Self Portrait in coloured pencil

Friday, 26 July 2019



I have been reading a new article about dogs dying young of cardiomyopathy when they are fed on grain-free dog food so I want to add my tuppence worth. 

First let me tell you about the portrait of Jasper above. It was done in 2011 the summer before Bryn came to live with us. It is drawn in Derwent drawing pencils in black, white and touches of other colours on grey Canson Mi-Teintes paper. I gave the portrait to Jasper’s biggest fan, my friend Annette. 

To get back to the issue of grain-free dog food: Jasper has a severe problem with both rice and corn. 
Rice gives him such bad diarrhoea that he quickly becomes severely dehydrated. Corn gives him the added symptom of blood in his diarrhoea. And no. He has no problem with gluten. He can eat wheat or rye without any trouble as long as there’s no rice or corn mixed in. 
The trouble with ordinary dog food with grain is that they don’t specify which grains are in the ingredients so Jasper has to have grain-free food to keep him safe. 

However I choose a food with a high animal protein content. 

Many grain-free foods are high in legume types of protein including beans, peas and chickpeas. I learned at school that peas don’t have all the amino acids essential for animal life in the protein. Grains have missing amino acids too but they are different ones. I remember my teacher telling me that if I eat my beans on toast I would get all the amino acids I need. 
So clearly a dog food with peas but no grain is going to leave the dog with malnutrition. 

I have to watch out though. I had been buying one brand for a while and they brought out a more expensive recipe and I bought a couple of bags. (I had 2 dogs and there was a reduction in price for buying 2 at once.) I didn’t think to check the ingredients until both Jasper and Bryn seemed less well than they were. It had a lot of pea in it. I quickly ordered the cheaper stuff and, once the dogs were well again, I admit that I added small quantities of the expensive stuff to the regular food so it wouldn’t go to waste. 

Bryn was a cross breed Irish wolfhound. Irish wolfhounds tend to have a genetic heart problem and die suddenly with no symptoms when they are about 6 years old. I think it is a form of cardiomyopathy. Well Bryn was 15 years old when she died, so clearly a grain-free dog food with high animal protein content didn’t do her any harm at all. Jasper is 11 now and you wouldn’t believe it to look at him. 
He is a bit depressed since Bryn died and is clearly looking for a new girlfriend. I am getting him a little girl puppy. I am depending on him to teach her how to make friends with everyone she meets like he does. He taught Bryn.

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