When told we were expecting our little litter of puppies, a dear and close friend exclaimed, “aah, I so love puppy breath! It’s so sweet” I thought she was plum crazy. No dog had pleasant breath let alone a puppy. In the following weeks, several more friends made the same comment in varying degrees. We heard everything from, “puppy breath is so precious!” to “I just love their little breath!” to “their breath is adorable!” Seriously? What planet are these people from? It’s a dog’s breath for criss-cross sake. I would politely smile, but under my own breath, I would mumble “good lawd” to Malcolm, who was trying in vain to keep a straight face.
It wasn’t until the puppies were old enough to be held and played with that I started to get an inkling of what my friends meant. With their still pink little noses, at three-n-half weeks old, our little ones were just starting on softened puppy chow. They were old enough to be cuddled and held up close against our necks, while we absently rubbed their soft ears. At five to six weeks, we were bringing our herd of yipping mutts outside to their playpen to enjoy the fresh air and the still warm fall days. Malcolm dragged a huge wooden rocking chair into the pen so we could sit and watch the eight little blighters sniff and explore their new world. As they tired one by one, they would all end up at our feet, ready for a little puppy nap. Inveritably, I would end up with two or three canine belly balls in my lap, falling fast asleep in my arms, their fat round tummies gently swaying with their soft breathing. On warm sunny days, Malcolm and I would sit in the pen for hours, enjoying the melodious sounds emitting from the puppies. Loving the feel of their silky fur, their soft little paws pressed against our arms, their muzzle tucked under our chins. It was during these endearing moments, that I learned the true meaning of “puppy breath”.
Truth be told, there is something sweet about little puppy’s breath! The scent is precious, with just a hint of baby puppy. Taking a deep breath, I smell a little puppy’s trust, I inhale the wonder and joys of a pint-sized creature filled with faith in their caretakers. I breathe in the love of a new friend and the loyalty of an old one. I catch a whiff of an adoring puppy, a devoted dog, a committed canine to its custodian. Puppy breath is a precious bouquet of entrusting love.
A quick and tasty appetizer or side dish, these little guys will disappear fast so make extras.
- 1 cup yellow cornmeal
- 1 1/2 tbsp. flour
- 2 tsp. sugar
- 3/4 tsp. garlic salt
- 1/2 tsp. baking powder
- 1/4 tsp. baking soda
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 2 tbsp. beaten egg
- 1 1/2 tbsp. minced jalapeno
- 1 cup crumbled goat cheese
- frying oil
Mix together the first six ingredients. In a separate bowl, whisk the buttermilk, egg and jalapeño together. Stir the dry ingredients and milk mixture together.
Add enough oil to a deep medium saucepan to at least 1 1/2 inches. Using a deep fry thermometer, heat oil to 320F to 330F over medium heat. Working in batches, drop 4 to 5 balls of batter by the tablespoon into the oil.
Fry until golden brown, turning occasionally, about 4-5 minutes. With a slotted spoon, lift the hush puppies from the oil and place on a paper towel.
Can be made 2-3 hours ahead, leave at room temperature. Rewarm in a pre-heated oven of 375F until crisp (12-14 minutes). Garnish with a little chopped parsley and grated parmesan cheese.