Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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December 19, 2012

Family dog is on the guest list for holiday dinner

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The most prized holiday guests are those that eat with gusto, express their appreciation and lick their plates clean.

So what if some of them eat off the floor, get a little sloppy and never help with the dishes?

At Nancy Guberti's house, Flower, a 6-year-old black-and-white shih tzu, will eat the same organic turkey and spinach as Guberti's own sons.

"She's part of the family and she's such a good dog," Guberti said. "We treat her with the utmost respect, like you'd want to be treated."

Guberti, a certified nutritionist in New York City, makes a special dinner for the whole family to share five times a year — Christmas, New Year's, Easter, Thanksgiving and Flower's June 10 birthday.

Plenty of people cook for their dogs year-round, but the holidays might be the easiest time because human menus can be so easily adapted to their needs, said Sarah Zorn, a New York pet columnist for the magazine Everyday with Rachael Ray. She also creates and tests most of the pet recipes the magazine runs.

"Do unto your dog as you are doing to yourself," she said. Ingredients that are good for humans are very often good for dogs too, she said.

Dogs have millions of taste buds, said Dr. Katy Nelson. But the veterinarian said those taste buds are not really well defined — and neither is the dog's sense of smell.

"My dog thinks the garbage can smells good, so it's all subjective," Zorn said.

Nelson, who hosts "The Pet Show" on Saturdays on News Channel 8 in Washington, D.C., had guests who made turkey cakes she plans to make for Papi, her 70-pound Labradoodle, on Christmas morning.

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