"I've never met an animal I didn't like, and I can't say the same thing about people." - Doris Day
"An animal's eyes have the power to speak a great language." - Martin BuberI am not a clingy person by nature. The running joke with my direct reports is to make sure that a 24 inch minimum space bubble is left around me at all times. (This does not offend me - I fully endorse the idea). Hugs are reserved for 1) family or people who have made the short list, 2) life events (funerals, baby births, weddings, etc) or 3) young children. Now, I understand that this makes me a genetic oddity within my family and can project a stand-offish vibe to those who don't know me well.
With that context in mind, our decision to bring home a puppy almost two years ago did not line up with that underlying premise. However, when I saw a Want Ad Digest advertisement for Australian Cattle Dog - Lab mix puppies and saw the slide show of pictures showing up these adorable creatures with eyes like salted caramel, something inside me clicked.
Now as a breed, Labrador retrievers are somewhat ubiquitous (at least around here), but I had no idea what to expect from an Australian cattle dog. I began excessively Google-ing the breed traits.
From the AKC Website: "ACDs have immense work drive and excel at hunting, chasing, and, of course, moving livestock. Their boundless energy and supple gait make them excellent running partners. ACDs are true-blue loyal, famously smart, ever alert, and wary of strangers. If an ACD isn’t challenged, he easily becomes bored and gets into mischief. It is recommended that ACD owners participate with their dog in some work, sport, or regular exercise to keep him mentally and physically fit."It was at that point I knew I had found my spirit animal. After some one-sided negotiations with the other half, we scheduled a trip out to the country to place our deposit and meet what we hoped would become the newest member of our family. When we arrived at the farm, several children greeted us and wanted to know which "pup" we were there to see. One of the little boys went and grabbed the puppy for us and warned us that he didn't like this one as much because he didn't play like the other ones did.
I took one look at that puppy's face, processed the boy's comments and knew there was no way that puppy was going home with anyone else. We left our deposit, made arrangements to return the following week. Six days and several flea bath's later, the newest member of the family came home to stay and took over our lives in ways we never expected.
Now, despite the fact that Rocky is a bit of a Velcro dog, he will go into hiding at the first echo of any mechanical noise in the house. Vacuum cleaner, fans, a/c kicking on, blender, mixer, clanking pots, stovetop sizzling - any of these are enough to send him to his hiding place. However, at the first site of a bird or a squirrel he becomes a fierce protection machine.
On his very first day hike, the dog who is afraid of almost anything jumped off a rock ledge into a lake to chase a duck. (When he realized what he had done, it was a whole other story...) So it seemed fitting to celebrate his second birthday with a tribute to the animal that can make him forget himself and overcome his natural tendencies.
Duck fat cookies are a simple to prepare and tasty to eat shortbread cookie that rely on a mixture of butter and duck fat to lend them their texture. Boozy dried berries (I used cranberries) provide a little bit of color and some added flavor. I could also see some chopped chocolate pieces or cocoa nibs working really well here as well. The cookies kept well in a sealed container and made for an irresistible nibble at the end of a long work day.
This post participates in Cook the Book Fridays, where a group is currently working their way through David Lebovitz's My Paris Kitchen (not an affiliate link).