The way the dog cookie crumbles 

A glimpse into the bifurcated world where dog and man meet cheek to jowl

In the essentially unexplored world of dog biscuits, Dylan Jones would rank as connoisseur. A good thing, too, because all eyes and ears will be on Dylan as the only non-canine judge interpreting results at the upcoming Dog Cookie Bake-Off.

The bake-off, part of Tourism Whistler's first annual Dog Days, kicking off April 16, will see Dylan and fellow four-legged judges determine the best of show for home-made dog biscuits. The taste test gets underway at 2 p.m., April 24 at the village firehall parking lot.

In addition to samples for the judges, contestants will submit their cookie recipes, which will be compiled into a cookbook and sold to raise funds for Whistler Animals Galore (WAG), the local no-kill shelter which last year assisted 113 animals, three-quarters of them dogs.

"Actually, I’ve been eating dog cookies for a long time," notes Dylan, who, at a mere 12 years of age, is one of WAG’s most dedicated volunteers. "Gayle (Melanka), who brings home-made cookies and food to the shelter, has always had these really good peanut butter cookies and I like to eat them sometimes. I give the dog one and I give me one."

Dylan quickly points out that he only goes for quality home-made biscuits with no animal by-products. But besides that, what does a human expert on dog cookies look for?

"Pretty much how they taste is the main thing. And how they smell too," he says. "I like them softer, not hard at all. And fresh, right out of the oven.

"I probably will watch the dogs and how they react, but I’ll have my own opinion, too." You can bet your sweet dog biscuits he will.

But before you leap to any conclusions about Dylan and his proclivity for dog bickies, check out the recipes below. I don’t know about you, but when I read them I thought, hey, these sound really good, and that was even before Dylan tipped me off. Plus they’re probably a lot healthier than most people biscuits, which is what drives the bake-your-own trend and other nouvelle approaches to dogs’ diets.

Dog food is an $8-billion/year industry in North America. You could write a book on the subject, as many have, but for now you’ll have to settle for this helicopter view.

I base my findings on a pretty unscientific survey of everyone from local vets to Joanne Russell, shelter manager for WAG, and Kathleen Duffey and Valori Saltzman, who make home-made dog treats they sell commercially. Of special note is George Cook, also known as Dr. Doo Litter, who last week removed 500-800 pounds of dog doo from one condominium site alone, and thus qualifies, at least in my books, as an expert on the ultimate outcome of dog food. (Some 1.5 million pounds of dog waste are produced in Whistler each year, making it at least a top contender, if not the No. 1 gross domestic product.)

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