Bonus Round

This summer, our seventeen-year-old poodle Ben, Ana’s companion and personal Secret Service agent (of whom I have written here and here), took a turn for the worse. It had been coming for months. Back at the turn of the year, we’d had a growth removed from his toe, and a biopsy confirmed the worst fears. Melanoma. The surgeon, who is awesome in every way (and reminds us so much of Bob Burg that it’s almost eerie), told us he was quite sure he got it all. Still, he said, the odds were heavily slanted toward the disease recurring, in a more insidious and systemic form, within six months. We were told we should expect the worst. So we immediately began expecting the best. One of our secret weapons is our dog food. It took Ana and I years to work out the formula (and by “Ana and I,” I mean Ana), but man, have we worked it out. For our two four-legged guys we cook what has to be some of the healthiest dog food on the planet. Grass-fed lamb roast, pressure-cooked with a prodigious amount of seaweed (dulse and kombu), then ground and mixed with a great pile of our own patented steamed doggie-mirepoix: organic heirloom carrots, celery, green beans, yams. Plus, the finishing touch, finely chopped parsley (superiorly beneficial for the kidneys). Most black poodles we know have hair that’s gone mostly white by the time they reach our guys’ age. Ben and Toby are still 90–95% black-haired. (The seaweed. Gotta be the seaweed.) Great food. Tender care. A lot of love. All was good. Then one day Ben started acting odd. He would...