There’s an holiday coming up very soon. It is the one day out of the year that we shower our loved ones with gifts, special activities and fancy dinners.
But how about the one in your family who loves you unconditionally — your dog!
According to the National Retail Federation, Americans will spend over $700 million on their pets over the Valentine’s Day weekend. Research indicates that of the pet owners who plan to buy a gift for their pet, 47% expect to spend at least $25. The most popular gift picks were toys and treats.
I read another survey the Trupanion Pet Insurance company conducted recently where 40% of the respondents said they would rather spend Valentine’s Day with their dog or cat than with their significant other! If you’re not one of those people, reserve Valentine’s Day for festivities with your human sweetheart, but doing something special with your dog around Valentine’s Day can be lots of fun too.
If you have never celebrated a Valentine’s Day that included your dog, make this the year. Dogs love special meals, special attention and, most importantly, spending quality time with you — their mom and dad.
Our favorite idea — Plan a special meal for you and your pet. And you can enjoy it guilt free with this easy, homemade beef stew — delicious to canine and humans.
Dog Lovers Homemade Beef Stew Recipe
You need a crock pot or slow cooker, frying pan and a sauce pan.
Good size top sirloin steak
4 or 5 peeled, cut up potatoes
5 nice-sized carrots, chopped
1/2 bag frozen peas thawed
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
2 cups salt-free beef bullion
Corn starch, optional
Cut up sirloin in 1 1/2 to 2 inch squares.
Cut up other ingredients and set aside.
In fry pan, brown all sides of the sirloin cubes in a little canola oil with the garlic and thyme. Add a little water to loosen browned material in the pan.
In sauce pan, heat the beef broth to boiling then add to slow cooker. Add beef and the liquid from fry pan to slow cooker. Set on high and cook for about 4 – 5 hours.
About 1/2 hour before serving, add peas to the crock pot and put potatoes and carrots in a pan. Cook for about 1/2 hour or until tender then add to the slow cooker. Let cook another 15-20 minutes.
If you’d like a thicker sauce, add a little corn starch mixed in water and poured slowly into the slow cooker.
You can be creative and use other seasonings and vegetables. Skip the onions though — they’re bad for dogs. If you want onions for the people serving, then cook separately. You can also add salt and pepper to your serving, but easy on the salt for the pooch. It’s not good for their kidneys!
Setting the Mood
Now you must decided where you are going to eat. In our family, for special occasions, the adults usually eat at the dining room table, with the dogs served in nice dishes on the floor. Four dishes spread out for the pooches.
You can kick it up a notch and spread a blanket on the floor, put some flowers in the middle and have everyone, you too, eat on the floor — picnic style! I would not suggest lighting any candles at dog level as tails have a way of flicking through the flames. That could lead to a scary end to the special dinner and a trip to the emergency vet!
Of course, Valentine’s Day is a perfect opportunity to “dress up” your pet for the dinner party. A red bow tie or vest for boys and a pretty red dress for girls and don’t forget the girls’ hair bows!
Be sure to have your camera handy to get some great pictures of this special Valentine’s celebration with your pet!
And For Dessert …
For dessert, serve Frosty Paws and a dog cookie. For you — your favorite ice cream and heart-shaped sugar cookie. But no chocolate for your pet. Baking chocolate is especially toxic, but all chocolate is bad. Also, no sugar-free items since most contain xylitol which is highly toxic to pets.
And as a finishing touch, be sure to pick up a special new toy or treat. Then hug your dog and tell him you love him!
Carole Tomas is the owner and president of Pet Pleasers, Inc. She is a graduate of Ohio University and a Charter Member of the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters. When she began Pet Pleasers in 1985, business was conducted Old School via a landline, snail mail and an answering machine the size of a breadbox. No internet, email, text messaging, digital photos, social media or mobile phones! What has remained constant over three decades: Carole’s love of animals and an unwavering passion for professional pet sitting.