Jo-Anne and I, Neal Cropper started Growlies near the end of 2007 just after and for many people in the middle of the biggest pet food recall North America had ever experienced. We were unsure as to what we should buy for our three irreplaceable pets.
Jo-Anne has a background of having worked as a Veterinarians Assistant for a number of years. Through that, she has more knowledge of the pet food industry than myself (Neal). So she and I started researching with a shared interest in pet health. Jojo was the one who proposed a raw pet food diet to me, we had always fed kibble. As we started reading and learning about pet food and what the possible ingredients looked like we were flabbergasted, to say the least.
Having no experience in retail Jojo and I found that our neighborhood needed a pet food option dedicated to the health of our pets. We found many places saying they were pet health food stores but they did not convince us of their dedication to the health of our pets based on the many unhealthy items they sell. There was a retail spot available locally that made sense and we had the ability to do it so we jumped right in and opened our own store. We decided that we were not going to sell food unless it met certain criteria.
- The company name on the package put the food into the package. Part of the reason for the big pet food recall was that only one or two large companies make a very large percentage of the food available through standard pet food channels.
- We wanted to do it right. We had to make sure we could do it and have people enjoy working with us as a partner in their pets health. We are always working to improve your experience so please, do tell us how we can better meet your needs & expectations.
- It has to be grain free. Here we have to admit there are some gluten free, low glycemic index grains in our store but no wheat, corn and very little rice.
- It is sourced within our region. We have one exception to that rule currently and that is Addiction. They provide us with the ability to offer alternative protein diets for pets with allergies.
- We still advocate the raw food diet overall. We have seen how good this diet is for our pets and are proud to be able to offer it to our community. We encourage people to use dehydrated, freeze dried or canned as either breakfast cereal or only for short periods while travelling or when refrigeration is a problem.
- We also advocate bone bearing meats for good oral hygiene. Depending upon the size of your pet a good raw chicken, whole tripe or turkey neck is the perfect toothbrush for them. It works out their jaw and neck muscles and cleans their teeth.
- Variety is the spice of life. We eat something different often three times a day and yet we feed our pet from the same jumbo bag the same food every day of their lives. I don’t know about you but I would not be happy eating dried Ramen noodle mix every day for dinner how is kibble any different than that. Try to offer different protiens, chicken, turkey, bison, lamb, beef and venison are all available, for the everyday pet food diet.
- Tripe is like yogurt for your pet. Tripe gets the flora of your pets gut healthy and alive. We offer Buffalo (Bison), Lamb and Beef tripe as available. Both whole and ground.
- Supplements can be included in your pets diet. We carry some very good and well respected products for your pet. Learn about the options and benefits of the supplements we offer. Contact the companies directly and ask questions, as I grew up hearing, question authority, do it. Dr. Dobias’ Green Min, Organic Ocean Kelp, Hokamix, Recovery, Kelp Help and Missing Link are just some of the many options we carry, be sure to check them out as they really can make a difference.
Now our store has been open going on 5 years and we are growing every day. We started a Growlies points program to thank our regular clientèle for coming back and supporting what we do. Without great suppliers like Bruce’s Meating Place, Buddies, Red Dog Blue Kat, Pet Lovers Choice, Mountain Dog Food Company, Smack, Honest Kitchen, K9 Naturals and Addiction we would not be able to do what we do and we want to ensure they are not forgotten, thank you.
I’ll end with the slogan that came out of these core values and is used here on our website. Healthy Pets and Happy People, that’s it, thats what we want to see. If we are able to assist only one family in having a healthier pet for a longer period than was otherwise possible then it was all worth it.