Cibaria

Dog-Food

This is part 3 of 3. Part 1 is here. Part 2 is here.

Cibaria fere eadem sunt utrique generi praebenda. nam si tam laxa rura sunt, ut sustineant pecorum greges, omnis sine discrimine hordeacea farina cum sero commode pascit. sin autem surculo consitus ager sine pascuo est, farreo vel triticeo pane satiandi sunt, admixto tamen liquore coctae fabae, sed tepido, nam fervens rabiem creat. huic quadripedi neque feminae neque mari nisi post annum permittenda venus est, quae si teneris conceditur, carpit et corpus et vires animosque degenerat. primus effetae partus amovendus est, quoniam tiruncula nec recte nutrit et educatio totius habitus aufert incrementum. mares iuveniliter usque in annos decem progenerant, post id tempus ineundis feminis non videntur habiles, quoniam seniorum pigra suboles existit. feminae concipiunt usque in annos novem nec sunt utiles post decimum. catulos sex mensibus primis, dum corroborentur, emitti non oportet nisi ad matrem lusus ac lasciviae causa. postea catenis per diem continendi et noctibus solvendi, nec umquam eos, quorum generosam volumus indolem conservare, patiemur alienae nutricis uberibus educari, quoniam semper et lac et spiritus maternus longe magis ingenii atque incrementa corporis auget. quod si et feta lacte deficitur, caprinum maxime conveniet praeberi catulis, dum fiant mensum quattuor. nominibus autem non longissimis appellandi sunt, quo celerius quisque vocatus exaudiat, nec tamen brevioribus quam quae duabus syllabis enuntiantur, sicuti Graecum est Σκύλαξ, Latinum Ferox, Graecum Λάκων, Latinum Celer; vel femina, ut sunt Graeca Σπουδή, Ἀλκή, Ῥώμη; Latina Lupa, Cerva, Tigris. catulorum caudas post diem quadragensimum, quam sint editi, sic castrare conveniet. nervus est, qui per articulos spinae prorepit usque ad ultimam partem caudae; is mordicus conprehensus et aliquatenus eductus abrumpitur, quo facto neque in longitudinem cauda foedum capit incrementum, et, ut plurimi pastores adfirmant, rabies arcetur, letifer morbus huic generi.
(Columella, De Re Rustica 7.12.10-14)

Practically the same food should be given to both types of dog. If the farm is extensive enough to support herds of cattle, barley-flour with whey is a suitable food for all dogs without distinction; but if the land is closely planted with young shoots and affords no pasture, they must be given their fill of bread made from emmer or wheaten flour, mixed, however, with the liquid of boiled beans, which must be lukewarm, for, if it is boiling, it causes madness. Neither dogs nor bitches must be allowed to have sexual intercourse until they are a year old; for if they are allowed to do so when they are quite young, it enfeebles their bodies and their strength, and causes them to degenerate mentally. The first puppies which a bitch produces must be taken from her, because at the first attempt she does not nourish them properly and the rearing of them hinders her general bodily growth. Dogs procreate vigorously up to ten years of age, but beyond that they do not seem suitable for covering bitches, for the offspring of an elderly dog turns out to be slow and lazy. Bitches conceive up to nine years of age, but are not serviceable after the tenth year. Puppies should not be allowed to run loose during the first six months, until they are grown strong, except to join their mother in sport and play; later they should be kept on the chain during the day and let loose at night. We should never allow those whose noble qualities we wish to preserve, to be brought up at the dugs of any strange bitch, since its mother’s milk and spirit always does much more to foster the growth of their minds and bodies. But if a bitch which has a litter is deficient in milk, it will be best to provide goats’ milk for the puppies until they are four months old. Dogs should be called by names which are not very long, so that each may obey more quickly when he is called, but they should not have shorter names than those which are pronounced in two syllables,” such as the Greek Σκύλαξ (puppy) and the Latin Ferox (savage), the Greek Λάκων (Spartan) and the Latin Celer (speedy) or, for a bitch, the Greek Σπουδή (zeal), Ἀλκή (Valour), Ῥώμη (strength) or the Latin Lupa (she-wolf), Cerva (hind) and Tigris (tigress). It will be found best to cut the tails of puppies forty days after birth in the following manner: there is a nerve, which passes along through the joints of the spine down to the extremity of the tail; this is taken between the teeth and drawn out a little way and then broken. As a result, the tail never grows to an ugly length and (so many shepherds declare) rabies, a disease which is fatal to this animal, is prevented. (tr. Edward S. Forster & Edward H. Heffner)

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