On Feeding a Locavore

Kinda broad at the shoulder, narrow at the hips, and...

It is not an un-heard-of way of coping with inevitable misbehavior.

In high school, I had a friend whose parents held no illusions that their son would not look for and find alcohol somewhere–illegally, and with no small risk of harm. So they stocked the fridge with beer, and my friend could drink himself silly in his own room. He did just that a time or two, then it lost is cookies–I mean its charm, and he was never so enamored of intoxication later on in college.

So we’re thinking of using the same psychology with Tsuga, our carrion-craving carnivore, our often-AWOL dog, in his addiction to guts and bones.  If they’re out there–and they very often are–he WILL get his nose in the wind and find them.

If we know without a doubt that he’s going to disappear in the woods for hours to find it and eat anything that dies (or is killed by hunters, coyotes, or disease–with the inevitable GI consequences almost always in the wee hours the following day), we might as well stock the pantry at home with disgusting dead stuff and give him free range where we can keep an eye on him.

We could look for road kill and deposit it out by the garden shed. We could offer our front yard as a drop-off point for all the deer remains from that which will be illegally killed and field-dressed and dumped up the road in the creek between now and hunting season.

We’d know where he was while he was eating this awful stuff, and we’d have some idea of how much he ate of what, when–and have a better idea of what we were in for at 2 a.m. the next morning.

Sounds like a plan to me.

Image: Tsuga at three months. And his rear axle NEVER DID grow into proportion with his front quarters. He’s still sorta broad at the shoulders, skinny at the hips (and every body knowd you didn’t give no lip–to Big Tsuga.) With apologies to Jimmy Dean.

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. Bad plan all the way around. Clean up of items returned from the intestinal track will be too hard and too messy to easily mitigate. Suggest you come up with alternative.


  2. Find tongue in cheek. We plan to distance dog from the dead meat as much as possible; but dog off leash to run free in the woods (as wife insists) guarantees he’ll smell, find and eat. Danged if we does or if we doesn’t.

  3. There is a growing advocacy for feeding a Biologically Appropriate Raw Foods (BARF) diet for dogs. It would not be whatever random things Tsuga now finds to eat but maybe you want to explore the concept. Can’t say I’ve tried it for my pack, it’s a bit more work than I’m willing to do.