Feeding Cheese to Dogs

A few months ago, I hit upon an unexpected pleasure: providing dogs with treats. I always take a lunch/dinner to the river with me that includes cheese, lunchmeat, and crackers. Whenever I see my friend Jim’s dog, Katie, I give her little pieces of Tillamook sharp cheddar. At some point, I offered some to another dog (I can’t remember which one now) and realized the profound satisfaction of experiencing canine gratitude. This led me to start cutting up extra cheese for all the dogs I see. Of course, I always ask their moms and dads if it’s okay to give it to them. Almost all say yes. Many are amused and delighted that I’d go to the trouble and expense. (Really? How much can a teensy piece of cheese cost?) This not-so-random act of canine kindness proved so fulfilling, so much the antithesis of the demands and expectations in my life, that I began telling people I was embarking on a new career path: sitting by the river and feeding cheese to dogs.


While this park isn’t an official dog park, many people bring their furry friends here, and it’s far more common for them to be off-leash than on. I’m not a dog person, but I love watching dogs play, seeing the joyous way their bodies move. They really know how to have a good time. And while I’m not big on their doggy smell, or how they use their tongues the way a two-year-old kid uses his hands, I have the presence of mind to blame most bad behavior on the owner, rather than the animal. Watching a dog galumphing after a ball, seeing two of them frolic together upon meeting for the first time, or witnessing the devotion on a canine’s face as he gazes up at his human, I kind of wish I were a dog person.

Winston with a big stick

Grinning Winston

Here at the river, most of the dogs are well behaved, and their owners conscientious. That’s been a big factor in my growing appreciation for these animals. It also helps that the canine regulars have such distinctive and charming personalities. Katie is seventeen years old, sweet and gentle, with a face that always seems to be smiling. Winston, who also sports an adorable grin, is very set in his ways. His toy of choice is a baseball bat, and he has a fondness for very big sticks. Abby wants to be snuggled even more than she wants bites of cheese. She can sit and do handshakes, and whenever she’d like another treat she’ll offer me her paw, unbidden.


Buddy is a young boxer who can leap four feet off the ground. He runs with an easy lope, his back paws almost seeming to have a mind of their own, performing little leaps and dance steps as he moves. Watching him play with other dogs, back end bouncing and twisting like a gymnast’s, is pure delight. Ollie, a pug so dark she looks black, has the endearing quirk of cocking her head whenever you say her name. She’s very sweet-tempered, opening her mouth expectantly to let me tuck the treat right inside. Lola, a bull terrier rescue, is as inclined to take a finger as a piece of cheese, but she doesn’t mean to. I’ve learned to offer the treat on a flat palm, forcing her to use her tongue. She, Abby, and Winston have all come to expect this Tillamookian bounty. They trot straight to me the moment they get here, and if I’m not around, their owners tell me they’ll circle my usual spot, looking for me.


One of my projects this summer has been to read Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s blog posts about author branding and brainstorm ways to incorporate that information into my publishing business. But the other day I had an epiphany. Without intending to, I’ve been branding myself here at the river. I’m that crazy person who spent seven hours clearing the mud off the path last spring. The writer who uses this place as an outdoor office. The quirky individual who put up the Baby Groot sign. And, to dogs, the Cheese Lady.


I’m sure there’s an amusing lesson in this. Maybe a way to illustrate what the term “branding” means. But to me, the important thing is I’ve discovered another aspect of who I am. And it all began with feeding cheese to dogs.


“Feeding Cheese to Dogs,” copyright © 2017 by Lisa Nowak. If you enjoy my books and want to make it easier for me to write them, please consider one of the following:

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6 Responses to Feeding Cheese to Dogs

  1. speak766 says:

    Lovely post and adorable pictures. It’s so great you are doing this and have connected with these wonderful animals. Wish you all the best – speak766


  2. RoseL says:

    My last dog loved cheese but it caused a bad side effect–diarrhea! My cats love cheese as well but I do it in moderation. They love their kitty dentabites so each night they get a few. I just climb in bed and say DOES ANYONE WANT A NIGHT NIGHT TREAT? and they come running!


    • Lisa Nowak says:

      I only give them tiny pieces, like about a quarter of what you could fit on a Wheat Thin. They each get about three pieces that size, and I ask first in case they’re on a special diet.

      That’s so cute about your cats coming running when you ask if they want a treat. 🙂


  3. patriciawa says:

    Fido – the faithful one!

    I’ve just had an epiphany,
    Passing strange for an agnostic
    Whose only daily litany
    Sought help with the Times acrostic.
    I know now that there is a God
    Who hears me and who answers prayers.
    He came here in the shape of Dog
    To cheer me up, relieve my cares.
    He shows me how I should behave,
    To be patient and more cheerful.
    He stays close by, a watchful slave,
    `Cos I’m old and sometimes fearful.
    So thank you, Dog, for being here
    On days I do my wondering why.
    You comfort me — so warm, so near,
    Teaching me to rest, content to die!

    That word ‘epiphany’ should now be linked to you from my own post in praise of dogs – that’s if I can remember how to link! Thank you Lisa!


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