Monday, November 30, 2015

Yam and Sweet Potato Dog Chews

Easy DIY Dog Treats

Yam and sweet potato chews are healthy, nutritious, grain-free treats for your dog.  Although you can buy sweet potato chews (see below), they are expensive to buy and making them yourself is easy and inexpensive.

(Disclosure:  I am an Amazon Associate and may earn a commission if you purchase something through the above link.)

How to Make Yam or Sweet Potato Chews

I usually make a big batch of yam and sweet potato jerky around the Thanksgiving and Christmas Holidays when they tend to be readily available and on sale.  For this batch I used three large yams, but the process is exactly the same whether you use sweet potatoes or yams.

Washing yams

First I rinse the yams in water to wash off any surface dirt and then dry them off.

Yams sliced in half 
Since yams can be hard and difficult to cut, I find it easier and safer to cut them in half first.  Then I cut off any bad spots and turn them flat side down on the cutting board to prevent them from rolling around when I slice them.

Slicing yams lengthwise
Since my dogs are medium to large and are very enthusiastic chewers, I like to make big yam jerky strips by cutting them length-wise about 1/4 inch thick.  No, I don't measure each one. I like to keep things easy.  If you have smaller dogs or want to make more bite-size pieces you can also cut them cross-wise into half rounds.

Yam slices ready for dehydrating in the oven

After I've finished slicing I arrange them on a baking sheet in a single layer.  To prevent the slices from sticking to the baking sheet and make clean-up easier, line the pan with parchment paper or a silicone baking sheet.  Don't use non-stick sprays, oil or butter.

Dehydrating Yam Chews in the oven
Bake in the oven at 250 F for about 3 hours.  I sometimes also use my food dehydrator, which typically takes about 24 hours.

Turning the yam chew slices
After about an hour and a half (about half-way through the baking time), turn the slices.

Yam slices cooling
Some of the smaller slices will get done faster, so about the last half-hour of baking, I start removing ones that are dried and set them on a baking sheet to cool.  A few of the thicker, larger slices may take a bit longer.

Will Your Dog Like Yam Chews?

Since a picture beats a thousand words, below are photos showing what my border collies, Tim and Hank think about yam chews.

Here is Tim's reaction.....  Sorry about the blurry photo.  It was hard to slow him down enough to take a clearer shot.

Tim the border collie taking his yam chew

And here is a photo of an eager Hank.  Please watch the fingers, buddy!

Hank the border collie with a home-made yam jerky treat

In case you wanted to see another photo of Tim being offered another yam jerky treat.  

Tim the border collie goes wild for yam jerky
And below another photo of wild-eyed Hank....

Hank the border collie eating a home-made yam chew treat

Easy on the fingers, again buddy!  Yes, that's drool on the chin in anticipation of his yam chew.  So I guess that would be 4 paws up from Tim and Hank.  Or would it be 8 paws up?

If you don't want to make your own (but why wouldn't you?), I recommend Sam's Yam's.  They are a natural dried sweet potato chew made in the USA:

(Disclosure: I am an Amazon Associate and will receive a commission if you make a purchase through this link.)

Sweet Potato and Yam Nutritional Information

sweet potato nutrition facts: cal 120, fat 0 g, carbs 29 g, dietary fiber 4 g, sugars 9 g, protein 2 g, vit a 520%, vit c 35%, calcium 4%, iron 6%
Sweet Potato and Yam Nutritional Information - USDA - Public Domain

Sweet potatoes and yams are high in several important nutrients like Vitamin A, Vitamin C, iron and calcium. They are also fat-free and low in sodium.  Obviously the nutritional information above obtained from the USDA is what is recommended for humans, but these vitamins and minerals are important for our pets, too.

Storing Your Home-made Yam Chews

If the chews are thoroughly dehydrated they could be kept in a jar, which looks cute, but if you live in a humid climate they might retain enough moisture to mold.  I keep mine in the freezer just to be on the safe side and take out a few at a time to thaw.  Or my dogs will even eat them frozen!

Yam jerky treats in a jar

Have your dogs tried yam and sweet potato chews?  How did they react?

Monday, November 23, 2015

Border Collies in a Frenzy

Since moving into the country a few months ago, my border collies have lots of room to run and get plenty of exercise, so I thought they would be too tired to get into mischief.  I was wrong.  While they do have some down time, numerous times a day they jump up, bark and run to the door and want to go out.

Border Collies Hank and Tim  - "Let us Out!"
I make them wait before letting them out the door. First I check to make sure there isn't someone at the door or something dangerous.  Besides it is just our house rules.  Dogs don't run out the door without being released.  So, it is.....


Border Collies Tim and Hank by the door


Border Collies Tim and Hank waiting not so patiently


Border Collies on the run

And in a blur they run out the door full speed into a nearby grove of pine trees.  Obviously their more sensitive canine ears or noses have picked up sounds or scents I can't detect.  It is time for me to find out what is causing them to go into a frenzy several times a day, so I followed.

Tim the Border Collie sniffing
They run to the base of one of the trees where Tim is the first to start sniffing around.

Pine Cone fragments
A closer look at what Tim is checking out reveals a pile of pine cone fragments.

Tim the Border Collie trying to climb a tree
Tim is looking up and seems to be interested in something that ran up one of the trees.  It looks like he is trying to climb the tree.

Border collies, Tim and Hank, checking out a tree trunk
Apparently Hank decided that Tim needed assistance.

A nest in a tree
I looked up to see what might be up in the tree and spy what I'm guessing is someone's cozy nest.   Then I heard some chattering and the dogs went berserk.  I located the source of the sound on a nearby branch.

A Red Pine Squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudonsonicus) in a Pine Tree
The sound was familiar so I was not surprised to see a red pine squirrel.  Although we had a different species of squirrel living around our home in western Washington they drove the dogs crazy, too.

A Red Pine Squirrel Chattering
The squirrel turned and looked at us and after another quick series of squeaky chirps, it ran off along a branch and jumped through the air to a branch on another tree and kept running and jumping from tree to tree with the dogs in hot pursuit on the ground below.

Tim the border collie
A few minutes later the dogs must have lost sight and sound of the squirrel in a thicker grove of trees and returned.  Tim seemed especially pleased with himself after chasing off that pesky squirrel.  My dogs seem to think it is their job to keep the squirrels away.  Does your dog chase squirrels, too?  Or do you have a dog that ignores squirrels?

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Fun in the First Snow

Waking up to a world covered in snow
Nose to the ground with fresh scents to follow
In the snow humans can see what made the scents that we dogs follow - a deer
Tim the border collie - the joy of running in the snow

Hank the border collie makes a snow angel
Hank the border collie buries his nose in the snow

Hank the border collie being silly in the snow

Tim the border collie licks his lips after eating some snow

The lights and warmth of home beckon

Tim the border collie settles in his bed for a nap

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The Dangers of Fall Leaves - Wordless Wednesday

The fall leaves are pretty, but Hank the Border Collie learns that they can be dangerous.

Leaves can jump up and grab you

Leaves can give you junk in your trunk

Do these leaves make my butt look big?

Monday, November 9, 2015

Tyson the Traveling Labrador Retriever

Before I started this blog about my adventures with my border collies, there were a succession of other dogs in my life. In celebration of  "Adopt a Senior Pet Month"  I'd like to pay tribute to one of dogs I adopted when he was older.  He was a big old yellow Labrador Retriever named Tyson.  For anyone who wonders if this fits the "Monday Mischief" theme, read on to discover that even though he was older he was still capable of plenty of mischief!

Tyson, the Traveling Labrador
Tyson and I found each other through a circuitous route. Everyone who knows me knows how much I love dogs, so I often get emails forwarded from friends and acquaintances about dogs who need help finding a home.

One such email was about an approximately 7-8 year old yellow lab which had been forwarded numerous times before it arrived in my inbox.  At the time my husband and I had a 12 year old female lab/husky mix named, Jessie, who we thought might enjoy the company of another older, mellow dog. We had also adopted Jessie as a "Senior Dog" about 3 years earlier when she was about 9 years old. Here is Tyson's story as it was told to us.....  (All photos are mine unless otherwise credited)

Florida - Where Tyson's Story began

Photo Credit: Miami and Fisher Island by Mohmed Althani on FlickrCreative Commons License 2.0

Tyson's Story 

They call me Tyson.  I was probably born in Florida like Marley of "Marley and Me" - heck since we're both Labrador retrievers, we might even be relatives! The person who took me home was an airline flight attendant so I guess it was my destiny to travel.

I lived in an apartment for about the first year of my life. I was a happy, energetic puppy with a love of life! I loved to run. I loved to tear things up. I loved to chew. I loved to go for walks. I loved to go for rides in the car. I loved to grab things and run with them.
I grew really fast and soon I learned how to snatch tasty things from the table or counter when no one was looking!
I meant to be a good dog, but if I was busy I'd forget to come when I was called. I heard people say "No, No, Bad Dog" a lot.
Sometimes my human was gone overnight when she went to work. The one thing that didn't make me happy was to be left alone! I thought everyone would want to know that I wasn't happy so I barked.
Then I heard someone say, "That dog must go!" Great, I thought, I love to go! Where are we going? My travels were about to begin.

Cool, Caribbean Island Dog 

The next thing I knew they loaded me into a crate and then put me on a plane. I didn't like being in that crate at all and since I thought everyone would want to know, I barked and howled the whole time.
After what seemed like forever they unloaded me from my crate. I heard someone say that we were in a place called Honduras!
Then I was introduced to a man. He seemed like a nice man and I liked him, but I like everyone!
The man and I got into a boat. It was my first trip on a boat! It was a little scary at first but I loved the scents in the air and the breeze flapping my ears. We went out to an island in the Caribbean off the coast of Honduras.
The island was a wonderful place full of wonderful scents and room to roam. The man was a caretaker for the owner of the island and we lived in a little house together. We had the whole island to ourselves most of the time.
The man and I were together all day long so I was never alone. There were lots of great things to sniff, an ocean to swim in and I got to do whatever I wanted all day long. I took naps in the warm sun whenever I felt like it and slept on the bed with him at night.
About six years went by and one day I heard the man tell someone that the island had been sold and we needed to move. The man started packing up all of our things. We got in a boat and traveled to another island. We went to visit a lady named Sue. She had 10 dogs! The man left and I stayed with Sue and her 10 dogs. I missed the man but I was having a great time playing with all of the other dogs! I had no idea that Sue was famous!
One day, after a few months, Sue asked me if I wanted to go for a ride. Great, I thought, I love to go! Where are we going? I didn't know it, but the man I lived with wasn't able to provide me with a home anymore and Sue had offered to help find me a new home.
We got in the car and went for a ride. Then they put me in one of those darn crates again and loaded me onto another plane!
I don't like being in a crate and I wasn't happy! It was a loooong plane ride and I knew that everyone would want to know that I wasn't happy so I howled and barked the whole way!
Why is my friend Sue famous?  The photo below is a clue:

Photo credit: Sue the Dinosaur by Connie Ma Creative Commons License 2.0
No, my friend is not a T-Rex dinosaur!  Here is more information about my friend, Sue Hendrickson, and her amazing discovery:

Back in the USA - A Cool dog in the Chilly Northwest

Seattle Washington
Then we finally landed and I got out of the crate. It was September and someone said we were at SeaTac Airport. Man, it was COLD! Sue brought me all the way to Seattle to see if she could find me a new home!
We went to visit Sue's sister and I met her sister's dogs. They were fun to play with.
After I'd been there about 3 weeks and I was just getting used to living there, Sue asked me if I wanted to go for a ride. Great, I thought, I love to go! Where are we going?
I jumped into the car and after a short ride we parked in front of a house. There was another big yellow dog, a lady and a man standing in front of house when we arrived.
Tyson and Jessie
The dog was a female and they called her Jessie. I heard someone say that she was half husky and half Labrador retriever, but that didn't matter to me. She was almost as big as me and didn't seem to mind when I sauntered past her to go into the house after we met.
I didn't mean to be rude but I needed to get in out of the cold!
The man and the lady seemed nice, too, and I liked them.
I like everybody!
Tyson the Traveling Labrador Retriever soon after we adopted him
I checked out the house and the next thing I knew Sue said goodbye and left in the car.
I had found my forever home! I grew a heavier coat more suited to the cooler climate, but I'm still the cool dog from the Caribbean!
Now my travels are rides in the car, trips to the beach, swimming, hiking and camping in the beautiful Pacific Northwest.
Tyson Swimming
Some of my other favorite things are chewy treats and greeting everyone as they enter the house. I love everyone! I show people how happy I am to see them by bringing them underwear or socks from the laundry hamper when they come in the front door!  

The Rest of the Tale from Vicki


Why Adopt or Rescue an Older Homeless Pet?

Tyson is just one of many wonderful older pets who for various reasons find themselves needing a new home.
He was the most gentle, sweet dog you could ever meet. He loved everyone! He made us laugh and enriched our life.  He was trained on basic commands, housebroken and didn't have any bad habits (except for snatching things from the laundry hamper, some occasional counter surfing and sleeping on furniture).
Instead of a puppy, consider contacting a rescue organization or visiting a local shelter to see if there is an older dog who is still full of fun, has love to give and is waiting for a forever home with YOU!
If anyone recognizes Tyson because of his unusual travels and can tell us more details about his life, please contact me or leave a comment!

More of Tyson's Adventures

I was blessed to have Tyson's companionship in my life for almost 6 years.   He taught me much about enjoying life, seeing everyone as a friend, not worrying and starting each day with joy.  There are many wonderful memories of him that make me laugh and smile.
Tyson never failed to be a friendly and welcoming host to any human or canine who entered our home.  He was the gentle giant who rolled over on his back to allow tiny puppies to crawl all over him and chew on his ears.  There were exuberant young canine guests and a succession of other dogs with whom he shared his home.  He never took offense, but simply ignored several cranky "no-fun police" border collies who reprimanded him for his silly antics with barks, nips and body slams.
Every morning he awoke anticipating his beloved morning walk.  The walks got shorter as he got older, but were still eagerly enjoyed.  After his walks he ran in the front door and threw himself down on the living room rug for his morning roll.
He loved toys with squeakers that he promptly killed and dismembered. Some days he would pull every raggedy toy in his toy box out on the floor. He also enjoyed a good game of tug of war with whatever was handy - a toy or even some article of clothing he pulled out of the dirty clothes hamper. The photo below is of Tyson and one of our border collies, Skye, in the aftermath of one of their games of tug of war with a pair of pajamas.  Oops!

Skye the border collie and Tyson the Labrador Retriever after a game of tug of war

He loved to try to entice people or other dogs to play by running in great circles in what I called his "silly scoot",  It was a ridiculous looking posture with his tail tucked between his legs and his butt down and head turned behind him to see if anyone was chasing him.
He always enjoyed his creature comforts and liked nothing better than to sleep on a sofa or bed.   I was always amazed that a 100 pound dog could somehow sneak up onto the bed in the middle of the night without anyone noticing.  In the morning when I awoke and said something like "Tyson, what are you doing up here?"  he  would just wag his tail and smile.

Tyson's Final Journey

Tyson's health started to fail in the summer of 2009 with a series of strokes and seizures from a neurological problem that was never identified.  There were several episodes that we thought he would not survive, but he always seemed to rebound and recover.  With each event he slowly, but steadily, deteriorated and then in April of 2010 he was diagnosed with megaesophagus. For more information about megaesophagus, please visit my Hubpage:  My Dog has Megaesophagus.   Unfortunately, despite our best efforts to manage his condition including building him a Bailey Chair he continued to decline and died in my arms one night after another neurological event.  

Remembering Tyson

Gone, but never forgotten

One reason some people hesitate to adopt an older dog is because they don't want the heartbreak of losing a dog in a few short years.  I understand that reluctance completely.  It is difficult to say goodbye to a dear friend, but the six years I had with Tyson were worth the pain. I was glad to be able to provide him with the love, attention and the comfortable home he deserved for the remaining years of his life.  As I've learned from my own experiences, there are no guarantees associated with getting a younger dog.  We have lost dogs to cancer at a young age which in many ways was more heartbreaking than losing a dog who had at least lived the average dog life expectancy.  
To honor Tyson's memory, in addition to this post, I made a memory ornament on Zazzle using one of my favorite photos.
Pet Memory Ornament - Make Your Own
Pet Memory Ornament - Make Your Own by VickiSims
Check out other Pet memorial Ornaments at

I also feel like I'm honoring the memory of Tyson and every other dog I've ever loved when I help another dog who needs a home to find one.