Your canine pal will dig these homemade treats
The dog days of summer — such as they are in the Northwest — are coming, and so is St. Dominic’s feast day, Aug. 8. At Blessed Sacrament Parish in Seattle, the friars will celebrate with a solemn Mass in the Dominican rite.
When I think of St. Dominic, I marvel at the gifts he left us: the rosary he is said to have received from the Virgin Mary, the order he founded and the fight against Albigensian heretics. But as a dog lover, I am also caught up in how a hound came to be associated with the iconography and art of the Spanish saint who lived from 1170–1221.
The story goes like this: When Dominic’s mother was pregnant with him, she had a dream that a pup leapt from her womb. It carried a torch in its mouth as if to set the world on fire. The dog became an enduring symbol for the order Dominic founded, the Order of Preachers.
In Latin, they were known as Dominicanus. Friars from other orders, however, made a pun on the word, calling them Domini canis, or “dogs of the Lord.” The good-natured Dominicans turned the joke around and said they were indeed “watchdogs for the Lord.”
All this made me remember a 12-inch statue of St. Dominic in my living room. I looked at it for the first time in years. The artist included a dog that looks like my rescued chocolate Labrador, a torch next to the pooch and a rosary on the belt of the saint’s habit. As I examined the statue, my dog, Abby, nudged me. She wanted a walk and then a treat. With the dog at my side and the statue in my hands, I had an idea: I would make dog biscuits and so continue my thoughts about St. Dominic.
I smiled and thought of the bumper sticker that says, “Please, God, let me be the person my dog thinks I am.” Then I put my own twist on it: “Please, God, help me be the person you want me to be, by praying the rosary and meditating on St. Dominic.”
Abby’s St. Dominic dog biscuits
• 1 cup peanut butter (no salt, no sugar)
• 1 egg
• 1/2 cup oats
• 1 carrot, shredded
• 1/4 cup wheat germ
• 1/2 cup nonfat milk
• 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
• 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
• 1 cup whole-wheat flour, plus more for rolling out the dough
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, or lightly grease a baking pan.
Cream the peanut butter and egg until the mixture is light and fluffy. Slowly add the oats, carrot and wheat germ. Mix thoroughly, adding the milk slowly.
Sift together the baking powder, cinnamon and whole-wheat flour.
Add dry ingredients to the peanut butter mix until you have a consistency like dense cookie dough. Knead the mix and shape it into a ball.
Refrigerate for 15 minutes. Divide the dough in half, then roll each half to about 1/4-inch thickness.
Using cookie cutters, cut out the treats and place them carefully on the parchment.
Bake for about 15 minutes, but check before that. Let the treats sit for about five minutes, then move them with a spatula to finish cooling on a rack. The cookies should be crunchy. Store them in a sealed container.
This recipe makes about three dozen treats, depending on the size of the cookie cutters. I had cutters that made small dog paws and fire hydrants, and larger ones that made bones and hearts.
If your dog has allergies, you might want to check the ingredients with your veterinarian. I checked with mine, and Abby got the go-ahead for the homemade treats.
Janet Cleaveland is a member of Holy Redeemer Parish in Vancouver.
Northwest Catholic - July/August 2014
Janet Cleaveland is a member of the Proto-Cathedral of St. James the Greater in Vancouver.