WHITEWATER — Judging by the smell wafting from Fellowship Hall Monday, you might have thought the residents at Fairhaven Senior Services were baking cookies. However, one bite and you’d quickly have recanted that notion.
Fairhaven Senior Services residents celebrated International Dog Biscuit Appreciation Day Monday by making dog biscuits for several area organizations.
Staff from the Humane Society of Jefferson County, K-9 Hair Care and the Whitewater Veterinary Hospital also participated, while visiting dogs acted as official taste testers.
Residents at the senior living facility make dog treats for the humane society, K-9 Hair Care and the veterinary hospital each month. Monday marked the first time the center invited the three organizations to join in on the fun.
“We have been making and donating dogs treats for these organizations for the past number of months,” Fairhaven director of leisure services Brian Robinson said. “The impact that this event has had has been rewarding to so many people — the residents here, the staff, organizations we donate to, the pets and also their owners.”
Humane Society of Jefferson County outreach coordinator Sara Lastusky visited residents Monday with her own dog, whom she said the residents really seemed to enjoy.
“I could tell by talking with some of the residents that they had grown up with animals, and now living in a facility like Fairhaven, they are not able to have animals on their own, so they really enjoyed interacting with the dogs,” Lastusky said.
She added that receiving the donated dog biscuits is a real treat for the animal shelter’s animals, especially as the organization is so reliant on the generosity of others.
“We have to really rely on donations, being a nonprofit organization,” she explained. “And our community is very giving.”
Besides receiving the dog treats, Lastusky said that it was wonderful just to share the day with residents, noting the health benefits that can come from animal interaction.
Also attending Monday were Dr. Janet Gildner with her dog, Bubba, and Dixie Stever with her dog, Birdy, from the Whitewater Veterinary Hospital .
The origins of International Dog Biscuit Appreciation Day are unknown, but the four-paw beneficiaries don’t mind the celebration.
Serving up unusual or homemade dog treats to mark the occasion is a common and fun way to mark the day. Fairhaven’s own recipe consists of peanut butter, oatmeal and flour. The residents mix the ingredients themselves and then roll and flatten the dough, which is cut into different shapes, including dog bones.
The first dog biscuits were developed in the mid-19th century by American manufacturer James Spratt. He came up with the idea after visiting Liverpool, England, where he observed stray dogs hungrily tucking into ship’s biscuits.
The first Spratt’s dog biscuits were produced in London, with a secret recipe, including both meat and vegetables. Before Spratt’s, dog treats often were made from stale, moldy bread, rotting leftovers and rock-hard biscuits made out of grain.
Today, dog biscuits are often used in training and as rewards in the dog show ring. There are even special types of biscuit that can clean a dogs’ teeth.