Bowie just might be the best-fed dog in Australia.
The seven-year-old Labrador enjoys a more extravagant diet than most humans. For months, he has been a taste tester for a gourmet, raw food and native-ingredient bush tucker degustation menu dreamt up by his owner, Riesa Renata.
Riesa Renata, Bowie the Labrador and The Saltiest Dog owner Kate Optiz. Credit:Chris Hopkins
He has devoured emu and Davidson plum cheese tartlettes and kangaroo and chicken heart balls, served with seasonal vegetables in golden turmeric coconut milk. He’s cleansed his palette with bone broth, dog-safe mint sorbet and crocodile crisps, before washing it all down with fresh cucumber and raw goat’s milk.
This month, Renata’s fancy – and dog-safe – three-course menu, which would be the envy of MasterChef contestants, will be served up to Melbourne canines at a “dog-ustation” dining event at The Saltiest Dog raw pet food store in Thornbury in the city’s north.
The lovechild of Renata and The Saltiest Dog owner Kate Opitz, the event is part of the global raw feeding and wellness trend.
Their motto is: “Dog.ustation is French for treat our dogs like the royalty they are.”
Renata, a graphic designer from Hurstbridge, said she was inspired to start cooking raw food for Bowie when he was a puppy. He had struggled with digestive issues, including a chronically upset stomach, while on a traditional kibble diet.
She spent months going back and forth from the vet and trying out different brands of traditional dog food, before researching alternative diets and slowly transitioning Bowie to a protein-rich raw food diet.
At first, Renata was guided by a qualified vet about what raw food was safe for dogs and then completed a course on raw dog food and nutrition. Renata began posting photos on Instagram of Bowie’s food during the pandemic and has now written two cookbooks with meals for dogs including dog-safe fruits and vegetables.
“Bowie has just flourished and thrived,” she said. “His symptoms subsided, and they have just never returned.”
Renata and Bowie.Credit:Chris Hopkins
Opitz said the event was being held for people to thank their pups for the unconditional love and happiness they brought them and was also a way to socialise with other dog owners.
“We love our dogs so much and it’s nice to do something for them as they don’t ask for much,” Optiz said. “People might think it’s silly to do this for your dog, but it’s … thanking our dogs for the joy and love that they bring to us.”
Renata said meals could be adjusted for dogs based on their dietary needs and that it was a way to teach owners how to cook meals for their dogs using readily available whole ingredients such as vegetables and protein.
The dine-in evening will also include pawsecco – a canine-safe mocktail made from coconut water – for dogs, as well as prosecco and cocktails for the owners.
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