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Rachel Hunter’s Dog Treats for Rollo

Rachel Hunter’s Dog Treats for Rollo

An Echo in the Bone, Beyond the Books

The pandemonium grew worse.  There were bangs from two or three pistols, and Rollo dropped writhing to the ground with a yelp.  Colonel Martin jerked back, cursing and clutching his injured wrist, and Jamie drew back and punched him in the belly.  Ian was already rushing toward Rollo; Jamie grabbed the dog by two legs, and, between them, they made off into the darkness, followed my Rachel and me.

We made it to the edge of the wood, heaving and gasping, and I fell at once to my knees beside Rollo, feeling frantically over the huge shaggy body, hunting for the wound, for damage.

“He’s not dead,” I panted.  “Shoulder…broken.”

“Oh, God,” Ian said, and I felt him turn to glance in the direction from which pursuit was surely headed.  “Oh, Jesus.” I heard the tears in his voice, and he reached to his belt for his knife. 

“What are you doing?”  I exclaimed.  “He can be healed!”

“They’ll kill him,” he said, savage.  “If I’m no there to stop them, they’ll kill him!  Better I do it.”

“I –” Jamie began, but Rachel Hunter forestalled him, falling to her knees and grabbing Rollo by the scruff.

“I’ll mind thy dog for thee,” she said, breathless but certain. “Run!”

He took one last despairing look at her, then at Rollo.  And he ran.

Diana Gabaldon, An Echo in the Bone, Chap 68

OK — Koda’s no Rollo — at 25lbs, he probably doesn’t have a lot of wolf in him.  But he could pass for a red fox, especially chasing birds through the tall grass in the early morning.  And while I didn’t win him at dice, he did come into our lives fully grown after a well-timed trip to the SPCA.  He’s smart as a whip, a bit of an independent wanderer and, I think you’ll agree, a handsome beast, no?

As for Rachel and Rollo, they spent the fall, winter and some of the next spring holed up together waiting for Ian to return.  That means that they spent Christmas together.  And just because, as a Quaker, Rachel most likely didn’t observe December 25th as anything other than a regular day, that doesn’t mean that I can’t use this scene as a tenuous segue to suggest these healthy snacks as a holiday treat for the Rollo in YOUR life.


(click on the title below for a printable version of the recipe)

Rachel Hunter’s Dog Treats for Rollo

Blanched sweet potatoes or yams, wrapped with thinly pounded bits of meat then smoked/dehydrated until leathery.  If they HAD made dog treats in the 18th Century, they would’ve looked something like this.

  • Sweet Potatoes or Yams
  • Meat (chicken/turkey thighs, beef/venison outside round, etc.)

Wash and scrub clean the sweet potatoes or yams.  Cut into french-fry like sticks, about ½”x½”x2” for smaller dogs and up to 1”x1”x5” for large beasts.  Blanch these sticks in boiling salted water until just fork tender, about 3 to 5 minutes.  Drain and shock in ice water.  Drain, then dry on paper towels.

Pound the meat between sheets of waxed paper or plastic wrap until paper thin.  Cut into ½” wide strips.

Wrap the meat strips around the potato sticks, wrapping the ends in to keep things neat.  Place on smoker or dehydrator racks.

To smoke, place the racks in the fridge and air-dry for about 4 hours.  Set the racks in your smoker and smoke for 90 minutes at 150° F, then continue to dry at the same temperature until leathery, approx. 7 more hours.

To dehydrate, set the racks in the unit and dry at 150° F until leathery, about 8-10 hours.

These will keep in the refrigerator for about a month.  Dispense at leisure.


  • I used 2 med sized sweet potatoes and 3 smallish chicken thighs (total cost $3), and about 45 minutes of active work, to make enough treats to last Koda a month.  Three bags of similar store-bought treats cost about $20 and last the same amount of time.
  • No smoker nor dehydrator?  No problem!  Dry them in your oven at 150 F.  If you stick the handle of a wooden spoon in the door as you close it, the resulting air flow will probably help them dry more efficiently…



  1. How cool is this! If we still had a dog, I’d definitely make these.

    Don’t know if you’ve hit this piece of trivia, but since I live a block from Bethania, North Carolina, I can pass it along in this forum. The hush puppy got it’s name because the slaves would make the morsels of bread to take with them on their walk from the big house to their quarters. As they made their way home, the dogs would bark so they’d throw them the fried dough pieces and say, “hush puppy.”

    So yes, I do believe that they gave their dogs treats. And these look awesome.

    • Theresa
      December 5, 2011 at 1:26 pm

      I love food history! Thanks Mom Chef…

  2. JustHeather
    December 5, 2011 at 8:39 am

    Koda’s a very beautiful dog! Definitely deserving of treats.

    • Theresa
      December 5, 2011 at 1:23 pm

      Thanks very much, JustHeather…not that I had anything to do with his good looks!

  3. deniz
    December 7, 2011 at 8:56 am

    Ooh, this one’s a great idea! I’ll send my sister the link 🙂
    Too bad there are no treats for Adso… (I’ve got cats)

    • Theresa
      December 7, 2011 at 11:11 am

      Poor ol’ Adso! I’ll have to come up with something for the cats next year…unless there is an International Cat Day before then? 😉

  4. Jan Langlois
    December 9, 2011 at 12:49 pm

    I don’t have a smoker nor a dehydrator. Can these be dried on the oven at 150* ?

    • Theresa
      December 9, 2011 at 1:01 pm

      Jan, great question — and one I should have addressed in the post! You can absolutely dry them in the oven at 150 F. If you stick the handle of a wooden spoon in the door as you close it, the resulting air flow will probably help them dry more efficiently…

  5. Jennifer
    February 29, 2012 at 8:41 am

    Ok, first, I LOVE that these are sweet potatoes- rawhide tends to upset many dogs’ tummies. Second, I LOVE that you included alternate directions for those of us with no smoker/dehydrator- My Suzie Q. will love these! Thank you for this recipe!

    • Theresa
      February 29, 2012 at 8:44 am

      My pleasure, Jenn! They’re very easy to make in the oven too…

  6. Jayne
    September 8, 2014 at 12:31 pm

    I just friended u a week ago and I have enjoyed it! A nice little lift to my day. I have just finished Drums of Autumn.

  7. Anna Lapping
    October 24, 2014 at 8:10 am

    Oh, I WILL be making these! My 5 dogs will love them. Your Koda is beautiful, and his face reminds me of my Husky/Shepherd mix, also a rescue dog, named Hoosier. The others are 2 Viszlas, 1 lab mix and a Jack Russell mix. All rescues.

  8. Marina
    May 15, 2015 at 12:16 pm

    Just finished making these for the 1st time, my 2 Labs are thoroughly enjoying the treats! They keep asking for more… This is such a lovely healthy idea. Most treats are high in fat/sodium and all kinds of other preservatives. It also doesn’t take too much effort for something that, as you say, will last quite a while in the fridge. Thanks for this great idea!

  9. Linda Baird
    September 23, 2015 at 10:47 am

    I am always looking for natural treats for our dogs. This is right on target!! I also do something similar with liver slices. Thank you for keeping salt and other preservatives off.

  10. Anna Lapping
    September 29, 2015 at 5:23 pm

    I did make these, and the dogs loved them. I left off the chicken and just did the sweet potatoes because I cook chicken and rice for them every week, they still loved them. I did them in my food dehydrator.

  11. Deb Williams
    September 30, 2015 at 1:42 am

    These are soo good. Even though we don’t have our dogs anymore – they’ve both died and gone to doggy heaven. But I will make tbese in any case as Christmas gifts for all our doggy and kitty friends.

  12. Corissa
    December 8, 2015 at 7:26 am

    I’m sending out Christmas cookies this year, and wanted to include these for some friends that have furbabies.. do you know how long they last outside of the fridge? I’m thinking it’ll take about 3 or 4 days for them to reach their destination, but don’t want them to go bad. Thanks!

    • Theresa
      December 8, 2015 at 12:23 pm

      3 or 4 days will be fine, Corissa. Happy baking!

  13. Renee Koenitzer
    March 22, 2016 at 10:15 am

    Cats will eat canned pumpkin (without sugar added, of course), so perhaps you might have an idea for a treat along those lines. International Cat Day is August 8th, by the way ;^)

  14. Diane Aimi
    March 29, 2016 at 3:35 pm

    I have made these for my dog and he loves them, but mine do not look like yours. My potato’s are not firm and they are more like either crunchy toothpicks or mushy Please advise on how you make yours look so good. Thanks for all your help

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