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PET FOOD SPECIAL : Go Ask Alice : The Making of a Doggy Foodie

June 22, 1995|KATHIE JENKINS

Meet Alice. She was born in West Covina four years ago, but her parents are from Belgium, just like Bernard Erpicum, the former Spago mai^tre d' who now owns the celebrity hot spot Eclipse on Melrose. Alice doesn't own a tuxedo, but her bangs were trimmed for this picture, and she weighs almost as much as Bernard. These days, just like Bernard, Alice is into food too.

Alice had her first home-cooked meal last month. As I researched pet food trends and tested pet recipes, she was my willing guinea pig. Except for celery and bananas, which she likes--but only as objects to roll on--there's practically nothing she won't put in her mouth. Still, until she became a Times taste tester, she'd never gotten excited about food before--that was because she'd never had anything but kibble.

Then one day I fed Alice doggie oats from a recipe by Dr. Richard Pitcairn, a well-known animal nutrition expert. When I set the oats in front of her, she smelled the plate, her ears perked up, and she gobbled up every bit as if it were rare aged meat. The next day she came over and stood right beside me as I prepared her food, staring into my eyes until I set down her bowl. Alice is now a foodie.

Alice also likes La Brea Bakery dog biscuits with fresh mint (I like them because they make her breath smell sweet). Genora's vegetable soup and rice spooned over delicious-smelling Flint Ranch kibble (please see Hxx) makes her happy, even though the vegetables might have been cut a little smaller and maybe some chicken thrown in. She polished off Dr. John Limehouse's cat loaf in less than a minute.

But Thirsty Dog sparkling water? Uh uh. Not a taste she was willing to acquire.

One night I stayed up past midnight slow-roasting bones because someone said they were excellent for cleaning dog teeth and a lot easier on a dog than being put under anesthesia, which most veterinarians recommend. Alice quickly polished off the entire bone, but her diarrhea lasted several days. Later I realized I was supposed to buy beef bones, not pork.

I'm still cooking for Alice, feeding her a varied diet--meat, fish, grains, pasta, vegetables, and kibble--and already she seems happier and never looked better. Her wiry coat glistens, she seldom scratches and her teeth are white as chalk. I've toyed with the idea of trying more exotic recipes, but I don't think Alice would approve. Her tastes, though elegant, are quite simple. Maybe that's a Belgian thing too.

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