned pop corn, stumpy birthday cake candles and the cupcake paper after we ate the cupcakes.

He thought he was in hog heaven.

I can’t recall the first time somebody got the idea to go into the commercial dog food business. In the beginning, grocery stores refused to carry dog food. You got it from the feed or hardware store.

After that, someone came up with the idea of packaged dog food laced with vitamins and minerals and all the other healthy stuff that makes dogs better at slobbering on human faces, chasing cars and baying at the moon.

What this new-fangled dog food was, I suspect, was the left-over cereal grains and floor sweepings from the Purina breakfast food plant somewhere. A graduate of a fancy-dan business college at the company figured out how to moisten it and force it through extruders so it came out in sausage-like lengths.

It wasn’t long before extruder designs were making food that looked like gopher legs and tire-flattened squirrels. Later, the makers of dog food could even produce cereal and what-have-you that looked like little pork chops or T-bone steaks.

Of course, you and I know that this fancy-looking stuff wasn’t made so the dog would eat it. It was made so pet owners would buy it. Most dogs I know wouldn’t bat an eye making a meal of decaying hog liver or the carcass of a winter-killed carp washed up on shore.

After all, dogs today aren’t that much different than they were in my mother’s time.

But after viewing the long grocery store aisle of dog food, I guess they sure aren’t making pet owners like they used to, as my Mother would say.

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