A Meatless Meal For Animal Lovers

I have always been an “animal person.” You know the type. The kind of person who grew up worshipping the family dog, who wanted to be a veterinarian as child, and who declared vegetarianism in some stance of teenage defiance.

Since becoming an “adult,” one of my top priorities has been to get a dog. The responsibility is something I never took lightly, so I continually put it off. I never had the money, the time, or the space. I wanted to move and travel too much. Even when I moved back home for good, I continued to put it off because I couldn’t find “the one.” The dog I wanted to spend the next 10+ years of my life with.

Well, we all know what happened. I got cancer and found myself with a lot of time to spend all by myself at home. Then one day I stumbled across the dog. During this dark time in my life, I suddenly have a bright light brought to me every day in the form of my new pet.

I love my little Buster Bartholomew to pieces. But a recent Globe and Mail article called “The problem with loving your dog too much” got me thinking.

I already frequently joke that I don’t want to be “one of those” dog owners. The type that posts pictures of their dog all the time (okay, I already do), the kind that talks about their quirks all the time (I do that too), or who constantly speaks to them in a high pitched voice (oh, dear…). Well, at least I didn’t dress Buster up for Halloween! Although, I secretly really wanted to put a King Charles crown on him.

The article got me thinking about how there are a lot of dog owners out there who don’t treat their dogs like… Dogs. It reminded me that not everyone is a head over heels dog person like I am, who will stop strangers on the street just to talk about the dog they’re walking.

But at the same time, it got me wondering, to what detriment is there to loving your dog too much?

Buster does more than just give me something other than myself to think about for once. He does more than keep me company all day, and keep me active by wagging his tail by the front door every afternoon. He doesn’t care that I’m sick. He isn’t nicer to me because of it, nor does he ask me how I’m feeling every hour.

So what if dogs are a children replacement? Because of chemotherapy there is a decent chance I will be infertile when all of this is over. Maybe loving and caring for a dog is the closest I’ll ever get to being a mom. Sounds a lot easier too.

The article, while a worthwhile read, unfortunately only skims the surface and doesn’t really get to the heart of the matter. There’s a decent conversation that opens up on the comments over how “dog people” should socialize with their dog-weary counterparts. Because lets face it, dog people and non-dog people really do exist, and there really is a difference between the two.

I guess the take home point would be that it’s good to remember that dogs are not people, nor can our relationships with them replace the ones we should have with humans. But at the same time, I admit that I have no shame in loving my dog a little too much sometimes. So what if I love him like maybe I could love a child? Or jump over hoops to keep him happy? It’s all because he keeps me just as, if not more happy. To me, it’s all worth it.

In honour of our animal friends I’ve got an incredible meatless meal to share with you today!

Chickpea Pot Pie with a Whole Grain Crust

I used this recipe, making the following changes:

  • 5 cups broth instead of 6
  • 3 cans of chickpeas instead of 1
  • omitted noodles
  • omitted parmesan cheese
  • made my own crust!

While there is nothing wrong with a little puff pastry, I really wanted to get nutritional value out of all components of this dish. I opted for a whole grain crust from this recipe, choosing that particular one simply because I’d had success with it before (using canola oil).

I just made the dough and flattened it out to the dimensions of a 9×11 baking dish, then let it chill in the fridge until I was ready to place it over top. As for the filling, I noticed that there was too much of it to put into one pot, so I ended up layering the frozen peas and beans with the hot contents in the dish to avoid having to switch to a larger pot and it worked perfectly.

The results were fantastic! I wholeheartedly recommend this recipe. I didn’t miss the chicken at all and thought the flavour and texture of the chickpeas blended in really well. I was also quite pleased by how the whole grain crust held up. Not quite the light pastry you’re used to, but definitely helped this meatless dish keep my belly satisfied for the remainder of the evening.

Now if only I could convince my puppy that he isn’t a human and his dinner is the crunchy stuff on the floor…

Posted on November 10, 2011, in Baking, Buster, Pets, Recipes and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 61 Comments.

  1. Great post, Susan. For me, I’d just substitute “dog” for “cat”! (I do think I have a dog person lurking inside of me; I’ve just never owned one. I’ve had cats all my life though and adore them!)

    • Ohyes, same goes with cat people! I’m not big into the dogs vs. cats thing though because I love them ALL :) I think a lot of it has to do with if you had pets growing up too. Most people I know who aren’t into pets never had ones as kids.

  2. It’s funny, I was never an animal person at all until recently. Now when I see cute dogs I go crazy. It is so nice to love someone, and even an animal, to put your thoughts away from yourself. And if I had a dog like yours I would easily be obsessed!! This chickpea pot pie looks amazing!

  3. My dad’s a dog behaviorist, and he’d argue that the problem with loving a dog too much is often that the owner lets him get away with things that he shouldn’t be getting away with. It can also cause pretty bad separation anxiety, which in some situations means that the dog will tear up the house when the beloved owner leaves.

    In any case, so happy that you have that little guy with you now. I know you both are happier because of it. I’m new(ish) to your blog, but I’m dedicated! Thanks for continuing to write.

    • YES. Separation anxiety is my biggest issue with Buster right now. I’ve been working on it and *think* it’s slowly getting better. I’d like to have him not flip out when I go back to work full time. Apparently it’s one of the biggest breed issues with cavaliers. Thankfully he doesn’t pee or chew things, but he’ll bark and yelp for an hour after I leave (I know, because we have a tenant in the house who has to listen to it!). I think it’s sometimes good to be a tough dog mom when I have to be because it’s better for his emotional state in the long run.

      • We went through major separation anxiety issues with Pippa. I think she is finally outgrowing it, and moving into a bigger space seems to have helped (in our tiny apartment there was literally no space between us; now she is getting used to being away from us while we’re in different parts of the house). We did all the silly exercises like walking in and out of your front door 20 times with your keys (to desensitize). I think if you do enough repetition they start to “get” it–that you’re not leaving forever.

        Are you crate training Buster? We went through three crates with Pippa (destroyed or she hurt herself trying to get out) before we decided that the crate was not right for her. It seemed to intensify the separation anxiety.

        Sorry for the blabbing, but I feel you.

        • I am crate training Buster. We have two crates here – one for small dogs and one for the boxer that is here occasionally, and he seems to do better in the big one oddly. We’ve gotten to the point where Buster is fine being left with another human (he used to freak out when I left, but now he’ll attach himself to just about anyone). And he’s fine chilling in the crate by himself when I’m home. But being left alone still leads to him barking and whining for at least an hour. I don’t think it helps that I’m home with him most days, so it’s not often he’s alone. It may work better if there was a schedule around it rather than just “Surprise! Mommy is disappearing for a couple hours!” Ideally, I’d like to someday be able to leave him alone in the house. Although, when I go back to work I’ll be dropping him off at my mom’s so he’s not alone aaalll day.

        • I totally thought of you when I read this comment! I’m glad your issues are getting resolved. Separation anxiety isn’t usually something that cats go through however, Ellie was bottle fed by our neighbor who rescued her and she told me that Ellie wouldn’t even let her take a shower she was so attached (for a while anyway!). That would explain why she became such a lap cat. She’s mellowed in recent months though (sadly for me!)

  4. I agree that there’s a fine line between loving your dog and loving it like it’s a human.

    Now, I’m totally a cat person and I’ll be the first to admit that I swoon over my cats, talk baby to them and treat them like my children.

    But, there’s a limit too. A good friend of mine rescued a dog that had been abused. As a result of the abuse this dog could not be left alone due to separation anxiety. Well, instead of helping the dog through the anxiety and perhaps using behavioral techniques to reduce the anxiety the doggy was feeling, she basically took on the “I’m gonna stay home with my dog if that’s what it’s gonna take”.

    This behavior went on for over a year. She either wouldn’t leave the house because of the dog and when and if she did she’d have to take him with her. Thankfully, we talked some sense into her and now she’s sorta back to living a quasi normal life but still, she went through a time where she hardly socialized or enjoyed her life because the dog couldn’t be left alone.

    P.S your king charles is absolutely adorable. We were looking to adopt one a couple of years ago but couldn’t find a breeder anywhere nearby!

    • Yes, totally agree that you are doing no one any favours by doing what your friend did! I think “loving” a dog includes doing what’s best for them (and you!), even if in the moment it doesn’t seem like the nicest thing to do. That includes teaching them to be at home by themselves even though they hate it in the beginning. Something I’m still working on with Buster!

  5. I have a Cavalier too and they are such companion dogs that they do get upset when you leave. I found that limiting him to a small area of the house provides him a “safe space” that he feels is like his den has helped with the separation issue. I also leave an old t-shirt with my smell on it and he usually curls up and sleeps on that. Also, I always give him a treat as I’m leaving the house and that helped him focus on the positive of me leaving and has stopped him from getting so upset. They are the best dogs though! The definition of unconditional love.

  6. awww, he is too cute sitting at the table!

    i am 100% a dog person and i think i fit all of those annoying criteria you mentioned earlier. you know what’s funny? my mother in law was NEVER a dog person. she didn’t like petting them or if they brushed up against her because they’d get her dirty. but after we got our first dog, she fell in love with him and now calls him her grand-puppy! she actually CRIES when we go home now because she’ll miss him, not us.

    i think that’s a little extreme, but our dogs are pretty wonderful!

    i’m so happy you have buster now! :)

    • One of the top complaints I hear against dogs is that they are dirty. But seeing as I’m an immunosuppressed person, I just take greater care to make sure my dog is clean. With Buster, it’s not that hard because he’s so small and kinda prissy to begin with ;) And really, I think the chance of me getting sick from something that a human family member caught at work or school is just as high.

  7. As a cat ‘person’ I totally can relate to loving my cats SO much…perhaps too much, at times. They’ve been with me through my divorce and honestly, they kept me going. They are supportive, they know me and my moods, they cuddle when I need them and are just the cutest things ever. I don’t think you can love your pets too much…maybe I am biased in saying that, but I just don’t think you can. And you have the most cutest pup ever, look at that face. Seriously.

  8. I’m so happy that you got your cute pup and that he brings so much happiness to your life. I’m definitely a dog person and am that girl that talks to her dog constantly (yes, often in a high pitch voice) but she really does complete our life and is totally a child replacement. A much easier child, that can be kenneled if need be. And can be left at home all day. Alone. I love her.

  9. You have such a good head on your shoulders – I love your point of view on dogs (and the article) – and I completely agree with your feelings! Also – I just about died at that last picture!!!! (also – the one of him on his back next to the computer – but I already cheated and saw that on instagram!) Thank you for being my wisest blogging friend! :)

  10. I loved your post. I sometimes feel like I love my dog too much but he loves back unconditionally so I just have to :) I will try the recipe. It looks yummy!

  11. Oh that face, what a doll. I sometimes think I am too overboard with my dog also. My daughter often says I love the dog more than her.Since she is a teenager, sometimes this is true. :)

  12. ummm, you are preaching to the choir Susan! I love our dog soooo much.. At one point on facebook my profile pictures were ONLY of my dog… after about.. um say I donno… 6 months I change my profile picture, and put one of myself up there, and all my friends commented things like, “oh so that is what you really look like. nice” haha


  13. I grew up with parents who were not into pets and for a long time didn’t understand pet people. Then I got a cat and became a cat person. Then I added a dog and now I’m a dog and cat person! Cocoa is my husband’s dog and while he will love on me a little he prefers Todd. Buttercup the cat on the other hand is all mine. She does everything with me. She is very dog like. She watches for me at the window, meets me at the dog, follows me around, and snuggles up next to me at night. Honestly it’s a little oppressive sometimes but I love her!

    Buster is so flipping cute! I love him sitting at the table. I’d have a hard time setting boundaries looking into his sweet little face!

  14. I am also a dog lover and probably treat my dog better than most children are treated… ha ha.. is that wrong ;-) I love seeing pics of Buster – last one is priceless and the one with him by your computer with his belly up saying “scratch my belly mom” is one I can identify with. Keep ’em coming!

  15. OMG….those pics are absolutely adorable. I’m so glad you and Buster found each other :)

  16. Love this post!! I am totally one of “those” dog owners, and proud of it!!

  17. Buster is adorable. Keep posting “those” pictures!!

  18. Aw he looks so cute with his head resting on the table!

  19. Those pictures of Buster are SO precious. I don’t care what anyone else says, I could look at pictures of cute dogs all day long. I’ve never owned a dog, but if I had the time to dedicate to you, you can bet that I’d get one!


  20. Hi Susan, I have two dogs one is 4 and the other is 2, they get lots of affection from me but over the last year they had become more aggressive towards guests and especially other dogs, and there was lots of barking. I know different breeds can have their issues, like you said cavaliers can have separation anxiety. I just wanted to tell you that my life has changed significantly after watching the first season of Cesar Millan’s show The Dog Whisperer, I took the lessons very seriously and the change in my dogs is phenomenal and I still give them lots of affection.

    There was an episode where he helped a woman deal with separation anxiety in her dog, but I can’t remember which one.

    I hope you are doing well :)


    • I will have to find that episode of The Dog Whisper! I watch it all the time, but I find a lot of the episodes deal with aggressive or fearful dogs, two things most cavaliers are not ;) It’s interesting too how dogs can change over time. I’ve noticed that a lot of bad dog habits seem to appear after a few years…

  21. I love all animals and as an adult have cats. I’d love a dog one day, but like you it isn’t a a responsibility I take lightly and my current lifestyle doesn’t permit it.

    I think the problem between ‘animal’ and ‘non-animal’ people is the lack of respect that can exist. I know the life I live isn’t for everyone but people who begrudge me the money or time I choose to spend on or with my pets make me so angry. I go out of my way to create as cat-free an environment as I can when people who don’t like them come to visit. I spend a lot of time cleaning and have been told by people that they had no idea how many cats I had until they came out from napping.

    We don’t have to agree on how much love or energy or resources we direct toward our pets is an okay or excessive amount. But we do need to agree to disagree.

    I also think that we shouldn’t limit the ‘excessive’ loving to pet guardians. I’ve seen it happen to parents as well. A friend of mine gave up everything that mattered to her when she had her baby and still refuses to spend the night away from her 6 year old son, despite the fact that his limited social experience in his younger years has lead to him developing severe seperation anxiety and selective mutism as he starts school.

    • Yes, the worst thing a person could ever say to an animal lover is “it’s just a dog” or “it’s just a cat.” I’m not sure where it became okay to criticize how one takes care of their pet, when most people know to keep their mouths shut about how their friends parent their children. I know pets and children are WAY different, but it doesn’t mean the love for pets is any less real!

  22. Fabulous post! I’ve been lurking here for a while and enjoying your thoughts, as well as your dog pics, but wanted to let you know that King Charles spaniels are now known as “Busters” in our house!! He is TRULY adorable!

  23. Buster is such a love–how could you NOT love him “too much”? Honestly, I probably do love my dogs too much by most people’s standards, but I don’t see how it’s hurting anyone, including them. I completely agree with you…dogs aren’t people, and we should recognize that, but that doesn’t mean we can’t love them to our heart’s content (and theirs). When did too much love become a negative thing, anyway? The world needs more puppy love! :)

    P.S. I want that pie. Thanks.

  24. Pets are great in the right situations. Your situation is perfectly ideal. You’re allowed to be all about your dog because with you being sick he’s your little mood booster, happy company and snuggle buddy. I mean, how can that go wrong?! hehe

  25. Oh Buster….what a cutie. I definitely push the limits according to that article with Niko. In fact, when all of my pregnant/mom friends talk about babies, it’s all I can take to not join in the conversation with a story about Niko! Lol

    This pot pie sounds amazing! That was always one of my favorites growing up.

  26. If you want a relaxing, funny, cute and often heart-warming way to waste time while actually learning pet-rearing skills (and how to treat your dog like a dog), you should watch the dog whisperer. Most reality TV shows dish out terrible advice, but Cesar really focuses on remembering your dog is a dog, and showinng how you can love your dog while still providing the discipline it needs, and treating it like a dog not a person.

    • Yes! I already watch it and read one of his books! I find a lot of the episodes are repetitive, but I agree with and try to practice a lot of the things he teaches. I really like how he is always reminding people not to assume their animals are over-thinking things. I think we tend to give our dogs more cognitive credit when really a lot with them is so instinctual.

  27. I agree with the above about letting dogs get away with things they shouldn’t get away with. I have trouble with that and I’m paying for it with potty issues.

    But honestly, I love my dogs like I think I would love a child. I know it would be different if I ever have kids, but right now its all I can imagine. This is the first time that I’ve truly had dogs that were my (and my husbands) responsibility. I feel guilt when they suffer, I feel joy when they are having fun, and I feel at peace when they are zonked out on the couch next to me. I can’t imagine having anything different (except maybe no pooping in the house).

    • Oh, I know, I am trying SO hard to stick to my ground when Buster misbehaves and I have to be a meanie when he looks up at me with those big eyes. Buster already thinks he belongs on my lap all day every day, which is totally my fault for letting him. Not that I always mind ;)

  28. Recipe looks awesome! Gonna have to give it a try for sure!
    Dog lover- right here!! Never was before, but now will always be. I think sometimes we ‘over love’ our ‘baby’, a chocolate lab named Bella….but she’s just do darn cute, you just can’t help it!!
    They definately make the bad days easier!

  29. I am probably more of a cat person (ok probably a lot more) than a dog person, but I too have a dog and treat him just like a human. You can’t help it. They love you no matter what. They are always happy to see you and are simply happy to just be by your side (or on your lap). They never expect much else from you. Your puppy is so beautiful. I NEVER tire of looking at pictures of him. That face just says “Won’t you love me?” I can always depend on my animals to make me happy – when humans tend to let you down.

  30. I honestly believe you can not love your pet too much. They become a huge part of our family and we treat them as such.

  31. I am completely an animal person, They are the best and I agree with everything you said. I noticed you wrote that Buster yelps for an hour or so after you leave, my cav, Riley did and does the same thing still and he is 5 years old. I never could figure out how to stop it, only if he felt very secure or there was someone else home to be with him. Cavs are very much people dogs, they love big families. Good luck. That meal looks amazing, I will be trying that soon, for sure.

    • I’ve gotten similar feedback about cavs from other people. Thankfully, I have a big family who love him, so there’s usually someone around to look after him when I can’t. But still, once or twice a week I need to run out for an errand or appointment, and it would be nice if my pup was secure enough not to yelp the whole time I’m gone! And when I go back to work, there will be days here and there where my mom can’t take him and I’ll need to leave him home for longer periods. I’d like to get him more relaxed and quiet by the time I’m off sick leave. I’ll let you know if I make any progress with him :)

  32. Your dog is just too cute!

  33. Ahhh… welcome to MY world! :D Susan, did you know there’s dog shows and obedience trials happening in Moncton this weekend? If you’re allowed to go, I’m sure you would enjoy watching some of the obedience dogs do their thing in the ring! :o)

    Also,on Sunday afternoon in Freddy Beach, there’s a seminar on dog behaviour by a veterinary behaviourist (Dr Gary Landsberg)… it’s from 1-4 at the Sheraton ($65). If you decide to go, maybe I’ll see you there. :o)

    • If that was happening in Moncton I would SO be there! I’ll have to start keeping my eyes open for things like that here. Although, I’m going to be kind of a hermit over the next six weeks. That’s all I have left for treatment, and with flu season I’m being particularly careful not to go out too much so I can make it through to the end without getting sick! Have fun today!

  34. Those are some pretty cute Buster photos…I watched a CBC documentary that I think put the number of dog owners in Canada as somewhere around 17 million…basically one in every two people in Canada has a dog. After having knocked on a lot of doors for political campaigning that ratio sort of makes sense to me but stil wow! Dog people and non-dog people indeed!

    As a person who has never really wanted a pet myself, I can’t always relate to pet lovers (how are we related again???), but regardless I really believe this quote from the article to be true: “The world is complex and often unkind, so what’s wrong with celebrating something that is a simple source of joy?”

  35. This is a wonderful post, Susan! So thoughtful and I can tell you really love Buster! I had to comment especially because we have 2 Cavaliers and we also have that Winne the Pooh blanket and it is one of their favorite ones to lie on. I just thought that was a funny coincidence :)

    • Ha! That is too funny. I keep that blanket on my bed for Buster. He likes to pretend he’s digging a hole in it before he goes to bed, and that way he doesn’t mess up my nicer comforter ;)

  36. That last picture of your dog is so adorable! I am also guilty of loving my dog a little too much, so I totally relate!

  37. OMG Buster is SO CUTE!

  38. I read that article when it first came out and like you I thought – well what’s the harm!?!?

    I’m not completely bananas but we all know that Daisy Cakes (that’s right Globe and Mail – she has a middle name) is my fur baby. And although I totally let her run around and be a dog, I dressed her up for Halloween (she was a mighty cute bee) and I threw her a birthday party.

    But you know what? Just like Buster does with you, Daisy gives us SO much more than we could ever give her!!! The last three years in this city haven’t been the easiest but I can honestly say things took a turn for the better when we got Daisy.

    I would never want to go back to my pre-puppy days – not now that I know how good life can be! And the Globe and Mail can just bite me! lol :P

  39. Correction: the behaviour seminar in F’ton is at the Crowne Plaza…not Sheraton. Oops! :o)

  40. Susan, such an endearing story–there is nothing quite like an animal friend. The chickpea pot pie looks great, too. I will continue to enjoy your blog, and I hope you’ll enjoy mine, too. :)

  41. We never had a dog growing up, but last year after my Dad died and my Mom was in therapy, her therapist suggested she get a dog…Maddie (Shih Tzu) joined our family in August and Murphy (another Shih Tzu) joined our family just a few months ago. Dogs are wonderful and I’m so sad I went 30 years without having one!!!!

  42. So timely!! I feel that dogs and cats are a huge part of our society. Just today, Derek and I decided to switch up a bunch of our upcoming travel plans to save him traveling cross country an extra two times. This meant that I need to send the kitties to LA with him and BE WITHOUT THEM FOR 3 WHOLE DAYS!! I’m dying! Seriously. Dying. I don’t know how I’ll survive all by myself. (Obviously, I can survive relatively well without Derek but not the cats??! haha).

    I don’t mind you becoming “that dog person” as I would have to wonder about you if you didn’t become her. Mr. B. Bartholomew is just about the cutest thing I’ve seen. What a sweetie.

  43. OHMYGOSH i am DYING at that last photo! What a sweetie!!

    I firmly believe one can never love a dog TOO much. You just can’t. That’s impossible. Clearly I am one of THOSE dog people, but still.. dogs are just as important as humans in my eyes. And loving a dog as much as a parent loves a child is where I am in life. I really don’t want human kids, but I have a lot of love to give.. to my pups :)

    Also–Penny has those same spotty lips, don’t you LOVE them?!

  44. i love that dog!

  45. I just made this recipe today at the recommendation of Marlene from Mission to another marathon and it.was.AWESOME!! I have been on a chip/junk food train lately, so this comfort food dish was a welcome get me back on track meal. Thanks so much!!

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