Feeding Time at the Tacketts’

Justin TackettI was raised in a small town in southwest Arkansas. I grew up in a simple place where most everyone had a few labs, the occasional bird dog and usually a good ol’ collie dog to chew up your football or baseball glove if you left it outside over night.

One of my most vivid memories was watching my Dad create this incredibly wild concoction every evening at feeding time. If you happened to walk around the corner at the wrong time you’d become the ingredient guy. It was always amazing to me, because he got so excited that he kinda talked to himself as he administered each of his double-secret ingredients. jtFeeding1You gotta remember that this southern lawyer knew less about canine nutrition than your average 3rd-grade kid from the inner city. But he knew what he liked and that was good enough for him. Especially since no one ever told him differently.

We had a large porch behind the house and he’d have those bowls lined up on the porch rail. Big ol’ steel mixing bowls that were so dented and worn out, they could barely stand on their own without rolling over. My dogs would be sitting right there doing everything they could to be perfect. They knew the game: the best dog for the 15 minutes prior to feeding would be the first one to get one of those monster bowls.

He’d always start with milk…good old-fashioned red-top milk. I guess they had 2% and skim in those days, but I had never seen it. Then he’d start hollering everything else he wanted you to bring him. He’d say, “Bring me some bacon and some cheese…and some sardines, and get me some of that leftover spaghetti out of the fridge.” After he opened everything and dumped it semi-evenly into those bowls, he’d stare at the bowls for a minute or two. Then he’d bark out the new play: “Get the grease can from the stovetop and grab me a big wooden spoon and a, a, a, a, a—get me some peanut butter.” Then he’d show me how knowledgeable he really was by defending the peanut butter because of the funny look I’d give him. “Peanuts are pure protein and dogs love peanut butter,” he’d tell me.

jtFeeding2He would stir it with that big wooden spoon for 5 minutes and then he’d finally remember to add a little dog food. He’d just open that big ol’ bag and start dumping it in until there was no more room, and he’d go back to stirring for another 5 minutes. The actual DOG food was an afterthought at best.

Then he’d sit down in a rocking chair and watch those dogs tackle those huge bowls. In the 15 years of feedings I don’t ever remember watching a dog finish the entire bowl. Thinking back it had to be a 5 or 6 pounds of food, and I’m sure each bowl had at least 5 bucks tied up in it. Our dogs weren’t fat, because that would mean that your dogs were lazy and “only lazy people owned lazy dogs.” Knowing what I know now, I’m surprised they lived as long as they did on that diet.

Anyway…my point is, I can’t fault my Dad—he was just doing what he really thought was best for his dogs, and I think that’s all that any of us really want to do. It’s hard to claim that excuse these days, with the wealth of knowledge that’s available to us all. Feed your dog the best you can; that’s all anyone, including your dog, can ask.


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