June 13, 2022

Melissa has been giving Zena several different treats to see it there is one she likes that will last more than a few minutes.  We used chicken jerky as the special treat when we had Bella and she loved it.  She would grab her treat and carry it around the house until she found just the right spot to eat.  We even got to the point where we would often give her half a jerky treat and she would munch on it happily for ten minutes.  We bought jerky strips for Zena and found while she will also take it to a special spot, it takes her about one minute to eat an entire strip.  The difference might be that Bella was a sheltie who at 14 years old weighed 27 pounds (12.25 kg) and Zena is a Great Pyrenees who at 14 weeks weighs 46 pounds (20.9 kg).  What Melissa found that seems to last longer is pig’s ear.  I have heard “in a pig’s ear” most of my life, but I do not think this is what they were talking about.

When I looked online, I found the phrase “pig’s ear” has three possible origins.  As “pig’s ear” it comes from Cockney rhyming slang for beer.  Cockney is an accent and dialect of English spoken mainly in and around London by working- and lower middle-class Londoners.  One of the earliest examples of this use appears in D. W. Barrett’s Life & Work among Navvies (1880), “Now, Jack, I’m goin’ to get a tiddley wink of pig’s ear.”  You would need a Cockney to explain why “tiddley wink of pig’s ear” was thought to be an improvement on “drink of beer”, but “pig’s ear” does rhyme with “beer” and that’s usually enough for rhyming slang.  “In a pig’s ear” is an expression of disbelief that originated in the US in the 1850’s as a variant of “in a pig’s eye”.  Both phrases were used to express incredulous skepticism and meant the person is not to be believed.  “Make a pig’s ear” is a mid-20th century phrase meaning to make a mess of something.  This is first found in print in a 1950 edition of Reader’s Digest and derives from the proverb “you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear”, which dates from the 16th century.  When Stephen Gosson published the story Ephemerides in 1579 it referred to people engaged in a hopeless task as, “Seekinge too make a silke purse of a Sowes eare.”  To “make a pig’s ear of” alludes to the same result of resulting in a complete mess.  Zena could rip through a silk purse too easily anyway.

Another site addressed the trouble finding a healthy and nutritious snack for your dog.  This was said to be tricky if the dog is a picky eater or has intolerances, or if the dog seems to inhale rather than chew their treats (can you say, Zena?).   The site suggested the answer might be pig’s ear.  These chewy treats can last for ages and the best ears are completely natural.  But, how do you know which pig ears are best?  Luckily, the site pointed me to the seven best brands of pig’s ear.  Criteria for the best pig’s ear is it should be thoroughly cleaned and blanched to remove impurities and excess hair.  They are then dried slowly at low temperatures to remove excess water and the risk of salmonella.  The labeling should state the preserving method and list little or no added ingredients.  The best and safest pig’s ear comes from countries with high animal care standards.  If you find FDA certification, it means the pig’s ear have been processed to human food standards.  Anyone who has ever dropped food on the floor know dogs prefer it to be processed to human standards.

THOUGHTS:  I found it appropriate that as I researched the pros and cons of giving your dog pig’s ear, Zena came back to my office asking to be let outside.  I have learned these requests should not be taken lightly, so I attached her leash, and we went outside.  Zena immediately went to a corner of the yard where she found another of her favorite chew toys, a rock, and proceeded to roll around on the ground and chew on her rock for the next 10 minutes.  Perhaps I should save money and not buy pig’s ear.  Zena finally abandoned her rock when our neighbor came home.  Being a puppy, she is curious and can be easily distracted.  Human curiosity and our craving to know and understand is the driving force behind our development as individuals and even our success as a species, but it can be dangerous.  Encouraging others to explore and providing safe spaces to retreat is what binds us together as a species.  Act for all.  Change is coming and it starts with you.

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