Sunday, May 10, 2009

Organic Dog Walkers

Clouds threatened rain on Saturday morning, but they didn't deliver any, so I was able to add another mile or so in my minor ambition this spring to walk all of the Busse Woods Trail System at one time or another (see April 19). More serious rain clouds, along with angry growling thunder, had nixed my attempt on May 1. The threat of rain on the 8th seemed to have scared off a lot of cyclists, but not walkers and joggers, from the path. That made for a more pleasant walk.

At one point, I walked past a group of women, one of whom was pushing stroller, while a couple of others walked dogs. As we passed, I caught exactly one sentence of their conversation: "So we decided to buy only organic dog food..."

That gave me something to think about. Of course it's a whole subset of the pet-food industry. I spent time wondering what might go into organic dog food. Would that mean something similar to what wild African dogs eat? Ungulates, in other words. But somehow I doubt there's much impala in Newman's Own. In fact, Newman's Own FAQs says, "the food is 95% USDA Certified Organic and contain[es] free-range beef from Uruguay," which sounds like it might make some good burgers for the grill.

Domestic dogs haven't eaten a wild-dog diet in millennia, anyway. As camp followers, they must have spent a lot of time eating scraps, which would be arguably be "organic" in a pre-industrial context, if not always healthful. Mainly, though, it meant eating whatever people didn't want. But progress has been made since then, at least for First World dogs. What with all the opportunities for people to project their food insecurities on dogs, you might even call now the golden age of dog food, with varieties unimaginable even to the most aristocratic dogs of yore, say Henry VIII's hounds. Good stuff, too, seemingly fit for chic cocktail parties of the human variety.

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