I'm sitting here listening to the happy crackle of raw beef ribs in the jaws of two dogs. The border collie mostly polishes and gnaws hers, while the Malinois, a more serious dog in all respects, methodically squeezes the bones like a nutcracker until they snap. They have been at it for over an hour. An hour I didn't have to entertain and manage them. Did I mention what wonderful things raw bones are?

Not only are they keeping out of trouble, they are getting health benefits from the meat and bone. Did I mention I hate taking them to the vet, brushing their teeth, and having them scoot their bums on the carpet? Raw bones polish teeth, preventing bad breath and bad teeth. Undigested fragments of bones put fiber in the dog's system, improving anal gland function, a frequent cause of that disturbing rear-end scooting.

Two or three raw bones a week will greatly enhance your dog's life. Pork bones should be frozen for at least 3 weeks to kill bacteria and parasites. Chicken thighs have a small, sharp bone alongside the larger bone that may be removed for safety. The rest of the chicken carcass is fine. I prefer beef ribs because they are such a convenient size and long-lasting. Never give dogs cooked bones, as they will splinter into sharp pieces.