I am desperately scrounging for my copy of “The Road Kill Cafe,”

Alas, I couldn’t find it anywhere. Now that I think of it, there have been too many moves and just too many years since I rode my bike up and around California’s Big Sur and the book was quite popular during the early 1970’s. A paperback as I recall it was.

A month ago, the thought of preparing home-cooked meals for a dog or cat might have seemed obsessive even for the most devoted pet lovers.

But with tainted pet food being blamed for at least 16 pet deaths — and some veterinarians predicting hundreds more to follow — preparing lamb stew for the family pet suddenly sounds sensible to at least a few more people.

So it is no surprise, perhaps, that cookbooks for dogs and cats are enjoying an increase in sales.

I decided to Google and voila what a menu appeared on my screen.

Here’s a favorite recipe for Sun Dried and Road Tenderized Opossum with Roadkill Helper.

A side note this: the makers of Roadkill Helper have been forced out of the “free” market by General Mills. The food giant claimed there might be some confusion with another product for which they own the trademark; yet there were no reported complaints about the name of Gag Foods, which made spotted Owl Helper.

So in order to keep out of trouble with the “General”, I will omit the details of my fave and suggest the following;

Roasted Rabbit with chunks of Chipmunk Stew – First prepare rabbit by slowly roasting it in an oven set at 325 degrees and roast for 1 and 1/2 hours. Next slice chipmunk into 1 in. squares then fry over low heat. Next prepare a selected variety of vegetables. Chop vegetables and saute over low heat for 5 minutes or until brown. When vegetables and chipmunk slices are thoroughly cooked place in a bowl and add 1 packet of brown gravy mix. Next add 1 and 1/2 cups of water to bowl and simmer over medium heat. Stir until thickened. When rabbit is done roasting place it onto a large platter. Next take the bowl of chipmunk slices and vegetables mixed with the brown gravy and pour over rabbit.

According to Nielsen BookScan, for the week ending March 25, after Menu Foods recalled more than 60 million cans of pet food packaged under numerous name brands and store brands, “The Good Food Cookbook for Dogs” sold 194 copies, compared with 42 the previous week.

Other books with even more modest sales totals also showed sharp increases over the previous week: “Real Food for Dogs” sold 66 copies, up from 23, for example, and “Home-Prepared Dog and Cat Diet” sold 34, up from 8.

“Obviously people got a scare with what was going on about buying dog food, so they’re looking for an alternative,” said Ken Fund, president of Quarry Books, publisher of “The Good Food Cookbook for Dogs.”

Like other pet cookbooks, it sold out on Amazon, which is warning shoppers that they face waits as long as six weeks before their books ship.

The pet food scare started on March 19, when Menu Foods recalled 60 million cans of food, including some varieties by major brands including Iaams, Purina PetCare, Nestles and Hills Pet Nutrition, after several animals died after eating Menu pet foods in taste tests.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said yesterday that melamine, a chemical used in both plastic cutlery and fertilizer, had been found in wheat gluten used in the pet food. The F.D.A. disputed a report just two days earlier by the New York State Food Laboratory that aminopterin, a rat poison, was to blame for the deaths; the FDA found no traces of the rat poison.

Del Monte Foods became the fourth pet food manufacture to recall some products from United States retailers after the FDA said that company also had received tainted wheat gluten.

Most recipes in the books differ somewhat from human fare. Take, for example, the “Better Food for Dogs” presentation of Barbecued Hamburgers: “Cut burgers and buns into bite-size pieces. In a serving bowl, combine burgers, buns, tomato, lettuce, oil, potassium chloride and supplements. Mix thoroughly.” (None of the recipes suggest garnishes or wine pairings.)

Pet owners, meanwhile, are seeking out other books. Sales of “Dr. Pitcairn’s New Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs & Cats,” which is not a cookbook but includes some recipes, climbed to 413, more than twice the number of the week preceding the recall.

And sales nearly tripled, from 33 to 92, for an ominously titled exposé of the pet-food industry, “Food Pets Die For,” first published in 1997.

Dr. Louise Murray, director of medicine at the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in New York, feeds her own cats commercial food, but said, “There’s nothing wrong with a balanced home-cooked diet, but it’s crucial that a vet nutritionist is involved.”

But she urged caution with cats. Whereas dogs, like humans, are omnivores, she said, “cats are strict carnivores and it’s impossible to balance a cat’s diet without the help of a nutritionist because they are susceptible to nutritional deficiencies.”

Arden Moore, author of “Real Food for Dogs,” said some pet owners might cook for their pets only temporarily. “The bottom line is we want our pets safe, and it’s something you can give them in this transition period when there are still more questions than answers,” she said.

Her recipes are formulated to be toothsome for both quadruped and cook. When she makes the Canine Casserole (brown rice, ground chuck, carrots, broccoli and garlic) and Marvelous Mutt Meatballs (ground beef, Cheddar cheese, shredded carrots, bread crumbs, egg, garlic powder and tomato paste) for her dogs, Chipper and Cleo, she digs in, too. And the Leap for Liver? “They love it, but for me, no thanks. I’m not a big fan of beef liver.”

I am still searching through A9 and other search engines but still no sign of my book. This may force me to go down to the barn and “digg” through those moldy cardboard boxes stored in the barn loft.

I’m unsure why, but the cows and other livestock seem to be avoiding me. I am thinking perhaps they’ve been watching CNN.


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