1. What motivated you to write a book of nutritious recipes for dogs?
Over the years I've had a number of rescued dogs with digestive issues. Currently, two of my pets have problems, in particular, Angel, who had a brutal start in life and was nearly starved to death. Although she's now a very healthy and happy seven-year-old, two bouts of pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas that prevents the digestion of fat and can be deadly) and allergy problems require that she maintains a strict diet regimen, which translates to "boring." The vast majority of commercial pet foods and treats contain gluten (a protein found in wheat, barley and rye) and tend to be high in fat, so a large percentage of my dogs' diet has always been homemade. The idea for "Dogtails and Pupcakes" sprang from the Cocktail and Cupcake enthusiasm for people. It occurred to me that I could create nutritious and delicious doggy versions that would also be easy and fun, and it worked.
2. How did you come up with the recipes, and how did you test them?
Creating the recipes was tons of fun. I spent a lot of time researching "safe" foods for dogs and then matched ingredients that I thought would work well together. Mixing the drinks is as easy as shaking up or blending a cocktail for yourself. The pupcakes took a little more effort to perfect because some of the ingredients--meat, for instance--are not the sort of thing you'd normally use in a cupcake.
Anyway, my "kids" (Angel, Vinny and Coco) along with several of their pooch pals had a wonderful time as taste-testers. Their number one dogtail pick was the Angel's Kiss--yogurt, peanut butter, carob and vanilla--and there were several favorite pupcakes including Droolin' On a Sunday Afternoon and You Can't Lick It, made with cheddar cheese, beef, and carrot.
I should mention here that some of the pupcake recipes in The BARKtender's Guide... are made with wheat. However, if your pup is gluten free, the flour can simply be substituted.
3. Why don't more people cook for their pets, rather than relying on store-bought foods?
Many of us don't even cook for ourselves, let alone our pets. We lead busy, sometimes hectic lives and the fast food mentality has become part of our culture. Sadly, I must say. Because it takes only a little time and effort to prepare simple foods that are much healthier and tastier than any pre-packaged items you buy off the shelf, and meal preparation is a great time for ALL the family (people and pets) to bond. When I make pupcakes, somehow the dogs just know it's for them, and they line up in the kitchen to "oversee" operations. And when I pull the first batch from the oven, they are beside themselves with joy and anticipation. It makes me laugh every time.
4. As an author, how do you strike a balance between sharing (how-to) information and offering humor to your readers?
Hmm. I've never thought in those terms. I simply love to laugh, and I like to share the humor. And people are far more likely to pay attention to something that gives them a chuckle or two than to read through a boring tome or listen to a dull speech. I actually give talks on lessons you can learn from your dog with subjects like "How to take the ball and run with it" and "How to sniff out the possibilities," and humor is a big part of that.
5. Have you utilized The BARKtender's Guide... to help support pet rescue?
Yes! A portion of all sales is donated to pet rescue. I have a couple of "pet" (ha ha) charities; however, I am always willing to consider partnering with pet-affiliated groups and companies to help them raise awareness or funds for their business or cause.