As a child, my family never had fewer than fifteen animals, of all sizes and species, at any time! This labor of love for animals started years ago when I was old enough to understand what a cat or dog was, and that they shared the same floor as me. As an adult, I never thought for a second that there was perhaps a better way to feed and nourish my pets to prolong their life, keep them healthier, happier and most of all, be less work for us pet owners.
About six years ago, I decided to get another English Bull Dog puppy, since I had nothing but time on my hands having recently been divorced, and needed a project. As anyone knows, any puppy--but especially a Bulldog--is a project! Cush arrived at John Wayne Airport, courtesy of American Airlines, and I cried the first time I saw his little face through the pet carrier. He was everything I wanted and looked exactly like a stuffed animal! Ironically [or coincidentally], he acted nothing like a stuffed animal--as anyone knows who's raised a puppy.
The first thing I noticed about Cush was his aversion to dog food, since I'd never had a dog refused to eat. Sure, I had plenty of finicky cats over the years, but this was a first in my experience with a dog. I bought Cush brand after brand (keep in mind, this was six years ago and the commercial pet food industry had come a long way from the days of Puppy Chow and Meow Mix), but he still would walk over to his food, turn up his nose and refused to eat.
His eating habits began to concern me as he started to grow, and I was worried he wasn't getting proper nutrition. I took Cush to the Vet and she assured me that: 1) He will eat when he was hungry, and 2) He was in good health and nothing to be alarmed about. After that, I started to do my research about pet food.
When Cush turned One, I had developed a very strong bond with my Vet, since we visited her at least once a month. It was either a random allergic reaction, an ear infection, or raw paws from incessant chewing. I vacuumed continually, but our house still had white dog hair all over the floor, as if I had a pack of dogs living in the house!
Cush smelled awful, his ears and face itched; his breath and skin emitted a foul odor. I bathed him almost every day to subdue the disgusting mass of fur that Cush had become. I felt so sad for him because no one wanted to touch or let alone play with him! And, people would leave my house with their clothes covered in white hair and stench on their hands. As a result, I had tried [or so I thought] every nutritional dog food that the pet food industry had to offer, and he still refused to eat!
Adding people food to his dog food was my next attempt to persuade Cush to eat a few bites. Using the Omega/Fish oils to entice him to ingest enough nourishment so he wouldn't barf yellow bile in the morning from the overactive acid production in his stomach. At this point, neither of us were “living the dream," and my house reeked nearly as bad as Cush! At the young age of Two, Cush was an absolute mess!
Defeated once again, with my pantry full of unused dog food bags (I was buying smaller sizes as it was more cost efficient when I had to throw them out), and I tried to understand his ailment as best I could, and decided that I needed a miracle. Well, that's the day I found one, and it changed our lives forever! My head was racing that evening and I woke up in the middle of the night, and realized the more pills I fed him, the more unusual symptoms he exhibited; I made a decision to take him off every pill and rebuild his system from the inside out.
Using the Internet, I began enthusiastic research on each of Cush's symptoms, one by one: The hot spots (these were new and costing hundreds of dollars alone), the odor, the shedding, the Benadryl dependency, and all the skin supplements. Stumbling on a several articles and blogs that recommended feeding raw food, I investigated further and discovered there were several websites telling horror stories about the chemical processing of commercial pet foods, and its side effects. The more I read, the more evidence pointed to Cush's diet being the culprit to his problems.
The idea of a raw pet diet seemed so obvious, despite that fact I grew up an animal lover, and knew nothing about raw feeding. Intrigued and excited, I rushed out to buy my first bag of raw pet food, and eagerly returned home to see if Cush would actually eat his dinner!
The transformation of this smelly little man (Cush) was nothing short of remarkable, and to this day, I remember the very first time I started him on raw, and the extraordinary transformation that quickly followed. The first sign was that he was actually eating, and pleaded with his eyes for more!
Ecstatic, I immediately began more research on the safety aspects of feeding dogs raw meat and bones. I found the Bones and Raw Food Diet, or Biologically Appropriate Raw Food website, and couldn't read enough. This concept was wonderful and yet so simple! I was hooked on raw, and believed the best was yet to come.
About a week after starting Cush on his “new” diet, I had invited some friends over. At the point they usually ran out or politely asked us to move him, the opposite happened--Cush had become an overnight sensation! Cush received so many compliments on his coat that evening. Several friends asked if he lost weight, or perhaps had a recent bath, and wondered why he was so soft and smelled so good. Bursting with pride, I felt like a hero to have saved my dog from his misery.
Almost immediately, Cush's shedding had stopped as did the horrific smells that emanated from every part of his body. I stopped giving him the 6 supplements a day; no more Benadryl and only required a bath every few weeks. As I continued to monitor his vitals, I noticed he hadn't gone the bathroom except a few times, and it was a quarter the size of his previous waste deposits. I was so thrilled and happy that I finally was making him feel better, let alone all the benefits I was reaping from this new food regimen.
Naturally, Cush soon trimmed down a few pounds, as he wasn't ingesting fillers and his body, and was actually metabolizing the food appropriately. He was a new dog and so full of life and energy! This was the moment I knew there was something I had to do to help other pet owners who had hit that familiar brick wall. As you can probably tell from reading this far, I'm not much for a loss of words and was happy to tell anyone and everyone about my new treasure.
Becoming a ferocious reader, I grabbed up almost every book written on raw pet food, as well as scouring the internet, for as much as I could learn about raw feeding. It wouldn't surprise me if I had Cush try every raw brand on the market. We had some victories and some average responses, but I was determined to discover a way to make an even better raw diet for him. So, starting with a my own meat grinder and a newly discovered determination, I began crafting hand-made food for Cush. This was as exciting for me as it was for him, considering he was my test subject.
Cush is now ten, and everywhere we go (He accompanies me almost everywhere now that he's not a Petri dish of infection!), people ask me if he's a puppy. He runs, squirms, wiggles, jumps around and is full of vitality. I never actually thought I'd see the day that he'd be so healthy, or that I'd be the one offering pet feeding advice and helping others. Although I'm not a certified pet Nutritionist or Veterinarian, I'm an animal lover and my highest priority is the health and well being of pets; this nourishes my soul and fills me with so much joy.
Finally, I want to encourage anyone that feels helpless and discouraged over their pet’s health and illnesses to try our food and other products. This process has taken years as we strive to maintain a superior quality food, and to provide options to those seeking for the same, to feed their pets. I'm so thankful that with the help of my family and friends, we had enough support to launch SOUL'Y RAW Pet Food, and we'll continue our rigorous efforts to be the raw food of choice for many years to come.
I've tried to find a way to condense this story, but as an animal lover, I can talk for hours about my pets! So, thank you for reading my story!
Founder, SOUL'Y RAW Pet Food
San Marcos, California