For me, the essence of life is taking a breath and knowing in that instant, the world is part of me and that I am part of it. It is about partaking in all aspects of life that give me existence — it is about being fully present in a moment and knowing in that moment that I am alive and part of something greater.
My blog is a bit of a journal, I suppose, or more accurately a chronicle of my journey as I live and taste life’s passions predominantly captured or experienced through ‘food’ writ large, writing, and photography. In the beginning, these three forms of experience and expression came together as I created new recipes, photographed them, and wrote about the inspiration and the steps, but this has always been much more than a recipe blog, much more than a food blog, and so its not surprising that recipes have taken more of a back-burner to my writing here (though I still am creating at home) and food has become as much a metaphor for what drives me rather than the substance of these pages. As such, today, this is a blog about me and my journey through life. It is a blog about LOVE.
… and not all of the points along the way in this journey are filled with pleasure. There is sadness in these pages as well. There is love aplenty too. When I started this blog, Benjamin or “Ben,” as he was to the world, was still with me. As you’ll read in these pages, Ben was much more than a “dog” and he stayed with me for 18+plus years before he passed away on October 15, 2014. Ben was my muse for a very long time and while this is no more a dog-blog than it is a food-blog, Ben is and will remain a part of it. He was my miracle dog and I am the miracle of his life.
Ben’s greatest miracle was preparing me both to see and for Jessica … the most amazing love of my life.
And so as all things evolve, as does the world, as does our life, so too does this blog. Example of this: in 2020, just before the global pandemic struck, we welcome Leo in our hearts and family. His introduction will both find its way into these pages and shape so much more in what may be subtle changes in perspective and emotions.
As such, I invite you to join me on my adventure as I share with you my evolution as I live and taste life’s passions.
About Me …
“Where are you from, Dale?”
I am often asked. It’s an important question to me and in the pages of this blog. I have been so much defined by “place,” in large part because I’ve been and lived many places. The question of “origin” is not the same as “belonging” and the question of “identity” is somewhere in between.
I was born and raised in Kelowna, British Columbia (BC), which is in Western Canada and about 4000km from Ottawa (where I now live). Many of us are defined by the places we’ve lived and visited, and BC will forever be a part of who I am. Until the age of 18, I had lived almost my whole life in one place and house. I had always been filled with the same wanderlust that consumed George Bailey in It’s a Wonderful Life, but when I left home that year, change entered my life and I would thereafter never be afraid of change again. Travel and moving became a part of adult life and how I’ve engaged the world … and it enters into every part of my life and all that I share. Over the years, I’d live by oceans (twice) and at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains and in Canada’s North (as in the Arctic). I’d live in five different time zones and on three different continents, including Asia and Europe. I’d learn what it is like to be different … and what it is to be Canadian and, more than that, what it is to be human and part of something bigger than a nation.
What are my influences?
My travels have given me a life that I have lived and it gave me, Ben, who taught me more than most people along the way. Travel and place and the natural world inform my cooking, my writing, and all of my photography. I was certainly very well-read before I went abroad, but it was my travels that matured me. It filled me with empathy — and I would even offer that filled me with “humanity.” It taught me humility and it gave me lessons in gratitude. And it has given me a richness of perspective and experience that often finds its way into my work. And over the past year and a half, the two strongest influences in my life are Jessica, my wife, and her son — now my son — Elijah whose life is now part of mine … and whom I in turn am getting a chance to influence as well. And finally, there is Leo who like all the other significant ‘people’ in my life, shapes my perspective. Each offers me the gift of seeing the world from another perspective and fills me with richness.
Now, and since 2003, I live in Ottawa which is where I have put down roots, made home, and continue to grow, learn … experience and discover the passions of life.
I welcome you to my blog, a glimpse of life through my eyes and a glimpse into me as I live and taste life’s passions.
Thank you! Thank you! Thank you Dale! Your pages have been a warmth and kindness to me! Another welter of tears and heaving sighs eased ever so slightly, but ever so blessedly by your words. By your story. A legacy of richness from Ben too whom I never knew; though feel I did.
I tap here with trembling fingers, my soul loose, awash; pain and sadness curdling. Tears heaving heavy swells to burst bottomless caverns. Red, raw and the sickly bloat of nausea. Throat tight. Aching. Breathe lost to stabbing sobs. My friend, my pal, my courage and constancy has gone. After 18 years together. All those mornings waking up to you, coming home to you, evenings with you there, times of trouble with you there, lonely moments not so lonely with you there, hardships softened with you there, the looks, the knowing me and me knowing you. A universe, a lifetime of moments and meaning. Lupey. God bless you my little companion. I will come and find you when I die.
Ah — your pain definitely reminds me of my own wound. I’m sorry for your loss of Lupey but am glad you found some solace in my own words and stories. In these times, camaraderie is about the best salve there is, knowing you’re not alone, knowing others have walked those paths and felt those pains before, someone who can listen, who perhaps understands, and most importantly just accepts and doesn’t judge. Visit anytime you need and I hope you find supports close to you as well. Loving big means a big loss. Thanks for your sharing your words and feelings and please do take care.
Fodina Yiangou says
Hi there our Vinny is a chihuahua he’s 9 and has start of kidney disease & heart disease. he’s on the edge with KD. He’s has pancreatitis so the Vet has advised to start him on Royal Canin gastrointestinal low fat diet for now then review in 3m. We are concerned this diet will make his KD worse. Any advice guidance will be greatly appreciated thank you
Hi Fodina — I apologize, but I can’t really advise you more than what I have shared here and others have shared. I’m not a vet nor able to provide medical advice, let alone contradict the advice you’ve been given. Sorry.
Patricia Tremblay says
Thanks for all your work on this.
My 10 year old wheaten had an extensive dental procedure recently with 15 extractions. She is also in early stages of protein losing neuropathy common in the breed. She did well with canned renal diet food for about a week post dental then I started adding kibble and she did well for about a week then refused to eat for almost a week
I have been feeding her the basic diet of yours for 2 days and she loves it. She is taking about 3/4 cup in the evening. She is 28 pounds
How many calories can you guesstimate is in a cup of this food
Hi Patricia — Sounds like you have definitely had a difficult few weeks and I’m sorry for all the stress you’ve undoubtedly been going through … and your girl as well. I’m glad the diet is proving therapeutic for her and giving her and you both comfort. I can’t answer your question about calories, I’m sorry. I’m sure you could put it into most diet calculators, even those intended for humans on diets, and come up with a rough count, but I won’t hazard guess as I’m sure I’d be wrong. Best of luck and hope she continues to eat it and do well. Take care.
Hello, my name is Chris. I just wanted to say thank you for your writing about Ben. It is an amazing story and he sounds like a most loving friend. But, I know that doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of what he meant to you. I am truly sorry for what you have had to endure. I know that even though some time has passed, there is still something there that pulls at your heart when you think of your time with him. There always will be. Recently, my dog Stella, a devoted companion of 16 years, was diagnosed with early stage kidney failure. I don’t need to describe to you how this feels. In the last two years, I have walked with one of my dogs as he battled, and overcame, osteosarcoma only to succumb to hemangiosarcoma after a brave 9 month struggle. Another was diagnosed with perianal-carcinoma and is currently beating the disease. Now my dog, Stella, is facing a daunting challenge with her renal disorder. I suppose this is what happens when all of your dogs grow old at the same time. Like you, I immediately set about the task of researching everything in order to prepare for the battle that lies ahead. Tonight, I was looking for information and came across your page. As I read on, your description of Ben and what he meant to you forced me to let go for a few minutes and just break down. I have been in a mode I suppose most go through when facing these things, the one in which you only allow yourself to entertain thoughts of hope and determination. The one in which you convince yourself that you and your baby are going to be the outliers and find a way to pull off a miracle. But, this evening, I let down my guard and just wept. For all the things that my dog means to me and for all the things she has done to make me a better person. As you spoke about the sound of Ben’s paws in the floor or just knowing he was close behind you wherever you went, I was comforted to know that I am not alone in thinking these very things when it comes to my dog. I cannot imagine the day when those little gifts are no longer there. I think it is this thought that, above all, brought me to tears. I have never had anyone in my life as devoted as this girl has been to me. That is why I will fight for her until the end. I apologize for the length of this comment. It was only supposed to be a brief thank you. So, I will end by saying just that. Thank you for your words about Ben. They helped me. He is still having an impact on this world. Best regards.
Thank you my anonymous friend. I have received many many many comments and thanks over the years, and I’m grateful and touched by all of them and feel exceptionally fortunate to have made an impact in this world. Sometimes it feels imagined, but real or imagined, it does my heart a lifetime of good to receive messages and especially a profoundly personal, deep and moving message such as yours. Thank you for the gift. Beautiful thinks happen when we’re honest and vulnerable — it’s hard to imagine, but if I can honour words and gift with that, it would be to say that I believe your own vulnerability in not sharing, but in feeling and ‘breaking down’ will undoubtedly have a beautiful impact on your own life and those around you … and perhaps even Stella for whom it is clear you share a special bond and memory already. I’m glad you have seen it and have had this chance to celebrate it with her. Take good care and may your heart stay strong through all of which lies ahead. Thank you again. ~ Dale
Beth Pitcher says
I have 2 shelties, one of whom at age 10.5 has not yet been diagnosed with kidney disease. She’s being followed by our vet every few months. The only test that seems to stand out at the moment is specific gravity in that her urine (first of the day after no drinking since 6:30 p.m. the night before) is more diluted than we’d like to see. Do you think that your recipe would work as a preventive? I see that most Comments are about dogs who have already been diagnosed. My dogs were fed Orijen for most of their early years (grain-free beef) but eventually, and after much trial and error, we figured out that our boy (almost 10) can’t tolerate any food with pea flour or legumes. Nearly every commercial dog food contains that cheap protein source. We suspect both dogs don’t tolerate chicken either. We do not want to consider any prescription diet. Just reading the ingredients turned us off. Our vet, at the moment, is being very considerate. I researched, much as you did which is why I was attracted to your site), and we’ve been feeding both dogs The Honest Kitchen (dehydrated raw food which is then rehydrated) grain-free beef and they immediately improved. No more G.I. issues, perfect stools every time. I did find out the phosphorus level in the food (I was able to get every other breakdown except that so called them.) but I was going to ask the vet about whether it was low enough. At the moment, we’re just monitoring her very closely. This is why I wondered about whether your diet would work as a prophylactic rather than waiting until the Dx was definite. One more specific question: What oil do you use for frying the egg whites? Would coconut oil work since you also list it as a main ingredient?
Thank you very much for everything you’re doing for our furry family members.
Hi Beth — I can certainly relate to you, your journey and your decisions very well. To your main question about using this as a prophylactic, it’s a good question, but I honestly don’t know. The difference between this recipe and this blog vs. that of Hills or Royal Canine is that this recipe isn’t lab tested or peer reviewed and hasn’t gone through the clinical trial process that we’re all becoming increasingly literate about watching the production of covid vaccines. And truthfully, it really would depend on what is leading to the excess drinking. It might very well not be kidney issues. In my previous Ben, it was Cushing’s disease that led the pee problems. The kidney issues were end of life and I have no idea if they were related in the end. So simple answer: maybe/it depends. As for your question about the frying of the egg whites: Step 6 starts with the beef fat, then add a tablespoon of coconut oil, then fry. You’re very welcome. I wish I could do more, I admit, but life is definitely very busy with covid and our 9-month old puppy, Leo. Take care yourselves.
hi. i’m here to thank you for posting about the dog food recipe too. i was given two more years with my bestie after his kidney failure diagnosis. after he refused the canned k/d diet (and no wonder. it smelled terrible ?) i started making your recipe for him. thrived for well over a year on it. his name was newt and i had to say goodbye to him this week. thank you for your research and for cherishing the love of your dog. ??
I’m very sorry for your loss, Lori, but thank you for taking the time to share your thanks here and your story. I’m sorry for my lateness in reply and I’m sure you’re still very much feeling the loss. I’m glad and very heartened that this recipe gave you two very precious years with your bestie. I know it means the world and yet likely never will feel enough either. Hold onto that love in your heart, now more than ever, and stay well through these very difficult global times.
Jodie West says
I want to thank you for sharing your experience with Ben. I found your blog accidentally while searching homemade canine diet for renal disease which our Leo is suffering with. Leo is a delight and the center of my husband’s world and I will do whatever I can for them because I understand that love. For me it came with the name Sam and passed in 2010 and no matter how many Leo’s, Max’s, Diesel’s and other paws who followed Sam will forever be paramount. Nevertheless, we continue to love and foster. Thank you for sharing your writing. I’m wandering through the blog.
Btw- Cooked up our first batch and both Leo and Max approved. Hopefully Leo will improve. Thanks again! Stay safe!
Thank you Jodie. Stay safe and well yourself. Best of luck to you and your pack.
Alicia Magee says
Dale, I have been able to see dog spirits since I was a child. Ben is right there with you. At the moment you were most sad it is because he was reaching out to you and you then thought of him deeply and that he was gone. When they pass they feel so much better and stand up and come immediately to us because they feel a little light and “floaty” and need some comfort. For several days they linger by our shoulders before they feel confident in controlling themselves and learning to move in the “air”. So then they simply go about their day. A more confident dog may launch itself right out into running around the house. You may be able to get photos of him. I have several photos of dog spirits sent to me by a young couple who lost a beloved dog also to kidney disease. I don’t see a way to attach them here so you can email me. They look exactly the same except “see through”. The photog used a Nikon Coolpix P80, flash OFF, after sundown (very important) in regular room light from incandescent bulbs or other. One dog was found after being dead for five years. I purchased the same camera but did not get the same results as my dogs ran from cameras. I have lost several since I rescue elderly dogs. Each has entered the body of another dog that I have or get and it begins to do their behaviors. One of my pups could see the other that had died and would growl and look at the doorway when he came into the room. They seem to have their own light and the Nikon camera seems to gather light very well with the flash off. Sunlight causes trouble for all spirits so it must be down. I hope you contact me for the photos. What a great diet you developed. Looking forward to corresponding soon. I have a Master’s Degree in Business and manage real estate rentals.
Hi Alicia –Thank you for the comment and sharing your experiences. It is comforting to know the spirits of these amazing creatures stay close. I don’t personally feel a need for photos — I feel Ben close all the time. His memory and spirit is intertwined with mine and will always be with me, I know. While I carry him, speak to his name, and visit his tree, I nonetheless have found it in me to open my heart to “Leo” who now needs me. I am grateful our hearts can absorb others and expand in this universe. Thank you for your kind words, thoughts, and reaching out. ~ Dale
Looks like plenty of people have done this already, but I also want to thank you for publishing your story about Ben and his kidney disease. We had a Greyhound named Greg who was diagnosed with CKD in mid-2014 and were able to keep his values stable until the end of 2018 when he passed away rather suddenly. We think a stroke is what got him, not the kidney disease. He was almost 14, so not bad for a dog of his size! Your story inspired me to try homemade food, which our boy loved, especially after refusing the prescription foods our vet wanted him on. The last years of his life were full of happiness and good eats right up until his last day. Also, I have to give a shout-out to your hometown of Kelowna – I was just up there visiting my grandma last June – its a beautiful place, as is all of BC from what I can tell.
Hi Iain — Such a great and kind message. Thank you. It’s often more than a bit unreal to ‘meet’ and cross paths with so many people here. I know it’s ultimately the point of a blog, but each message still takes me aback to think I’ve connected with someone through one or more of my pages. Thank you. I’m glad you found inspiration and got some special years with Greg. It really is what’s all about. Thank you for sharing that here. And, yes, Kelowna and BC are glorious beyond words, so glad you got to experience the as well. Ultimately, you’re more than welcome. I’m thankful that putting a little something out there has produced so many happy lives and memories for families and dogs. It’s emotional but feels good to read your stories. Thank you again for sharing and best of care to you in this turbulent times.
Rosemary Nalden says
I wanted you to know that my little rescue dog Poppy was diagnosed with kidney disease just before Christmas. Poppy has had more that her fair share of illness since I rescued her. I don’t know how old she is, but she’s old! I brought her home from the vet after the diagnosis and it was very clear that she was not interested in the special food I order every month, nor in the veterinary special kidney diet. I googled and found your blog. Since the first batch I made she has perked up unrecognizably and is eating every day – with great enthusiasm! Your feelings about Ben resonated very much with mine about Poppy. I love her deeply and almost irrationally! So thank you for the diet, and all you have written …. and by the way my vet has now said he would like to know the details of the food to give to other owners of dogs with kidney disease! Rosemary – in South Africa
Dear Rosemary — Thank you for such a sweet and uplifting message which is born out of your own hurt and challenge. Thank you for taking the time to share while you continue on your own journey with Poppy. It is certainly a very encouraging thing to read about vets and other healthcare professionals seeing their own value and hope in a recipe that change lives of both dogs and those who love them. Thank you again for sharing and wishing you only the very best in your months ahead with Poppy. ~ Dale
I discovered your blog while researching foods to feed my 15 year old chihuahua,Caesar who was recently diagnosed with kidney failure. He was put on a prescription diet food by his vet which he’s been ok with so far but I wanted to learn more about this awful disease and ways to make eating a more enjoyable experience for him.
First let me say how sorry I am for your loss of Ben. Caesar is also my best friend and has been by my side through some very difficult times in my life. He has always been the brightest part of my every day and I’m unable to imagine my life without him. However, I’m determined to make his last days the best they can be and I have you to thank in part for that! Your article was so informative, well written, and easy to understand. It took away much of the confusion I had and gave me paths to research on my own. Caesar and I both thank you from the bottom of our hearts for the time and effort you put into helping others faced with this crisis!
God Bless You!
Hi Michelle — Your comment is very kind and a beautiful thing to read this morning. Thank you I’m truly sorry that you find yourself on this path now as well, but I do hope, as you write, that what you have found here on my blog provides you a measure of hope and a few kernels to formulate a plan that gets you and Caesar to the finish line safely and with your hearts in tact. It sounds like you are approaching this situation in the best way possible and I do wish you the best in the days, weeks and months ahead — and a Merry Christmas. May they all be beautiful. ~ Dale
Hi Dale, I found your blog looking for recipes to make my Maltese. One of her kidneys is stopped functioning and is turning into scar tissue and the other has been diagnosed w kidney disease. Was told to put my dog in a low phosphorus diet. But that’s not as simple as it seems. Been doing lots of research and I found your blog super informative. Thank you!
Question for you. Do you not recommend organic white chicken or lean turkey? Why lean red meat? Or pork and fish? I’m trying to understand what’s best for my dog. Thank you so much! Michele
Hi Michele — I’m very that your dog has found herself in this medical situation and need. It was in my experience a deeply emotional development to navigate and I was also grateful for any information that helped in my awareness. A layman’s understanding of the disease and options led me to look at the phosphorus levels of different proteins which varied by cut as well. Dark meats on fowl we’re generally lower in phosphorus. There are a few links in my blog to lists that you can use but a Google search of ingredients by phosphorus levels will answer any specific questions you might have as you make your own choices. And, yes, organic would be a better choice in the ingredients you choose — but don’t choose something just because it is organic … the phosphorus levels are still the key. Hope this helps and best of luck to you.
I found your blog while searching for home cooked diet for a dog with both a heart condition and kidney problems. “Lucy” is our 13 year old Australian Cattle Dog. My wife and I call her our Earth Angel and we love her intensely. She was diagnosed with a leaky heart valve a year ago and in February our vet gave her two months to live. She is still around although we believe the 3 heart meds she was taking eventually made her sick to the point of not eating. She is still very weak but has a will. She wags her tail and still wants to go with our other two dogs on a daily walk. I also should mention that she is a special needs dog that we rescued. She is on the Autism spectrum which yes does exist in some dogs. She is the sweetest dog in the world and trusts my wife and I but few others.
I spent a couple of hours today creating your well researched recipe for “Ben” and I hoped that Lucy would be interested. I am thrilled to report she really liked it and I hope this will help provide the kind of nourishment she really needs.
Thank you. Thank you. You are a good man for sharing your love of your lifelong companion and this valuable recipe. We are Illinois residents but also have a summer home in Ontario. If ever traveling in either area you are invited for a dinner and a glass of wine.
I wish you all the best and maybe we will cross paths one day. BTW, my wife and I both work in film and photography and I love to cook so I know we have quite a bit in common. Best wishes to you.
Dear Rino — and best wishes to your wife and to Lucy as well. Thank you for your kind-hearted gratitude and offer. Lucy sounds like a very special companion who has had a few challenging years. I’m sorry for her and you and can well relate on many levels the impact this is leaving in your life. I’m very glad that the recipe has found a paw’s up from her and that it is also giving you a bit of comfort in the process. I do hope it continues and brings you a “second wind” to your relationship. There is really no way to measure the value of those extra days — but I know from my own experience the joy and weight that was lifted when I watched Ben eat a full meal and saw that sparkle in his eyes. Cherish those sparkles, Rino, and may they fill your life with light forever.
I am a very grateful man for the fulfillment this blog has brought me. I am not really sure what I ever expected when I started it 5 years ago, but I’m quite sure it wasn’t this … but I know in my heart, that this is really what “it’s all about”: sharing passions and experiences, of putting oneself ‘out there, and, in the process, forming connections with kindred spirits (truly) far and wide. I certainly have been lucky. Contrary to so much wrong and bleak in this world, these are the moments that are so right. Thank you in return.
I have only ever been to Chicago in your big state — a truly beautiful city. But certainly, it would be pleasure to connect if our paths should cross. Indeed, I often wonder at the “people” (not just the names and email addresses) that I exchange with here and wonder who you all, your stories and lives that I’m sure are all quite different and yet, here we are, commonly connected by something I’m sure none of us imagined until it hit us with a visit to a vet. Certainly, drop me a note here (or email: firstname.lastname@example.org) if you’re ever in the Ottawa area as well. Take care and all the best to you on the road ahead. ~ Dale
Maria Adela Sorzio says
Hi Dale. I have just found ur blog searching for some homemade recipe for dogs with kiddney failure.
I will prepare ur recipe tomorrow for a friend of mine who is not having a good time at all and refuses to eat most of the time.
I will let u know how it goes.
Thanks for sharing the info.
Sorry for your loss.
María from Argentina.
A pleasure to meet a reader from such a long way away …. Thank you for your kind words and support. I hope the recipe brings you much success as well.
I was unable to post under the “phosphorous thread” anymore so I would like to express my deepest gratitude for your kindness and your most wonderful blog that has brought immense comfort to me. We often tell others that you cannot understand how I feel but I know you do.
For 2 over years I was pre-griefing, but when the time came it was way more than I could imagine and I ended up seeing the doctor because my body shut down completely and I was unable to eat for about 2 weeks. Ultimately, it was old age and yes the runway has ran out of track.
The positive side of losing one’s pet is we learn so much from them and we learn to live each day the best we can just like them. We remember every single miniscule detail about them.
I had a very difficult and trying time and more often than not found myself just wandering your blog. I must tell you that your blog has given me a source of strength 2 over years ago and till now so thank you for your kind words. You didn’t have to but you did.
If ever you visit Singapore, I would be happy to buy you a couple of beers. Take care now!
Hi Nicolette — It’s been wonderful to connect with you here over the past two years as you have travelled your difficult journey. There is no question that Swift could have asked for no better companion himself to accompany him down the final length of his runway and there is, as I say, nothing more brutal than letting them go at the end … no matter how ‘right’ it is, it is a powerful punch to the stomach and our souls. It is, as a result, no wonder you lost your appetite but I’m glad you continue to reach out and get support where and when you can. It is an impossible journey alone … all the more so because for many of us, our furry companions would have normally and otherwise accompanied us on all the other moments of loss we endure. We come to depend on them as much as they on us … and to lose them and then be alone would seem a double whammy times a million.
Over the two years you yourself have touched me often with your kind and supportive comments. I’m very glad that these pages have been a source of strength and perspective for you and that my own sharing has somehow provided you a way forward. The tragedy of the world teaches me more than anything that it our capacity to help others that underlies our truest and most beautiful part of our humanity. I think that is one of the gifts Ben gave me as he became so desperately dependent and needy of me over his final years — he showed me my own humanity. So have you and so many other here — So thank you for bringing me in close to you on your very personal and intimate path you followed and fought with Swift … and for giving me a chance to show my humanity as well.
… it would be an honour share a couple beers with you one day. I have only ever heard wonderful things about your country and I hope that one day I have a chance to see it for myself and meet another kind soul.
Take care yourself.
Once again thank you from the bottom of my heart. You deserve nothing more than happiness and a wonderful life.
We welcome you anytime into our sunny island. Lots of beer, food that surely can find its way to your blog!
Please write me should you ever visit and I’m sure one day, we will meet up.
Ps. I still stalk your blog now and then for more inspiration!
You should get these published in a book, they are so thought provoking.
Thank you Jan — do you mean the questions and ideas about place/identity that I toy with here? I do know that concepts of place and identity have been written about by many so I don’t suspect my ideas are likely novel here, but it is always an interesting exploration to think of such concepts in relation to our/selves. That is definitely been my own quest in these pages — to think less in theoretical and abstract terms but instead to consider such complex ideas as they relate to my own self and experiences. I’m flattered that you or anyone think there is anything publishable in these words or pages, though. I do have a big writing project on the go … if I can just dedicate myself to actually working on it every day and making some more serious progress, perhaps one day sooner than not I will have something meaningful in print.
Susan Raskin says
Thank you Dale for your blog and for researching and posting your Low Phosphorus Dog Food recipe. I’m so sorry that you lost your Ben. My 15 year old Yorkie, Taj, was just diagnosed with kidney disease and I’m very grateful to have come upon your blog. I explored other recipe options and yours is the only one I’ve found that’s complete, that I’m satisfied with, and that my boy would find tasty. I went right out and purchased the ingredients and cooked a batch for him. He loves it and I can see right away that he’s a happier boy. I’ve only had him on it for 2 days now- he seems to be a little constipated, maybe from the amount of white rice and/or the change in diet- so I’ve added a bit of fiber supplement to the mix, at least temporarily.
A question about the pearl barley: How much of it would I use for this recipe?
Also, do you have any thoughts about mixing grains, or using couscous or tapioca? Is the amount of grain in this recipe approximately 600 calories worth or how did you figure out the amount of grain?
Thanks so much again. I’m very appreciate of any comments you can offer.
All the best to you!!
Hi Susan and thank you for your very kind note. My apologies for the delay, but I’ve just recently returned from vacation. To answer your question re: the pearl barley, it is an equal substitution (i.e. 2 cups dry). As for other grains, a high-level search would suggest they are are good substitutes but I didn’t cross reference them as it relates to their other micro nutrients, so suggest you do that as well. That said, varying the grains wouldn’t be a bad idea to introduce variety. Couscous would certainly be a good choice and I know that I used other ‘pasta’ versions with Ben as well which he loved. Here’s a nifty website for getting nutritional info on ingredients, including calorie counts: . White rice is definitely higher in calories … but that’s a good thing in this case. We put too much (negative) attention as a society on that single metric. Again, variety would be good and perhaps consider more boiled sweet potato as well (high in soluable fibre) in a few batches (and, again, rotate, as sweet potato does have phosphorus).
Wishing you and Taj the best as you explore this diet and find something that works for him. Take care.
As you mention at the end of instructions for low phosphorus recipe that it might need some seasoning but try not to use salt. The ingredients are superb but finished product is a little bland. I tasted it and salt would be good, I think. My 14 1/2 Yorkie is a picky eater and ate it at first but then not too much. Do you have an idea of what I might add other than garlic and salt; maybe a topping that would entice Sam to eat it more often. I so do want him to eat this recipe. I will not stop trying.
Thank you and my heartfelt condolences for your loss.
Hi Janice. I know and feel your quandary. It was mine as well. It’s why I carefully weighed my options and bit the proverbial bullet and added the salt and garlic. It’s why the parsley is there too. Other options would be a bit hot sauce if she likes that sort of thing– or make it bit more Italian with some tomato sauce and perhaps even a bit of dried oregano and basil. I know Ben loved Italian inspired food too. ? Hope this helps and gets you a bit closer. Failing that, you’re likely going to cheat with something which in the end is still a humane and living choice. Wishing you the best.
Kim Keenum says
In the trying to get through your blog on Ben. My 7 year old Rufus was just diagnosed today and I found you by searching for low phosphorus recipes. Thank you for blogging them. I’ll update on how Rufus likes your recipe when I make it for him.
Best of luck to you and Rufus. Definitely, let us know how things go with him and strength to you as you set upon this difficult path.
Keyra Vaillancourt says
Just wanted to say thank you for the low phosphorus food recipe for renal disease. Just found out my 14 1/2 year old black lab /border collie mix (Murdock) has renal disease. Looked at the ingredients on the food for renal disease and did not like what I saw. So I decided to look on line for a natural food to help him. Made the food today and he loved it. Not too sure how long he has had the disease but he has had some of the signs for some time. I do understand how you felt about Ben….total unconditional love.
Thank you Keyra. It’s great to meet other kindred spirits who are likewise devoted to their dogs. Wishing you continued success with he diet and all the best to you and Murdock.
Ryan Campbell says
Hi Dale. I found your recipe for low-phosphorus food for dogs who are in renal failure while doing my own research for my three year old Golden Retriever London, who is in late-stage renal failure herself. I was wondering, regarding Ben, at what age did you discover he was in renal failure and began feeding him your special recipe? My wife and I have tried using all the major-brand renal foods from Purina, Hills, Iams and Royal Canine, both wet and dry, with London with varying success but more and more she is refusing to eat. Thank you for posting your own recipe. You clearly did a lot of research and I appreciate your sharing it with us.
Hi Ryan and Happy New Year to you. With respect to your questions … it is a difficult battle, to be sure. In retrospect and looking at older pictures of Ben, I think he was showing signs of renal failure (wasting) when he was 17 … but the actual diagnosis came about a month before his 18th birthday. Thanks for the kind words and comment. Wishing you all the best in your own journey. It’s a difficult one, to say the least ….
Liz Zimbalist says
Dale, I was looking for a home made kidney diet for my dog Tara when I came across your lovely words about Ben. I am so sorry for the loss of your precious boy. I shed many a tear reading your heartfelt words. They brought back all my memories of my sweet girl Lola who we lost to Cushing’s last Christmas. Tara is now battling kidney problems and I know that the time to say goodbye to her is creeping ever closer. I wish you well and thank you for your lovely memories of Ben. Best regards Liz & Tara (Northern Ireland)
Thanks for the welcome I’m glad I looked at your WPC or I wouldn’t have found out about Ben. What an amazing story about a man and his dog. I can’t wait to dive into your blog, you write about things I love like food, and photography, and faithfulness (Ben). Blessings to you Dale.
Thank you Sharon for your very kind comment. Ben largely made me the man I am and gave me a story to write. It means a tremendous lot that others are moved by it and have shared their comments. Thank you. I hope you enjoy the rest of the blog as well and I look forward to exploring your own creations myself. Blessings to you too. Thank you again. 🙂
Thank you for sharing your story and recipe for supporting Ben as he progressed through his renal failure. I am going through this right now with my 13 year old Maltese Timmy. Blessings to you my friend as you can see the reflection of love in his eyes for you…..a treasure I’m sure you hold dear in your heart, I accept where things are going with my Tim and know ultimately time is coming to a close. Until the day I can help him cross I want to do everything I can to support where his body, mind and spirit are at. Your recipe is exactly what I have been looking for to keep him nourished until that time. thank you for all your hard work and research.
Thank you Patrice. You’re very welcome. It means so much to me that these words and stories are able to help you and others through similar challenges. The love Ben and I shared was truly reflected as you say and fills my heart greatly these many months later. I hope the recipe provides Tim with exactly the nourishment you seek and he needs and that as a result you get these same beautiful days with your own big guy. Warm wishes to you as well. ~ Dale
Hey there Dale!
You have been challenged! Should you choose to accept, of course..
I will most happily accept: it’s a topic near and dear to my heart. I’ll let you know once I’m done. 🙂
Hopefully it complements your own thoughtful and optimistic lines ….
Challenge completed: http://wp.me/p5jJaH-1Y9
I wish I had read your beer posts, but I started with Ben and now I can’t read about beer … 🙁 I have an older dog and reading about Ben made me so sad. But tomorrow is a new day, and I shall read about beer then!
Awww … I can so truly relate. I couldn’t read or watch anything about dogs and their passing for years leading up to Ben’s own passing. Just the thought of losing him brought tears to my eyes and heaviness to my heart. I had no idea it would be even harder than I imagined in the end. Thank you for stopping by and I hope you find joy in these pages as well … the beer is a great place to look. 🙂
I found your blog while searching for the best diet for my dog Janus, a Lhasa Apso mix I found running along a major road two years ago. He has high BUN and elevated creatinine levels. I have been reading your posts about Benjamin. I’m sorry for your loss. I hope in time you will bless another dog with your loving care.
You have a wonderful blog. Keep it up!
Thank you Rosanna though I’m sorry that you’ve found my blog because of the health challenges of your Janus. I hope that you find advice and solutions for him and you that bring you many more great memories. Thank you for your kind words about both Benjamin and my loss of him. Right now I’m immersing myself in writing “our” story and his incredible life … but I’m hopeful that when I’ve completed this journey that I will in fact be ready for another special friend and love.
I appreciate your kind words about EatsWritesShoots — you have a great and very rich blog yourself which I’m sure inspires and blesses many writers. I look forward to exploring your pages. Thank you again for not only stopping to visit but for taking the time to comment. All the best.
Great post. Thank you so much for visiting my blog. 😀
Thank you Cate. I appreciate your kind words and support.
Ottawa? Brrrrrr…. You should have stayed in beautiful BC. Nothing wrong with hedonism if you include coffee. Keep shooting!
I appreciate the smiles. 🙂 In all seriousness, cold is truly a matter of perspective. After living two years in Canada’s sub-arctic and experiencing -70C (without any wind), I promised myself and the world I would never again complain of the cold. And truthfully I was never more cold than my year in China because of the then poor heating conditions (and lack thereof). I do miss BC when I’m not there, but it finds its way into my photos often including my recent “Twinkling Tongue” … and, yes, I can promise you that I have the same feeling about coffee as you. 😉
Looking forward to more eating, writing and photography! Three of my favourite things…
Thank you, Alex. That’s great to hear and I’m happy to continue to keep you intrigued and interested. I don’t have your Spider-Boy for inspiration — but I’ll keep looking for my own and hope you enjoy the process. Thanks for taking an interest in what’s happening in my own blog. Great work on your end as well. Looking forward to seeing where it takes you too….
What do you know? I was born and raised in Ottawa, and now I live in BC!
Thank you for stopping by, Matthew. I’m not sure what reaction you get in your change of location, but I’m continually reminded that I’m like a salmon swimming upstream while everyone is swimming towards the Delta. BC will always be a “home” in my heart and I miss it … but Ottawa is very much home as well, and I love coming home here when I leave. Two beautiful parts of this amazing country.
thank you for following my blog! happy that you like it 🙂 what an interesting blog you have ! for sure will be back here 🙂
Thank you. You’re welcome. You have certainly put Siena on my map. 🙂 I’m glad you found my own space interesting. Welcome any time.
thank you 🙂
We have lives in reverse whereby I grew up in southern Ontario and have now lived in Kelowna for the past 16 years with stints in Calgary and Newfoundland in between. I am glad to have found your blog and discovered the parallels.
I too found the parallels in reading about your own discovery … and the profound role that your trip to Greece played in that for you. It’s a country that I truly adore and it along with Mediterranean food and culture in general are probably the largest influences in my own cooking philosophy. I tried to comment on your blog about your article on but don’t think I was able to easily navigate posting a comment without a Google/blogspot account. All the more reason I’m very thankful for the effort I’m sure it took for you to comment here. Thank you.
Thanks for visiting my blog… otherwise, I wouldn’t have found yours. Fascinating life you’ve led (and excellent beer reviews, by the way). I was wondering if you had any interest in participating in my blog. If so, please drop me an email.
Thank you for stopping by and your own kind words as well. I do find your project interesting and reading the different contributions from people. I’m glad you like the beer reviews … they’re not for everyone, I know, but they seem to resonate with a niche group of people. I’ll definitely follow up with you about your project and happy to learn more.
carol vaughn says
I am writing to thank you for your research and information on kidney disease in dogs — and send my condolences for your
loss of Ben. He was adorable, and I’m sure you still feel his absence.
I am a writer living in Costa Rica, surrounded by nature and beauty, but with limited access to sophisticated veterinarian
care. I have used your diet with my terrier “Sketchie” for two weeks now, and am seeing some improvement. We caught
it in its beginning stages, gratefully, and since special canned dog food does not exist where I live, your recipe and notes
were a gift from above. Thanks!
Sketchie eats your recipe with great enthusiasm, which I think will hasten her improvement. Her vet specializes in large
animals, so we are both following your guidelines, and hoping for the best. Finding your information online was like
Christmas in Costa Rica!!
Hi Carol — and hello to you all the way to Costa Rica. Wow!
Thank you for your comment and your kind condolences. There is indeed still very much a large hole in my heart that completely belongs to Ben, but as with any grief, it isn’t about forgetting or “getting over” as much as it is “getting used” to the hole and coming to accept the loss as a permanent part of life.
Thank you also for sharing your success with the diet and here’s very much hoping that Sketchie continues to respond and improve. I’m amazing, truly amazed, how this recipe is helping people in all parts of the world. It is a very humbling experience to read all your stories of places I’ve not even visited (but are on my wish list!) and all the great many dogs who are struggling and yet many are surviving and improving with the help of it. What great stories.
I hope you have many more days with Sketchie that are indeed like many more Christmases to be celebrated. Thanks again for your very kind contribution to Ben’s story. ~ Dale