3.07.2012

My Inner Judgey Judgerson (And A Giveaway!)

Hi, everyone ... MP here! Yes, we're alive and well ... and rather abashed at having neglected both our own blog and those of our friends so thoroughly over the last couple of weeks.  But enough of that ... it's confessional time!

Are you ready?  Ok, here goes ... 

I'm a snob.  Yes, you heard me right.  But, in my defense, let me qualify this.  I'm not impressed by expensive cars or pricey real estate.  I'm not wowed by labels.  I judge people by who they are and what they stand for, not for what they have, or can buy.  And yet ... I'm still a snob.  A dog/cat food snob, that is.  


I don't know quite how it happened ... but one thing I do know is that it was a process, an evolution.  I didn't just wake up one day and decide I was going to be obsessed with dog/cat food, though I'm far from the only such "foodie" I know.  (We nut jobs tend to travel in packs, so be warned!) 

  One contributing factor was that my first-ever-dog-as-an-adult, (a Malamute mix named Dakotah) had persistent GI issues on kibble, and twenty years ago, there were far fewer kibbles to choose from than there are now.  That led me, through the auspices of my former vet (now unfortunately retired), to some people who were feeding a raw diet to their group of huskies.  They mentored me, and I started feeding Dakotah this way.  By the time Tucker came along nine years ago, frozen raw diets were becoming available.  I was intrigued, and for reasons I really can't pinpoint even now, found myself reluctant to put Tucker on a 100% raw diet, so after eleven years of hardly ever looking at a bag or can of dog food, I suddenly found myself spending a great deal of time researching various brands, and seeking opinions from other dog owners on mailing lists and message boards devoted to dog food/nutrition . A year later, Olivia came into my life, the first cat I had lived with in many a year, and my research compulsion went into overdrive.  There again, it never even really occurred to me to feed Olivia a raw diet - she received grain-free canned food, which, according to all the reading and research I did online was what she should be eating.  I knew about ethoxyquin, BHA, BHT, etc. so I knew enough to label read and make sure the brands of food I chose were free of these scary preservatives, as well as unnamed byproducts, potentially allergenic ingredients such as corn, wheat, soy, etc. and I thought as long as I steered clear of those things, all would be well.  

I was wrong.

Because then the mass pet food recalls of 2007 occurred ... and a lot of dogs and cats suffered and died needlessly as a result, including two cats belonging to a former co-worker of mine, who were eating a very well-known, much-advertised, and respected brand of commercial food.  None of the foods I was feeding at that time were affected, at least not the specific flavor or variety, but one of the brands I was using was on the recall list.  To say it scared me would be the understatement of the last several centuries.  My mini-obsession bloomed and became a full-blown compulsion.  I read dog and cat food labels non-stop, researched brands and parent companies, and learned, to my horror, what co-packers were, and why they can be super scary.  I started trying to convert the cats (Tanner by this point had joined the family) to a raw diet.  It didn't go well.  I kept trying.  Finally ... eventually ... I succeeded.  By this time, Dakotah had passed away, Phoebe had joined the family, and I also switched Tucker & Phoebe from partial raw to full prey model raw.  I breathed a little easier.

But wait ...

I said I was a food snob.  Not a raw food snob.  Research, reading, study, and my own experiences, have absolutely convinced me that a raw diet is the best thing I can do for my dogs and cats.  However, I fully accept that not everyone feels this way, and that just because this method of feeding makes sense to me doesn't mean it resonates with everyone, and I respect this. Also, for various reasons, raw feeding is not always practical for every person's individual situation.

So then what?  

The good news is that there are better, safer, higher-quality, more species-appropriate commercial food choices available for our dogs and cats than ever before.  Which is why I sometimes cringe when I'm in the grocery store, pet supply store, or, gasp, the vet's office, and see some of the food choices people (with, I feel sure, all the best of intentions) are making for their pets. 

Sometimes, let's be honest, especially these days, these decisions are either in part or in whole motivated by finances, and this is completely understandable. I sincerely make NO judgments when this is the case.  What kills me is when I see people spending a great deal of money on foods that contain species inappropriate ingredients, harmful preservatives, unnamed byproducts, etc. when I know that they could be getting a far better quality food for the same money, a little bit more, or even a little bit less!  

THIS, I will confess to you, my friends, in hopes that you don't wind up judging ME too harshly, awakens what I refer to as my Inner Judgey Judgerson.  It makes me want to walk up to perfect strangers and tell them why what they are feeding is wrong and how they could do better.  For obvious reasons, not the least of which is fear of being thought a complete lunatic, (or a judgmental snob, take your pick), I don't do this.  But there's another, even more compelling, reason than my fear of coming across to perfect strangers as either a freak or some kind of pet food elitist, and this is that I have to operate on the assumption that the person studiously reading labels in the pet food aisle of the grocery store, or tossing that big bag of nationally advertised brand of dog food in their cart at the pet supply store is buying that food for one of two reasons:  because they honestly believe that they're doing the best for their dog (or cat) or because the food that they're buying is what they can afford to feed and still meet all their other financial obligations. 

So I stay quiet.  I try not to judge.  But sometimes I just can't help it.  Especially when I see someone loading a bag of food containing potentially carcinogenic preservatives, known allergens, and unnamed byproducts into the back of a $60,000 SUV.  (For the record, yes, this has actually happened to me ... more than once, in fact.) 

So there it is.  You know my dirty little secret.  I hope you don't think any less of me now that you know.  Either way, I feel better.  I guess it's true - confession IS good for the soul! 

AND NOW ... the good part!  Awhile back, I had written a review for an online pet supply store - MrChewy.com and just recently I was asked to do a second review, this time not for Mr. Chewy himself, but for one of the products carried on the site, specifically Orijen kibble.

For those who are unaware, Orijen is one of the best, if not the best, in this writer's humble opinion anyway, kibbles on the market today, and thanks to Mr. Chewy, one of you (or actually your dogs) will get to try a bag of Orijen absolutely free!  You can choose any of the formulas, including Adult, Regional Red, or 6 Fish.

All you have to do is:

Leave a comment below (winner will be randomly drawn, and then announced here, on March 31st).  If you're the winner, email me your name and address, and Mr. Chewy will ship the food directly to you, and then all you need to do after that is email me your opinions about/experience with the food trial within six weeks of receiving it. 

Sound good?  



Tanner says:  All this talk about food and I STILL don't see my dinner!

26 comments:

Anonymous said...

We would love to try the Orijen since we are searching for a new food right now. Our Shadow has decided he doesn't like his old one! Becky

♥♥♥ The OP Pack ♥♥♥ said...

We just recently switched to California Natural organic grain-free chicken formula from EVO chicken and turkey. The EVO was making all of us very gassy. But Mom has been hearing such good things about this Orijen that she has been thinking about trying it for Mr. Picky Phantom. Thanks for your thoughts on pet foods - you certainly have done your homework.

Woos - Phantom, Thunder, Ciara, and Lightning

Spitty-the-Kitty said...

Spitty has developed something of an obsession with Royal Canin kitten kibble. It's higher calorie but since he's so skinny I don't worry about it. He eats regular adult canned food. I am trying to wean him off his junk-food faves and on to RC, Wellness and Innova, but it's slow going. He's SUCH a picky eater!!

That said, I can say that I have raised many a kitty to old age (17-18-19) on Friskies and other less-than-super-healthy foods. However, now that I can afford it and know a little more, I am trying to get Spitty to eat better. Since he *is* so picky and svelte, I think it's probably more important that the food he does eat be high-quality.

BTW, great tongue shot, Tanner!

Mr. Pip said...

I eat Canidae and my feline sisters eat Felidae. We all love it - especially all the yummy fruits and veggies in it (my mom told me to say that). BOL!

Your pal, Pip

Carolyn said...

All of a sudden one feels a very inadequate pet owner!

Have to say Austin is very picky about his food. If he doesn't like it, he just won't eat it. He seems to have thrived ok in the last 5 years with what he's had. Might make some inquiries though!!!

Remington said...

Great post! Very informative -- thank you!

Tucker The Crestie said...

@ Becky ... that's great! It's amazing how picky some dogs can be. I have friends with dogs like this - but I've never owned any myself!

@ OP Pack, from what I can remember, Evo is about 42% protein on average across the product line, and Orijen Adult is I believe 38%. Now, if you feel like you need to step down a little further, Orijen's sister product, Acana, averages about 33% across that line, still minimally carbohydrate inclusive, etc. and also a little cheaper. I have two family members who use Acana in their food rotation and the dogs do very well on it.

@ Spitty's Human - I hear you on the pickiness. For example, it took me the better part of TWO FULL YEARS to get Olivia & Tanner to try raw. Finn will eat anything, and of course he is the lean, lanky one! :) And absolutely - my childhood pets, for example, all lived to ripe old ages on nothing but grocery store food and table scraps. Quite frankly, sometimes I wish I didn't know what I now know about pet food and some of the awful stuff that is allowed to be in there. Knowledge may be power, but sometimes ignorance is still bliss!

@ Pip - I know a lot of people who feed Canidae/Felidae and the animals seem to do very well with it. I was talking to a lady at the dog park a couple of weeks ago who has just started feeding the Grain Free fish one (Pure Sea, I think?) to her Westie and she said his skin and coat have really improved.

@ Carolyn - I am SO sorry. That was NOT my intention at all, and I really apologize. I know cats are picky - see my comment above to Spitty's mom. It's something I have struggled with myself.

IF you are interested, here are links to two videos (part one and part two) that talk about some effective methods of converting cats to a new food, if in fact that is your goal, as well as how to do it safely. You really can't "tough love" cats, unfortunately, because if they go into fasting mode they can fall victim to hepatic lipidosis and it's really scary!

Part One:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uZv0Pvm-b8o&feature=relmfu

Part Two: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8NWXkZUGYss

Anyway, PLEASE don't feel badly, as I am 100% SURE that you are IN NO WAY an inadequate pet owner. Austin looks quite sleek, fit, and happy, and that's what's important!

@ Rem - thanks buddy! :)

snoopy@snoopysdogblog said...

Ah, the subject of food for us guys - my Mum struggles with this one and has read way too much about it, so that she feels like she's going around in circles…..

She likes the idea of raw, however, she's vegetarian so the thought of it looking more like an animal than kibble is too much for her….

I figure I'm lucky that I don't get put on a vegetarian diet!! Phew!! I do get grain-free though….. :)

Have a fun day,

Your pal Snoopy :)

Katie Isabella said...

I am now serving Blue...

Katie Mom

Christine said...

Wow I read your blog and still do not see where you are being a snob!!

Oui Oui said...

It sounds good to us. Please, could you enter our name? Recently the mom thought she was buying top of the line food for us then read the ingredients and was horrified to see Buy Products! We have tried a couple different foods and would be willing to try that one too. Many thanks!

Genista Gold Milaika said...

Very informative post, thank you!
Princess Kisses
Megan
X

Angela J. said...

We eat Acana Ranchlands and love it. Orijen and Acana are both made by Champion and very similar in ingredients and I am very impressed with their quality. And I don't think you are a food snob, LOL.

Katie Isabella said...

Mommy wants to try Orijens but we fink it's all fish flavor. xoxox

Kirsten (peacefuldog) said...

So nice of you to donate your free bag to a lucky reader! And good for you for being so conscientious. I have to say I am not nearly so conscientious, but I do read posts like yours with interest and will have a look at the Orijen label next time I get a chance, to try and learn something new.

Gracie Lu Shih Tzu said...

Mom only feeds me Orijen dog food, or its related food Acana (depending on our budget). They are awesome products, and I like them most of the time. Mom wants me to eat it because she doesn't like other kibbles on the market. I am so glad you agree that Orijen is best.

Remington said...

Thank you so much for the positive thoughts while I was ill this past weekend! I appreciated it!

Patrice and Higgins said...

I am such a picky pooch, but maybe I would love it!!

~Higgins

K-Koira said...

I know my dogs would love orijen. We feed raw, but I use kibbles as training treats, and the more variety, the better.

bichonpawz said...

We are currently trying Canidae All Life Stages, but we have been wanting to try Orijen as well!! Thanks for the great review!!
xoxo Chloe and LadyBug

Katnip Lounge said...

ooooh! We love Origen! The 6 Fish is our favorite. Please enter us!

Sagira said...

OMG...I SOOOOO want to win this. This is the kind of food that I (Sagira) eats. We love Mr. Chewy we did a review for them as well and well I am a pretty picky eater but I love my Orijen food. Yummy!

Rumpydog said...

Oh Dog! I LOVE Mr. Chewy! What a great contest idea!

Greyhounds CAN Sit said...

This is one of the premium dog foods we actually can get in New Zealand and I've been wanting to try it but haven't gotten around to it yet. I'm not entering your contest, lol, just sayin':)

Great photo of Tanner!

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.