By DONALD WITTKOWSKI
Bennett and Tucker may have to improve their manners a little bit the next time they show up for “Thanksgiving dinner.”
The yummy menu included turkey, fresh green beans, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, broth, eggs, brown rice and oat flour.
But what did Bennett and Tucker do? They impolitely sniffed their food, tentatively took it in their mouths and then dropped it on the ground before gulping it down.
“She had to taste-test it first to make sure she got what she wanted,” Jennifer Bennett, the owner of Bennett, a German shepherd mix, said with a laugh. “This dog eats everything I give her.”
Bennett and fellow canine Tucker were among the pooches that were lucky enough Saturday to munch down on some delicious doggie biscuits that combined turkey and other mouth-watering Thanksgiving fixings in one bite-sized treat.
Saturday’s canine meal was jokingly billed as “Thanksgiving dinner” by dog lover Holly B. Reeves, a former caterer and restaurant manager who combines an array of ingredients to make gourmet dog biscuits from scratch.
Reeves and co-workers Kevin Steffa and Nancy Smith hand out the biscuits every day during their jobs overseeing Sea Isle City’s public boat ramp at the bay end of 42nd Place.
Word has gotten out, it seems, in Sea Isle’s dog community about the biscuits.
“Have you ever tried to give biscuits to 90 dogs?” Reeves said, suggesting that the crowd of canines can be pretty rambunctious.
Steffa noted that the dogs that come to the boat ramp on a regular basis even know where the biscuits are stored.
“Most of them walk right up and stop at the door. Some of them walk right in. They know where we keep them,” he said of the small building that serves as the boat ramp’s office.
The visitors Saturday afternoon included Bennett and Tucker, an Australian cattle dog. Bennett has the same name as her owners, Jennifer and James Bennett, the owners of Sea Isle’s Oar House Pub. Tucker is owned by Sea Isle resident Diana Conti.
Conti and Tucker discovered for the first time Saturday that dog biscuits are handed out each day by the boat ramp workers.
“What’s this all about? I never knew. I never heard of this,” Conti said while talking to Steffa.
Steffa then offered one of the Thanksgiving-style biscuits to Tucker, who dropped it on the ground and smelled it before chewing it up.
“Tucker seems to like them, even though he’s picky. We’re going to have to come down here and see you more often,” Conti said to Steffa.
Steffa and Smith began the biscuit-giving tradition by formerly handing out plain old Milk-Bones. Then Reeves took over the role of chief “baker” by making some extravagant dog biscuits that feature high-quality ingredients, including meat broth, fresh vegetables, eggs, brown rice and oat flour.
“She’s nuts. She’s absolutely nuts. She goes to the store on her days off. Who knows how much she spends?” Steffa said in a good-natured jab at Reeves for her dedication to the dogs.
Reeves gave just as much credit to her fellow dog lovers, Steffa and Smith. She noted that Smith, for instance, recently showed up with a big bag of different meats as ingredients for the biscuits
“It’s a team effort on the dog-friendly atmosphere,” Reeves said.
Reeves, 66, who lives in Galloway Township, has two dogs of her own, a male Chihuahua named Ref and a female terrier mix named Crash.
She formerly worked as a caterer and as the manager of a restaurant at an Avalon marina. Now, she uses her culinary experience to concoct dog biscuits that rise to the level of canine haute cuisine.
After the dogs have their main course, they may also choose from dessert-style dog biscuits such as peanut butter cups and apple pie. Reeves also creates frozen doggie treats, called “pupsicles,” using fresh cantaloupe and ham.
“It cracks me up when I make silly things,” Reeves said.
The types of biscuits that are given out each day are advertised on little menu boards attached to the doors of the boat ramp building.
That’s how Bennett and Tucker knew that “Thanksgiving dinner” was being served on Saturday. How else would you expect them to find out – pick up the phone and bark?