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Whole raw sardines are amongst our easiest raw meals, fed with very little prep at the House of Two Bows. I used to get them from the grocery store in frozen bags or bundles of 8 or 16, where each fish consistently weighed two ounces. Lately, I’ve only been able to obtain larger sardines, averaging 4 ~ 5 ounces apiece, which is a very workable size.

These are the nutrition facts for 100 grams (3.527 ounces) of raw, whole sardines:

Ignore the % Daily Values, as the calculations are based on a human, 2000 Calorie diet. For her ideal size and activity level, Bowpi’s recommended daily intake is about 500 ~ 600 calories, while Bowdu needs over 700 calories. However, I don’t bother counting calories for myself, let alone my dogs. Instead, I measure out their food by weight or volume, and adjust as necessary. When fed raw meats, Bowpi typically gets 4 oz. at dinnertime, and Bowdu gets 5 oz.

According to the nutrition information, I could stand to give them much more than a single 4 oz. sardine to make a meal with adequate caloric content. Seems I could even give them each two sardines, if it wasn’t for the fat? I usually offer a side of pumpkin or sweet potato, mixed with various supplements.

GotMercury.org lists sardines as a low hazard fish for mercury content, calculated at 0.016 ppm. We don’t feed raw fish more than twice a week.

Bowdu and Bowpi are always fed separately, since Bowdu eats much faster and would chase Bowpi off her share if he wasn’t obstructed or restrained. Usually, Bowdu gets his meal in the kitchen, and Bowpi gets hers behind a closed door in my study room. As part of their twice-daily mealtime ritual, Bowdu will wait outside of Bowpi’s closed door until she’s done eating. She signals her completion by jumping up on the futon and licking herself (the Basenji version of tidying up after a meal, like a cat), at which point I’ll allow Bowdu into the room to conduct a final inspection of her dish to confirm that she didn’t leave anything behind. Only then will he relax, knowing there are no more edibles at stake.

14 September 2011. A scrap of partly-frozen ostrich bone as a treat, not a meal.

It’s a little different with raw meals. Bowdu is still given his share in his bowl, in the kitchen, but he will immediately pluck out his raw, meaty bone and head directly to the backyard, which is perfect and mess-free. Bowpi is served in my study room, on a towel because she will drag her meat out of the bowl and plop it down on the floor. And if she is not monitored, she will drag it up onto the futon or off the towel, so someone has to be around to watch her eat.

For me, it is a pleasure to watch and hear her eat her raw meals. She is a careful, methodic chewer, as graceful as one can be when tearing at a hunk of flesh and crunching bone. But yes, it is kind of a chore to babysit her meal for the sake of sanitation, which is something that the Doggy Daddy apparently had no patience for when I was out of town last month.

Instead, he sent both dogs into the backyard, leashed up Bowdu while he let Bowpi drag her leash, and fed them both out there. It’s a system that worked out pretty well for him since he only wanted to deal with raw sardines, a fairly efficient meal, and none of the poultry that I often mix into the menu.

Fierce gnawing
13 September 2011

I still prefer to feed Bowpi on towels in my room, especially as nightfall approaches earlier at year’s wane (too dark for dinner). But the DD’s system allowed me to finally get pictures of Bowpi feeding outdoors, in natural light, as it’s difficult to capture her rapid movements any other way.


Photographing Bowdu is also a matter of speed because he finishes his fish in about four quick chomps. Like Bowpi, Bowdu also prefers to start with the head. (Apologies to anyone who’s easily squicked…) After he finishes, he’ll quietly watch Bowpi consume her dinner, after which she’ll trot straight indoors. Then we release him, he rushes over to snort her patch of fishgut-splattered grass, and finding not so much as a fin with which to floss his teeth, he resigns himself to the sad fact that dinner is over!