I would be no more inclined to tell a person how to eat then to tell them what to feed their dog. The best I can do is to show by example.
When I got my first dog, Nicholas, a Golden Retriever, it was a long time ago. I was young and living in San Francisco. I worked downtown and I ate whatever I wanted and whatever was convenient. I didn’t stop to read labels. It didn’t matter how much fiber or sugar was in a product. It didn’t matter what country it came from. I barely looked at the price. I admit, I fed my dog commercial puppy food from the neighborhood supermarket. It’s the same store where I bought my own meat and vegetables. It seemed that both he and I were doing well until I noticed that as he grew he had bouts of dry flaky skin and his fur wasn’t shining no matter how often I brushed it.
When my own health failed me, I moved to Sonoma County for a slower pace. It became vital to my health to start eating better. I ate less meat and bought organic vegetables whenever I could. I learned about alternative therapies and herbs to boost my immune system. While investigating these medical options for myself I decided to take Nicholas to the Forestville Vet Hospital where the doctor practiced a holistic approach. The vet educated me about the common ailments that Goldens get like chronic skin problems. He informed me how commercial brands could be having a negative impact on Nicholas’ health. I was skeptical at first. But if I was eating healthier food why not try it for him, too. I bought the brand of dog food that the vet suggested. Unbelievably, Nicholas’ skin rashes soon disappeared. His fur seemed to glow. Any extra money I spent on Nicholas’ food I saved on the vet bills and more importantly he seemed happier. Sure sometimes he still got fleas. Occasionally a hot spot flared up but his skin and fur definitely improved. I saw it with my own eyes. Since then I’ve never gone back to commercial brands.
For many years I used this same specialty brand that the holistic vet recommended. I even had it shipped to Boston when I was visiting my family there because I couldn’t find it locally. My father thought I was nuts. But I was aware of the problems that can sometimes develop when switching food. It can happen to humans so why not dogs. Nicholas lived to be 15.
When I moved to Palm Springs with Willy, my second Golden, I could not find a pet shop that carried my brand. I convinced the owner of Bones and Scones, a small local store, to special order it for me. Things worked out fine until one day I noticed the kibbles covered in a white powder. I thought this odd but it smelled normal and Willy still seemed to like it. When I mentioned it to the shop owner she told me to check their webpage immediately. It was then that I discovered that there had been a recall. It really upset me to learn that a trusted brand had had a recall and I had not heard anything about it. I felt terrible that I had put my best friend at risk.
Having been a customer of Bones and Scones for a few years I trusted the owner and asked for her advice. She told me that she had just returned from visiting a family-owned company in Kentucky and was impressed with what she saw. The ingredients were natural and without any fillers so a dog didn’t have to eat so much to get his/her nourishment. I had my new brand!
I have been loyal to this brand for over ten years now. My current Golden, Morgan, loves it and the senior mix has helped to keep the weight off. On this evolving journey I have now come to believe that food is medicine. Recently, when Morgan and I returned east to visit my family it was great to discover that the local health food store where I bought my own organic vegetables now also carried Morgan’s food. I took that as a sign that we were in good hands.
Another thing that I like about my parents’ neighborhood health food store – they have free organic parking!