Bow Wow

I know I'm opening a brand-new can of worms here — raw worms — by even broaching this topic, but I can't help myself. Given the absurd number of passionate letters I got after writing about Tempe's Rawsome! Cafe, I imagine now I'll be hearing from equally frenzied pet owners. For folks who missed it, Rawsome is a new health-food restaurant nurturing a cult cuisine where cooking anything is forbidden. No real hamburgers; instead, a clammy raw pulp of sunflower seeds, zucchini, tomato, celery, flaxseed, garlic, onion, red pepper and poultry seasoning. I hated it; Rawsome supporters have been making it pretty clear that they now hate me.

But here goes another one.

What is wrong with people? Now the raw food movement is going to the dogs. Literally. An organization called BARF (Bones and Raw Food) has sprung up, advocating that Fido go back to his roots and rediscover the health benefits of an all-natural, raw food diet.

This means instead of Alpo, we should be feeding, and I quote from, "raw chicken bones, carcasses, wings, necks. However, if chicken is not available readily, use what is available locally — lamb, beef, venison, duck, rabbit, kangaroo, pig, raw whole fish." Ostrich and deer are good, too. (The international BARF organization was founded in Australia, so perhaps they have a lot of leftover kangaroo and ostrich lying around.)

Phoenicians are invited to participate in the "PhxRaw Food" discussion group on, and to join the Arizona Bones and Raw Food Co-op, which orders specially (un)prepared food once a month from the Valley's Hobe Meats, an upscale butcher better known for its prime beef and live lobster than chicken feet.

Just as raw foodies (people) believe, BARFers are convinced that cooking ruins pet food's nutritional value. A dog that eats only raw food will live longer, be more active, and smell better, they say.

Some of this I can buy into. I feed my dog Santiago the brand Nutro Natural Choice, because I like that it doesn't contain any meat by-products (intestines, heads, feet). But he also eats a lot of cooked leftovers (from the best restaurants in town, often enough). If this dog had any more energy, I'd be in the hospital.

But when BARFers offer information on kosher diets for Jewish dogs, and founder Jane Johnson does, somebody's got to put his paw down. And I've got to question that each individual breed needs a unique diet, too. I'm told my Rhodesian Ridgeback thrives on "essences," whatever that is, while a Pug does better with herbs, homeopathy and other holistic treatments.

Oh, for goodness' sake. Just give a dog a bone and be done with it.