A valuable lesson learned for special needs dogs.
On the morning of my first day to eat exclusively dog food, I had yet to eat even a single meal of only dog food, much less a full days’ worth. I found myself on the first day of eating dog food with 29 left to go….I hadn’t made a plan on what I would eat or when, I just said the heck with it, I’m doing it, we’ll figure this out as we go.
Well, at 7:00 am, I told myself I would pass on breakfast and just snack on some kibble at lunch, or maybe some freeze-dried….Well, lunch came and went, and I had just spent a few hours in our freeze-dried facility where I had the smell of freeze-dried beef liver powder coating my sinuses and inside of my mouth (not a pleasant taste you really want to carry around with you all day), and it certainly didn’t make me hungry.
By 6:00 pm, I still haven’t taken a bite of food and I’m not really sure what I’m going to try first. Eventually, I’m staring at a kitchen table filled personal-sized pizzas Aubree has made for herself and the kids. She looks back at me and says, “well, WE’RE eating, and I suggest you join us, are you doing this or not? I smiled, and just said “ok,” grabbed some Ancient Grains chicken & pork, a few chicken meatballs and sat down.
The first bite I took made me cringe….I thought “I just committed to taking thousands of bites of dog food, and this was just one”. I thought to myself, “what in the world did I just sign up for, and why didn’t I try this for a day or two first?” Well, the truth is, if I had tried this for 2 days first, there’s no way I would have voluntarily said: “let me do this for 30 days.”
Bites 2,3,4,5,6 & 7 weren’t any easier. I wondered to myself, “how could I get out of this?” The truth was, I couldn’t. I had told everyone I knew I was doing it, proclaimed it on social media, and told my kids. I thought of what our customers would if I called it quits after one meal and thought “that’s really showing them how much I care.” Then I thought about my boys, and how pathetic it would be if I gave up on day one. We have a set of family core values that Aubree and I are trying to instill in our boys, and this was an opportunity to lead by example.
We tell our boys all the time: “Serve God. Don’t lie, cheat, or steal…..and never, ever quit.” Well, with that in mind, I knew I had no choice but to continue, and figure out a way to make it 29 more days. So, I decided, I would eat fast, drink a lot of water & find creative ways to prepare the food without adding seasoning, sauces or spices.
If I wanted to make it through this, the key was going to be making sure I had a plan each day, just like we do for our dogs. I mapped out the rest of my month to determine what time of day I had meetings when I would have to plan on avoiding lunches, how to eat dinner when we meet other’s out, and most importantly how to carve out the time needed to prep my own meals each night.
This is when I learned my first lesson. Feeding a dog is something we take for granted often, and we need to make sure we have an easy delivery mechanism. For the most part, you can just feed it to a dog as is. However, one thing I didn’t consider is, what about people who have dogs with special needs, that don’t have teeth or need the food to be warmed before eating it? Well, for these 30 days, I have special needs, make the food in a way I can eat it without spending an hour on it, and in a way that I can replicate it quickly.
What will I try first? As soon as I get home and need dinner quick, I’ll be turning on the stove and heating some water in the tea kettle. This will ensure I have warm water to rehydrate the freeze-dried (warm water works 10 times faster), and I can eat it quickly without waiting. If you have a picky dog or a senior dog that can’t eat easily, this is a great solution to ensuring you can feed them without an hour of meal prep.
Today was a tough day, a nerve-racking day, but also a day I realized I was going to learn a lot about not only myself but also how to make myself think as other pet owners may think. I also realized that by the end of this, I would have a paradigm that no other pet food manufacturer can look through, and that is “how does the dog think/feel about what, how, when, and why it eats what it eats?”