About the Holiday
People have holidays celebrating their favorite treats—like Cherry Pie Day and Chocolate Chip Cookie Day—so dogs should have a food holiday of their own, right? Well, today is it! Today we remember that our best furry friends like to be rewarded with a special treat or just shown a little extra love with a tasty morsel.
Before anyone thought about what dogs ate, dog “treats” included some pretty awful stuff—moldy bread, rotten leftovers…but an American named James Spratt was struck by an idea when he saw stray, hungry dogs looking for food on one of his travels in England in the 1800s. He created the first dog biscuit, which was more like cake, made of fresh ingredients such as meat, grain, and vegetables. The first commercial dog biscuit was developed in 1908 by the F. H. Bennett Biscuit Co. It was hard and made with meat products, milk, and important minerals.
By Helen Cooper
In Helen Cooper’s delightfully evocative Dog Biscuit, Bridget can’t resist eating a treat from the enticing bag she finds in Mrs. Blair’s shed. The biscuit looks like a people cookie; it even tastes good—salty and sweet—but really it’s meant for a dog, not a little girl! Mrs. Blair shakes her head when she recognizes the crumbs around Bridget’s mouth and teases that now Bridget will turn into a dog. As children often do with adults’ jokes, Bridget takes this notion literally, setting in motion a day-long flight of fancy—with a bit of trepidation.
Bridget’s imagination runs as wild as a pack of dogs—does that itch behind her ears mean they’re growing? How is it possible she’s wagging goodbye? And did Mrs. Blair’s dog really just say it used to be a real boy? She begins to regret eating that biscuit but is determined not to tell her mother, especially since she doesn’t seem to notice any difference in her daughter.
As she and her mother walk home from Mrs. Blair’s, Bridget suddenly finds herself awakened to a new world. She identifies with every dog she meets, savors the aroma of the butcher shop, and forgets her people manners at the dinner table. Still, her mother doesn’t notice. Before finally curling up and falling asleep, Bridget again wishes she hadn’t eaten that biscuit.
In sleep Bridget unleashes her full imagination, romping with a pack of new friends through familiar sites now transformed into a mystical doggy paradise that makes her very glad she ate that biscuit—that is until she thinks of her family and howls. At last her mom, who was indeed aware of her daughter’s turmoil, can comfort her. In her mother’s arms Bridget reveals her fears and allows herself to be reassured.
The next day Bridget visits Mrs. Blair, who explains that she was joking and apologizes for worrying her. Over tea and “human being treats” Bridget happily leaves puppyhood behind.
Author-illustrator Helen Cooper beautifully captures Bridget’s imagination, turmoil, and joyous abandon through her vibrant illustrations that are awash in color, swirling lines, clever details, and the use of various type sizes and fonts. Wide-eyed Bridget, her family, Mrs. Blair, and the many dogs that populate this book are exquisitely drawn. Kids will love sniffing out the hidden dogs on every page.
A recipe for Human-Being Treats is included.
Ages 4 – 8
Farrar Straus and Giroux, New York, 2009 | ISBN 978-0374318123
National Dog Biscuit Day Activity
Homemade Dog Treats
Making homemade dog biscuits is a fun way to spend time together and benefit furry friends. These biscuits make tasty treats for your own pet or consider making a batch to donate to your local animal shelter. This recipe is easy and proven to be a favorite.
Children should get help from an adult when using the oven.
- 1 large bowl
- Large spoon or whisk
- Cookie cutters – shaped like traditional dog biscuits or any favorite shape
- 3 cups Buckwheat flour
- ½ cup powdered milk
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¾ cup water
- 1/3 cup margarine or butter, melted
- 1 egg beaten
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees
- Add buckwheat flour to bowl
- Add powdered milk to bowl
- Add salt to bowl
- Stir to mix dry ingredients
- Add water
- Add melted margarine or butter
- Add egg
- Stir until liquid is absorbed
- Knead for a few minutes to form a dough
- If the dough is too dry, add a little more water, 1 Tablespoon at a time
- Place the dough on a board
- Roll dough to ½ inch thickness
- Cut into shapes with cookie cutters
- Bake at 325 degrees for 35 minutes
- Biscuits will be hard when cool.
Makes about 40 biscuits