As Christmas approaches, we try to think of ways to show our pets just how much they mean to us involving them in our festive fun. I always make sure I wrap certain presents for my pets (often wondering if they'd prefer them unwrapped to dive in quicker) and I even have a Christmas ornament which makes an appearance every year featuring a fireplace with stockings hanging above with my dogs names on.
But sometimes the greatest pleasures can be had when we create memories as well, and so to celebrate the release of 'The Christmas Guest' written by Daisy Bell and inspired by a dog named Max, we are sharing a Christmas treat recipe extract with you today from the book which we hope you and your dog will love creating Christmas memories you can both cherish (and in your dog's case, eat).
It's so simple I think I might even manage to make it (my baking skills leave a lot to be desired).
Teddy’s Favourite Christmas Treats (only for dogs)
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes
To make 30 delicious doggy treats, you will need:
320g of whole wheat flour or gluten-free flour
100g of plain rolled oats
60g of grated apple (no seeds)
250g of smooth or crunchy peanut butter
40g of grated carrot
1tsp of baking powder
One large egg or 60ml of warm water
Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees.
In a medium bowl add the dry ingredients and mix together. In a small bowl add the remaining ingredients and stir together until combined.
Transfer the contents of the small bowl into the dry ingredients and combine the two until a soft dough is formed. Lightly dust a work surface with flour and transfer the dough the surface.
Use a rolling pin to roll the dough to roughly 2cm width. Use Christmas themed cookie cutters to cut the dough.
Place the shapes on a lined baking tray and place them in the oven. After 10 minutes of baking, flip the biscuits and bake for another 10 minutes.
When biscuits are brown and cooked through, remove from oven and allow them to cool for 10 minutes. Finally, feed to your pampered pooch!
Share your photos of your dog's favourite homemade treats with us by commenting below - we'd love to see how you get on!
In the meantime, if the recipe has whetted your appetite about 'The Christmas Guest', read on below.
Here's Daisy to explain more about writing 'The Christmas Guest' and the inspiration behind the book, a dog named Max.
As a novelist, creating a sympathetic hero is one of the biggest challenges of the writing process – all the more so when your lead character is a dog.
My new book, The Christmas Guest, is told from the point of view of Teddy, a bouncy eight-week-old Golden Retriever, who finds himself lost in the countryside the week before Christmas. Writing a book from a puppy’s perspective was a daunting prospect, but getting under this little chap’s fur was far less tricky than it might have been, because Teddy’s nature – and to an extent, his whole story - was inspired by a real-life dog who I know very well indeed.
A couple of years ago, just before Christmas, one of my neighbours mentioned that a friend was looking to rehome her dog, Max. She had adopted him from a rescue shelter a few months ago, but was finding this energetic young Working Cocker Spaniel too much of a responsibility. Did I know anyone who might be able to offer him a home?
By chance, my mum had sadly lost one of her two beloved Border Terriers a few months earlier, leaving her remaining dog Hattie without a companion, so I asked her if she might be interested - which is why a few days later we found ourselves standing on the doorstep waiting to meet Max.
A flurry of feverish barking answered our knock, then the door opened and a blur of copper-coloured fur flew out and greeted us in such a frenzy of joy it was as if he had been expecting us. My mum is far from impulsive, but it was clearly love at first sight for both parties, and that afternoon when we drove back to her home in the Kent countryside we had an extra passenger in the car. Max’s tail didn’t stop wagging the whole way home.
From the little we knew of his troubled background, it sounded as if Max had quite a difficult start in life, but I’ve never met such an affectionate dog. Like most Cockers, he was greedy, true, but even his prodigious capacity for food was dwarfed by his appetite for cuddles. He would even try to snuggle up with Mum’s cats in their basket, despite receiving a rather scratchy reception! Not only that, but Max turned out to be unusually sensitive to human emotions: he had a sixth sense for when someone was stressed or unhappy and would try to do whatever he could to comfort them.
Fast forward to earlier this year, and when I started writing The Christmas Guest the inspiration for my doggy hero Teddy was obvious. Physical differences aside, not only do Teddy and Max both arrive in their new homes just before Christmas (and both face a frosty welcome from the resident cats) but they are desperate to do everything they can to bring their new families happiness.
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In Max’s case, this was particularly obvious in the way he befriended Mum’s Border Terrier Hattie, who had all but lost her spirit after the death of her old mate, but rediscovered her zest for life thanks to her excitable new friend. Whenever I was unsure about how Teddy would react in the book, I would just think: “What would Max do?” It made the writing process remarkably easy.
As I write, Max is looking forward to Christmas: he’s a big turkey fan, plus after one particularly memorable incident last year that directly inspired a scene in the book he obviously now associates Christmas trees with candy canes.
As for Teddy, you might be wondering if, like Max, he finds his happy ever after. Can he help solve his new family’s problems and convince them to let him stay with them forever? Well, there’s only one way to find out!
The Christmas Guest by Daisy Bell is published by Quercus and is out now.