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forAnima.com, an eco- and animal-friendly, vegan online marketplace

foranimastartWould you like to experience an all-new vegan shopping experience? Do you want to buy or sell animal-friendly products? We found something you might find very interesting… forAnima.com is the place to join. This brand new concept is an animal-friendly community marketplace where animal-friendly brands can create their own stores, decide how they wish to ship their products and offer promotions. In addition to a “one-stop shop” for eco- and animal-friendly products and services, we also offer “groups” for animal lovers and vegan businesses to communicate about the green movement. forAnima is created to provide vegans with a place to virtually hang out, but also to appeal to mainstream shoppers and show that there is no need to shop in way that harms animals or the environment. The foranima.com team is a caring group of vegans who have been animal rescuers their entire lives, and animal activists for the past 10 years.

foranimaPint

We had the great pleasure of talking to forAnima founder Sarit this week and found out what inspired her to create this exciting marketplace, why she became vegan, how she wants to make an impact on animals’ lives with forAnima.com and how you can join this platform or get involved with their mission. Listen and enjoy an entertaining and informative interview.

Sarit recommends following websites:

www.mercyforanimals.org

www.veganoutreach.org

Foranima Logo JPG

Website: www.foranima.com

Twitter: @foranima

Facebook: ForAnima

Pinterest: ForAnima

If you liked the interview please share it with your community or feel free to leave a comment. Thank you for making an impact! We are humans, so if you see any typos please send us an e-mail to info@packpeople.com – Thank you!

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‘Original Sock Dogs’ made from scratch – Interview with the founder

I saw a link on a website which transferred me to another website and then another website. I lost track of what I was actual looking for, and somehow I ended up on http://www.sockdogs.com. This is one of the cutest hand crafted ideas I have seen this year. “Original Sock Dogs”… the name says it all. Artisan Stacey’s idea arose after a visit in Taiwan where she met a stray dog. In honor of this special dog. and to support her local Humane Society Organization, she started making original sock dogs from scratch.

Read our interview with Stacey, the founder of Original Sock Dogs, and see how an individual can make a difference in animals’ and people’s lives, by doing what she loves to do.

Original Sock Dogs by Stacey

Specializes In: Handmade Collectible Plush Art

Interviewee: Stacey Hsu – Kansas City, Missouri.

How and when did the idea for your business with handmade sock dogs come about?

Every year, my local shelter, the Humane Society of Greater Kansas City, holds a silent and live pet-themed art auction called Art Unleashed. In the past, I donated small paintings and illustrations, but I wanted to make something different in 2005. I found a great book called, of all things, Stupid Sock Creatures (John Murphy). Instead of making “sock monsters” I decided to make sock dogs to fit with the pet-themed auctions.

What is your background as an artist?

I’ve always enjoyed writing and drawing. When I was 8, I sat in my room and practiced drawing Garfield and Snoopy day and night—mostly to impress my friends and family. I enjoyed drawing so much that I kept up with it, and eventually branched out to other art forms like sculpting, character design and animation.  I have a degree in Advertising, but chose to follow a different path, and worked as an editor, producer and director at Hallmark Cards for 10 years. Now I’m taking care of my kiddos and running my own business from home. (Thank you, Etsy!)

Can you describe to us the material you use for the sock dogs, and the work that goes into making them?

They really are made of socks! (All brand new socks, I might add. I’ve been asked!) Most Original Sock Dogs’ noses are made from big black buttons—there’s just something about those big dog noses! Lately, most of the dogs I’ve been making are customs based on people’s pets. Each one is a new adventure! I learn a little about the dog before I start (personality, etc) and take a good long look at their photos. In a way, I suppose I meditate on all of that before I begin sewing. I want each custom Original Sock Dog to represent the real dog not just in appearance but also in spirit.

What do you love most about handcrafting sock dogs?

It’s so exciting to see a bunch of raw materials transform into a real character. Although the basic elements are the same on many of the sock dogs, they each take on their own shape and attitude. I can’t wait to add the finishing touches and see them spring to life.

Do you also create other animals?

I do! I’ve made seagulls, bunnies, bears and cats out of socks. I also make collectible artist bears from mohair and plush when time allows.

I checked your picture gallery on www.sockdogs.com and your etsy shop on http://www.etsy.com/shop/originalsockdogs. You are an amazing artist – every single sock dog is unique and absolutely adorable (smiling puppy faces)! I have already found my personal favorite. Do you have a favorite sock dog?

I don’t have one single favorite, but there is something really meaningful to me about the Sock Pit Bulls I make. I’ve worked with quite a few Pitties while volunteering at the shelter and they are really amazing, devoted, loving dogs. I’d like to think that I’m helping to soften their image a little, for people who fear or misunderstand the breed.

You offer many different sock dogs as well as custom dogs. If I want you to create a sock dog of my dog, what do I have to do?

To order a custom, all you need to do is visit my etsy shop, purchase a custom listing and email me photos of your dog. All customs are $85 plus shipping.

On your Facebook page people can follow your sock dogs/cats. I read you are fully booked for Christmas 2012 – and congrats! – but you can still do some of the itty pitties, right? And what are itty pitties?

Yes, I can still work in a few itty pitties! They are small (3” high) needle felted Pit Bull puppies that are posable and of course, each is one of a kind. Needle felting is a process of using a very sharp needle to poke and shape wool and other natural fibers. The end results are so cute, I don’t even mind occasionally stabbing my fingers while making them!

For a unique holiday idea, you offer gift certificates. How long does it take to finish a single custom sock dog and how much does it cost?

From start to finish, a custom can take anywhere from 4-12 hours. It depends on the complexity of the markings, the type of coat the animals has (long or short) and other distinguishing features or special requests. The time it takes to have it ready for a customer also depends on how many orders are already on the schedule—it’s first come, first served!

What is the secret of your success? Do you have any ideas, tips or advice for the next talented artist who might want to start a business like yours?

You have to love what you do. If you don’t have a huge passion for your craft, you just won’t stick with it. I have a 5 year old, a 2 year old, a husband and 4 pets that need me, and even when I’m dead tired at the end of the day, I still look forward to heading into my studio and designing and sewing the dogs. If you have a love of what you do and make, it will show in the finished product.  You might also consider donating a portion of your sales to a non-profit or mission that is close to your heart. It keeps you going, knowing that you are helping someone other than yourself!

You are an animal rescue supporter, you volunteer at your local no-kill shelter, and you donate 10% of your sock dog sales to the Humane Society of Greater Kansas City. Why are volunteers important for animal shelters and what have you learned through your work at the Humane Society?

Volunteers are absolutely essential to shelters. They are the glue that holds all of the shelter efforts together. They help coordinate events, help garner donations, take dogs out for adoption days, and spend one on one time with cats and dogs that need socialization, love and affection. I started volunteering to get my “dog fix”—I didn’t have any at the time. Now I have two dogs and two cats—all from shelters. So if you decide to volunteer, get ready to fall hopelessly in love with the animals you meet.

I saw the cute Johnny Justice Sock Dogs on your Facebook Fan Page. Can you tell us a little about “Johnny Justice”?

Jonny is one of the Pit Bulls rescued from Michael Vick’s dog fighting kennels. He was adopted by a loving family and has been certified as a service dog. He has worked in libraries, helping kids learn to read, and is a goodwill ambassador for his breed.

Can you describe an experience that has particularly moved or inspired you?

During a trip to Taiwan in 2004, my husband and I came across a stray black dog with an injured front leg. She was being bullied by the other strays—chased away from food scraps, snapped at, it was awful. She basically attached herself to me and followed me around all morning. My heart seriously broke that day.

This is the cute dog Stacey met in Taiwan.

I wanted so much to just fold her in my arms and take her with me. But we were traveling by train, and not knowing the country or the language very well, I felt helpless about the situation. We bought her a warm meal at a street vendor and sat with her while she ate, to protect her from the other dogs. I cried the whole way back on the train, and for days after. I vowed to do something to help other dogs like her when we returned to the states, and that’s why I started volunteering. I’ve always loved animals, but I think that sweet girl gave my compassion levels a huge boost—ever since I’ve been dedicated to finding ways to help the animals, through sharing my time and my art.

In general, why should people adopt from a rescue?

If you are looking for a companion, someone to love who will love you back unconditionally—please adopt from a shelter. There are so many animals waiting in shelters for loving homes. And every time a dog or cat is adopted from a shelter, space opens up for another homeless animal who otherwise wouldn’t have a chance to find a forever home. I also believe that shelter animals know they have been “rescued” and possess a special kind of gratitude toward their people.

If you could give pet owners one piece of advice what would it be?

Love them while they are here. Their lives are so short—never take them for granted.

Do you have pets of your own?

My two dogs, Lolly and Ava are both from the shelter where I volunteer. They are black dogs, which are very often overlooked in shelters. They are also two of the most loving, devoted, goofy, wonderful girls ever. Our two cats, also from shelters, think that they own us!

Which websites or pet-related books would you recommend to PackPeople?

I would definitely recommend that everyone check out their local shelter or rescue’s web site. Get to know what they are about, what they need, and how you can help out. There are so many ways, big and little, to pitch in and make life better for these wonderful dogs and cats. I’d also recommend taking a look at bestfriends.org and gentlebarn.org.

In terms of print publications, I am a big fan of The Bark Magazine. Great articles and a pro-rescue point of view.

Website: http://www.sockdogs.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Original-Sock-Dogs

Etsy-Shop: http://www.etsy.com/shop/originalsockdogs

Original Sock Dogs is also a proud member of HeArtsSpeak.

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Interview with ‘Pinups for Pitbulls’ – Advocacy and Artwork

Betty Grable, Marilyn Monroe, Diana Dors, Rita Hayworth… once posted in the lockers of G.I.s during World War II, today Pin Up Girls are taking new directions and themes. One of these exciting new directions comes from an organization I discovered a while ago. It’s Deirdre “Little Darling” Franklin’s organization, Pinups for Pitbulls, Inc.,  founded in 2005. I stumbled upon ‘Little Darling’s Pinups for Pitbulls’ 2013 calendar cover picture on Facebook and I loved the art work, and of course, the dogs. After browsing through the pictures and reading the mission and vision of this organization I wanted to learn more about it and contacted this terrific, creative non-profit group. They got right back to me and were pleased to participate in our ongoing series of interviews.

I have never met Deirdre in person, but can say that she is a pleasure to work with and a lovely person. She is a dedicated animal lover, an advocate with the mission to reestablish the defamed reputation of Pit Bull-type dogs as America’s premier companion animal, war hero, and therapy dog.

Pinups for Pitbulls, Inc. works to educate the public about the history and temperament of the American Pit Bull Terrier and pit bull type dogs, to raise awareness about Breed Specific Legislation and Breed-Specific abuse. Read the interview and see for yourself how Deirdre started her non-profit charity, learn about Pit Bulls, and don’t forget to order your 2013 Calendar early and support these beloved bully-breed friends. Shipping will begin at the end of this summer.

We also want to mention that Carla Lou, Deirdre’s beloved 18 year old Pit Bull (cover pic) passed away from cancer last week. RIP and thank you for your service.

How did the idea for Pinups for Pitbulls come about?

I was frustrated by all of the pit bull-type dogs that I witnessed being pulled from the streets of New Orleans/Baton Rouge post-Katrina. I was there doing animal search & rescue work with the HSUS and In Defense of Animals. I realized that since I had a great following of my Pin Up modeling work and those same people helped me raise money to pay for my flight to New Orleans to do my rescue work that I could do something with the attention I had and the faith that people had in me.

What is your background?

I have a B.A. in Film Production and Screenwriting and am nearly finished with my Masters of Science in Public Policy at Drexel University in Philadelphia. I’ve worked in various fields of employment from burlesque performances to credit counseling and foreclosure mitigation. I have an eclectic resume for sure!

What do you love most about educating people about Pitbulls?

I love watching the wheels turn in people’s minds and seeing how things start to make sense, especially for those people who truly believed the negative stereotyping. Once people understand that pit bulls are dogs and that all dogs are individuals that can only be judged by their individual behavior, it helps quickly transform the ignorant into the converted. We can’t change everyone’s minds but it is really gratifying when we can. Knowing those people are going to share the knowledge that they gained means we can get closer to removing the stigma attached to the term “pit bull.”

You and your team of dedicated volunteers and animal advocates are active in over 20 states in the U.S. What does a regular seminar organized by Pinups for Pitbulls look like?

We have only held one seminar thus far, but have been invited to speak at Law Schools in Philadelphia and New York. In the seminar that we hosted, we had Drayton Michaels (Pitbullguru.com) and Don Cleary of National Canine Research Council present. At our gala last November, we had Katie Bray (Legislative Attorney for Best Friends) and Anthony Barnett (Founder of Game Dog Guardian) present to our guests. We do our best to keep our approach positive and focused on the dogs. We are submitting our first round of grant applications so that we can bring our seminar series on the road. In the meantime, we’ll continue to speak from our table at various tattoo and comic conventions. We can reach broad spectrums of people in both arenas and have great success educating the public at both.

Calendar 2013 – Doron Petersan and Lucas – Photos by Celeste Giuliano Photography
Hair by Raina Frank Clarke / Make-up: Kirsten Sylvester

You also offer an annual calendar with beautiful girls and dogs, posing for a cause. Who is in this year’s calendar — and would you give us a sneak peek about your calendar for next year?

I can provide the cover image of the 2013 calendar. This year’s calendar features Pin Up girls from all over the U.S. Each year we host a contest that includes an essay and this year, we have many girls who won that contest and will be featured. Although the calendar has been shot entirely, we are still laying it out. The theme this year is the human-canine bond celebrated through the Norman Rockwell and Gil Elvgren’s styling. The calendar was shot exclusively by Celeste Giuliano Photography that included her make up and hair team, Kirsten Sylvester and Raina Frank Clarke. Our new Pin Ups are from CA, FL, NC, GA, and many other states. We are excited to have new energy on our team in these regions and beyond.

Why Pitbull-type dogs? And how would you describe the temperament of a Pitbull?

I personally had two pit bull-type dogs. One recently passed away from cancer at the age of eighteen. I’ve had her for nearly 17 of her eighteen years. Baxter Bean is my other pit bull-type dog, he’s 7 now. I never thought I’d become a pit bull advocate, I just fell in love with my own dog, the late Carla Lou and knew I’d have to defend her good name for the duration of her lifetime. Insurance companies, landlords, people of all kinds discriminate against them based on fear and media reporting, and I wanted to make sure I could keep her and her kind safe. They are our family and I know they are the family to everyone who advocates for them. They deserve to live as much as any other kind of dog.

The temperament of a “pit bull” is not an easy answer to supply. For starters, there is no such breed as a “pit bull” which is why I refer to them as pit bull-type (meaning AmStaff, American Pit Bull, and these days, shelter mix). However, most pit bull-type dogs are typically physically strong, emotionally tuned into their people, and are nurturing much like the majority of dogs out there. They just want to be loved, fed and feel secure, like any other dog (and lets be honest, just like people want as well). I would describe them as gentle, noble and devoted dogs but they are still individuals first.

What should people know before adopting a Pit Bull? Is there a “perfect candidate” to adopt a Pit Bull?

People should be aware that dogs are individuals. If they’re adopting a rescued pit bull-type dog, they are getting a mixed bag genetically, but 80% of what they will get out of their dog will be what they put in. Some are high energy and some are extremely lazy, many will be in-between. What you should have is the ability to tolerate negativity from ignorant people who will make assumptions about your dog and you will need the inner fortitude to represent your dog and others like your dog in a positive light. People need to know that all kinds of people love these dogs and all kinds of people will be positive role models. Screaming at a stranger on the street who crossed over the road because they were fearful of your dog is not going to help advance our cause.

What are the most common myths about Pit Bulls?

There is no such thing as a locking jaw. There is not truth behind the theory that pit bull-type dogs can tolerate pain more than others. There is no truth in the idea that all pit bull-type dogs will react a certain way to another dog, a person, or a bunny rabbit. Some will adore cats and others might not. Treat them as individuals and train them with positive reinforcement methods.

Calendar 2013 – Rachel ‘Love’ Robison and Itty Bitty – Photos by Celeste Giuliano Photography
Hair by Raina Frank Clarke / Make-up: Kirsten Sylvester

What do you think are the reasons that this breed is so misunderstood in the U.S.?

I know that the reason is largely due to media hype and the excitement and fear that people feel when they talk about “pit bull” stories in the media. Studies have shown that if the words “pit bull” are used in a story that the story will circulate 300 more times than if it merely says “dog” or another type of dog. It’s ridiculous and it costs almost 6000 pit bull-type dogs their lives in shelters every day.

Pit Bulls and many other innocent dogs get euthanized every day. I read that 200 Pit Bulls are killed every day in Los Angeles County alone. In your opinion, what should, or has to, change?

A lot needs to change. I can tell you that it has to be more than 200 killed per day, but perhaps not. 1 being killed a day is upsetting enough, but the amount killed each day across the U.S. is an embarrassment. I believe that No Kill is something that can be achieved and after talking to Nathan Winograd about how to achieve No Kill in my case study, I can tell you that it will take a long time and a great deal of fortitude. Dogs have a marketing issue. People do not typically think “lets go to the shelter” to find their dog, they still seek out breeders. People who do go to a shelter may have pre-conceived ideas about the types of dog they do or do not want to bring home. It certainly doesn’t help that they are singled out on many leasing contracts for renters. All of this adds up. We do a decent job on our Facebook wall to advocate daily for dogs across the country that are in need of a home. We have gotten dogs adopted weekly, nowhere near in the numbers that we would hope, but saving one does help. We are so grateful to the people who follow our page and circulate these dogs in need. We are happy to have many successful adoptions through our page, especially since we are not even a rescue.

You also collaborate with rescue groups and support pet adoption. In general, why should people adopt from a rescue?

People should adopt through a rescue or through their local shelters. We believe that supporting the people who are giving these dogs a chance is ideal for many reasons. Adopting through a rescue can allow you to get history on a dog who may have been in foster. Rescue groups will often take back a dog if the adoption does not work out. It’s hard work being in rescue or shelter work, and it’s noble work. I have the utmost respect for people who give their personal time to help advocate for all creatures.

What do you need the most for your mission — and how can people can get involved in Pinups for Pitbulls’s efforts?

We need funds and events to be hosted across the globe. Additionally, we need street team volunteers who are willing to receive a packet of fliers/info from us and post it wherever they go, especially places like coffee shops and restaurants with the ability to post information. This helps get out word out to people who might not be looking for our kind of group or who may feel helpless and really want to help support a cause, but may not know where to begin. We love when our volunteers can feel the personal satisfaction of knowing that they are affecting change, and we try to make it easy for that to happen. We’ve done all of the legwork (literally).

What kinds of things do you do to raise awareness about your organization and your work?

We have tables at tattoo and comic book conventions, we host fundraisers, and we have resources available through our website and Facebook page to help people advocate on behalf of dogs in their own time. I’ve also recently lobbied Washington, D.C. for the first time in my life and was successful in getting Representative Andrews (NJ) to co-sponsor the amendment to H.R.2492 — Animal Fighting Spectator Prohibition Act of 2011. We are actively seeking grants to help us further our mission through hosting seminars across the nation, and eventually the globe.

If you could give pet owners one piece of advice what would it be?

Do not shock, choke, or use prong collars on your dog. Please use positive reinforcement methods and an easy walk-type harness with a martingale collar. Keep your dogs safe and never set them up to fail. Ok, that was more than one piece of advice…

This is Carla Lou – shot by Ivy Darling of Wandering Bohemian Photography

Do you have pets of your own?

I just lost the love of my life and the reason I started Pinups for Pitbulls, Inc. this week. Her name was Carla Lou and she was eighteen when she passed. She was buried on Monday in a pet cemetery amongst K-9’s who died in the line of duty, WWI & WWII dogs, and more. She is in good company.

I also have a pit bull mix named Baxter Bean (7), a Harrier named Zoe (12), and a Lab/Shepherd mix named Lexi (12).

Do you have any upcoming events?

All of our events can be viewed on our website, http://www.pinupsforpitbulls.org

Our upcoming events include tattoo conventions in Greensboro, NC; Metairie, LA; and many more.

Which websites, pet-related links or books would you recommend to PackPeople?

Pitbullguru.com

Gamedogguardian.com

Nationalcanineresearchcouncil.com

Books:

Sticky Fingers’ Sweets: 100 Super-Secret Vegan Recipes by Doron Petersan

(Doron is a “pit bull” mom, an amazing baker and is on our board)

Oogy: The Dog Only a Family Could Love Wallace: The Underdog Who Conquered a Sport, Saved a Marriage, and Championed Pit Bulls–One Flying Disc at a Time by Jim Gorant and soon to be a book about Carla Lou’s legacy

Twitter: @Pinups4Pitbulls

Facebook: Pinups for Pitbulls

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Articles Causes and Petitions Cool and Fun Stuff Created for Rescues and Non-Profits Fun Stuff and Pet Companies

A new rescue program launched by Ruff Ruff & Meow

What would your pet say if they could talk? Ruff Ruff & Meow? Let your pets express themselves through their apparel and allow them to make a statement and be heard!

Caroline Leedom, founder and president of Ruf Ruff & Meow explains to us her new rescue program to support animal rescues & non-profit groups. Not only does her program offer support but it also brings a creative and fun approach to doggie apparel.

Listen to the short 7 minute chat with Caroline and learn how you can save money and support a cause.

Get your favorite pic on canvas

You can learn how to support your favorite rescue group, get a discount on Ruff Ruff’s humorous doggie apparel or sign up your organization to receive a donation. Caroline also shares with us her new products like the canvas prints and the baby line.

Furthermore, we are happy to announce that Ruff Ruff & Meow partnered with PackPeople, YAY! We are going to list the top 25 items from Ruff Ruff & Meow in our upcoming PackPeople shop and donate 20% of our profits to small, struggling rescue organizations. For more information about this innovative company, you can listen to our audio interview with Caroline here.

Enjoy the chat and spread the word to help animals and rescues in need!
RUFF RUFF and MEOW Update – New Rescue Program launched by PackPeople

Sample coupon for potential rescues
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Books and Movies Fun Stuff and Pet Companies Interviews on packpeople.com Lilly Recommends

Show Dog – Interview with author Josh Dean [Audio]

A Facebook post on packpeople’s fan page led me to this year’s American Kennel Club’s show results. Even though I’m not a huge fan of dog shows, I was interested to know more about the community. Breeders, proud handlers and overexcited owners get the ribbons with the highest rankings and strive to present the most beautiful and flawless dog on earth. Show Dog: The Charmed Life and Trying Times of a Near-Perfect Purebred gives an excellent insight into this community, as accomplished writer Josh Dean follows ‘Jack,’ an Australian Shepherd, on his journey to the big leagues at Westminster.

I wanted to understand the hype around it, and that’s the reason we contacted Josh Dean for an interview. We had the great pleasure of hearing this excellent journalist and editor share about this first book of his, and why he decided to write about show dogs.

Show Dog – Interview with author Josh Dean by PackPeople NEW: We’ve made it even easier to listen to our audio interviews! This audio is 31.16 minutes of highly interesting and educational content. Use the little flags in the blue bar in the SoundCloud Player to navigate through the questions and content. Get this interview as a Podcast here.

Qualify to win a copy of ‘Show Dog’ here. You can’t wait? Buy it here: Show Dog: The Charmed Life and Trying Times of a Near-Perfect Purebred

About the interviewee: Josh Dean is a magazine writer and veteran editor at various known magazines. He currently does not own a dog of his own (we hope he’ll change this soon:) and lives with his wife and son in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. He is a member of the US elephant member team and obsessed with international soccer.

Josh’s recommendations:

Books:
The Wolf in the Parlor: The Eternal Connection between Humans and Dogs

Animal books by Jeffrey Moussaieff – This is our pick:
The Dog Who Couldn’t Stop Loving: How Dogs Have Captured Our Hearts for Thousands of Years

Websites:

Dogster – www.dogster.com

NBC Universal’s site www.petside.com

For more information check the http://showdogthebook.com

Twitter: @joshdean66

Facebook: Josh Dean

Facebook: Jack the Show Dog 

If you liked the interview please share it with your community or feel free to leave a comment. Thank you for making an impact!

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Fun Stuff and Pet Companies Interviews on packpeople.com Pet Care

‘Human grade’ dehydrated pet food from The Honest Kitchen – Interview with Lucy

‘What are you feeding your dogs?’ is the 2nd most important question people ask me on PackPeople. I always recommend the food I’m feeding and recommend friends and interested dog owners to the shop where I buy my dog food. Pet food is a complex subject in the pet owners’ world and one of our most-discussed topics. I’ve experimented a lot, tried many foods… kibbles, canned, raw… and decided to feed them holistic food, also adding Omega 3 (Fish Oil), raw veggies (like a carrot or a piece of apple, bananas, potatoes). Sometimes I take the time to cook for my dogs – I want them to be happy and healthy. I’m pretty happy with the food I’m feeding (Blue Buffalo and Lotus), but still not 100% convinced about the ingredients.

I found “The Honest Kitchen” on the exhibitor list of the Vegas Pet Expo this year. Premium dehydrated whole food sounds great, right? The Honest Kitchen makes human grade pet foods from dehydrated whole food ingredients. After I explored their great and informative website I wanted to learn more about the food Lucy and her dedicated team has been producing for cats and dogs since 2002. I contacted The honest Kitchen and they promptly agreed to do an interview.

Dehydrated healthy food - LOVE (Grain-free diet for dogs of all life stages (puppies, pregnancy, nursing, active adult) of all breeds and sizes)

We had the great pleasure to send the president and founder of “The Honest kitchen” Lucy our questions and to receive expert knowledge about processing the food (actually it’s not processed – read why not), what dehydration means, she talks about the customer satisfaction and the benefits of feeding whole food to our pets. Lucy also shared her insights with us and explained why and how “The Honest Kitchen” has found success with their variety of foods, treats and supplements.

Start today and get 10% off by using the code Lucy mentions in the interview. Give this excellent food a try – it’s worth it!

It’s a pleasure interviewing “The Honest Kitchen” as one of our first pet food producers on PackPeople.

Where did you get the idea to start “The Honest Kitchen”? What is your personal background?

I’ve always had an interest in food and nutrition. We grew produce at our family home in England and I love to cook, too.

I think I’ve always had a strong understanding of the link between good food and good health – we were brought up eating whole foods not junk food – and I think it was a natural progression that I became interested in doing a homemade diet for my dog.

I began making his homemade meals from scratch and while I loved the results and saw his ear infections clear right up, it became quite time consuming and messy. So I began trying to think of a way to still feed him whole foods, but in a more convenient format. I have a bachelor’s degree with honors in Equine and Business studies, from Moreton Morrell Agricultural College in England.

What was the first meal you prepared for your own dog?

I think it was a concoction of ground beef with spinach, carrots and oats – the very first prototype for what would eventually become The Honest Kitchen’s inaugural diet, Verve.

Raw ingredients - Human-Grade or Food-Grade refers to the quality of a finished product. The term applies to a product that is legally suitable and approved for consumption by a person (“edible”) www.thehonestkitchen.com

What are the benefits of raw ingredients?

High heat and high pressure can destroy the natural nutrients, enzymes and pigments in raw foods. When you keep the ingredients in a raw state, or prepare them very gently as we do with dehydration, more of the natural nutrition is maintained.

Your company uses a gentle dehydration process. What does this mean?

Dehydration is a slow, gentle process that removes only the moisture from fresh raw ingredients, and maintains most of the natural nutrition without the need for chemicals or irradiation.

You use raw fresh ingredients, “human-grade” and processed in a human food facility in the U.S. What does the processing progress look like?

Our facility is pristine – lots of stainless steel, everyone in white coats, gloves and hairnets. It’s a busy atmosphere but not noisy or chaotic. There’s a huge focus on quality control and testing too.

Our fresh raw vegetables and fruits are harvested at the peak of their ripeness, then washed and trimmed to size. The produce is then dehydrated below 104°F using warm air to gently blow away the moisture in a slow process that takes several hours. Our produce is still considered ‘raw’ after dehydration is complete.

Our fresh raw meats and white fish undergo gentle steaming at 140°F to 165°F, to eliminate pathogens without irradiation. We then carefully evaporate the moisture using dehydration, which leaves more nutrients intact than harsh cooking, canning or extrusion. The meats leave the dehydration process at about 125°F. The entire process (including steaming) takes about 45 minutes. Our salmon is freeze-dried in a flash process that removes the moisture under vacuum.

Our potatoes and grains are flash heated (and rolled in the case of our grains) to help break down the cellulose, which aids in digestion. They are then gently dehydrated to remove the moisture.

Where do the ingredients come from?

Our ingredients are sourced primarily from the United States, but we buy differnet ingredients from around the world – for example our Quinoa is form Bolivia, our green beans are form France and our kelp is from Iceland. We do not use any food ingredients from China at all.

What are the benefits to buying your food instead of making it myself.

I think the convenience is a big factor. Home cooking for pets is a lot of fun but it can be time consuming and also challenging, to ensure that the meals are nutritionally balanced and complete.

I usually add water to my dog’s kibble and let it stay a little – and I’m always astonished at how much its volume increases. A half full bowl of dog food is completely full after the kibbles absorbed the water. Does this happen with your food as well?

Yes, our foods expand considerably when hydrated with warm water!

According to your survey, 41% of your customers have seen a reduction in their pets chewing at their feet, 72% enjoy improved digestion, 21% reduced or completely eliminated one or more of their pet’s medications since they started feeding them your food. Would you say that investing in high quality food means saving on vet bills and maintaining a happier, healthier pet?

Dogs are allowed in this kitchen - Lucy (Founder and President) in her "Honest Kitchen"

Absolutely, we have many testimonials from customers who have been able to reduce or eliminate their pets’ medications after starting on our foods and that represents a savings in vet bills over the long term (and immediately in many cases, where people have been spending a fortune on steroids, antibiotics and other drugs to try to overcome chronic health problems like ear infections, itching, GI upset and so on, which are directly related to the diet.

Many people still aren’t aware of the link but as time goes on consumers are becoming more and more education and understand the links between food and health. As a company we’re very dedicated to that education.

We talked about your product with friends and dog owners. Most of them think that, compared to standard foods, your product is somewhat pricey. How would you convince people to buy from The Honest Kitchen?

Our foods are indeed more costly than many other pet foods on the market. The price is a direct function of the cost to make our food; dehydration is a relatively more expensive method of making the food, compared with canning or extrusion. Additionally, our raw ingredients cost a lot more because they are human edible, not feed grade. Good quality food does cost more but it’s an investment that many people want to make in their pet’s long term health. We could make our foods much more cheaply by forgoing the human food production facility and making the diets in a plant that doesn’t also make human food under FDA inspection.

We could also use Chinese ingredients and save loads of money that way – but these are not compromises we’re willing to make. We’re really not trying to be the most affordable food – we’re focused on quality and integrity, with more of a ‘no expense spared’ approach. Of course I recognize this isn’t for everyone, but we have a really strong following of customers who do want the best for their pets and recognize good food as a true cornerstone of health for their beloved pets, so they’re willing to make the investment.

A 10 lbs. box of The Honest Kitchen’s dog food makes 40 lbs fresh food. You also offer trial sized and mini samples for people who want to get started. You have 8 different dog foods and 2 different cat foods, treats and supplements. What is your newest product and what made you decide to create it?

Love and Grace are our two newest foods. Love is a grain free beef formula for dogs and Grace is a grain free turkey formula for cats. We created both these in direct response to our customers’ requests!

I also saw teas on the website. What is the benefit of adding tea?

Stunning looking and healthy dogs - Beautiful Rhodesian Ridgebacks

Steeping herbs in hot water (making a ‘tea’) is a recognized way of helping to release the medicinal properties from the herbs.

We checked The Dog Food Advisor’s website were pleased to see that The Honest Kitchen is highly recommended, receiving 4 of 5 stars. The Honest Kitchen’s Zeal and Love foods received 5 stars. Are these your best sellers?

Our top sellers are actually Force and Keen!

Do you have a personal favorite?

I think Force is still my all-time favorite – I really love the way it smells when it’s hydrated. My Rhodesian Ridgebacks like all the recipes and my Pug (a senior from Pug rescue who’s also blind) likes Zeal the best

You produce 100.000 pounds of dog food in a month and ship your food worldwide. I can shop online on your website or search for a retailer in my area. I could also become a reseller. What are the requirements to sell your food?

Well, a resale license is the first prerequisite. For the most part (with a few exceptions) we’d also require a store front (a pet supply store or natural foods store for example) and a promise that the store is not in the business of selling puppies or kittens at retail. We are vehemently opposed to puppy mills but do support many pet rescues and also work with responsible breeders.

What advice would you give someone about to launch a new pet care or pet-related business?

I think the main thing is to have a clear purpose behing the business – a reason for being. Second only to that is a real sense of determination! Starting a business was a labor of love for me. There are setbacks and challenges and it can sometimes takes nerves of steel, and a strong instinct or intuition to forge ahead with the idea and make it work. I’m also a big fan of making lists to help stay organized!

Do you have pets of your own?

Yes I have three dogs, two horses and 4 hens! (as well as two children and a husband!)

Are there any specials, holiday or otherwise, you’d like to share with us?

Yes! We have a special just for PackPeople readers. They can enter coupon code PCK12THK on our web site to save 10% off any order over $5.00 at www.thehonestktichen.com

Which websites or pet-related links would you recommend to our PackPeople audience?

The Whole Dog Journal is still one of my favorites www.whole-dog-journal.com. I also love the Truth About Pet Food site www.truthaboutpetfood.com and The Dog Food Project www.dogfoodproject.com  for pet food info.

About the interviewee: Lucy Postins is the company co-founder, Mother Hen and CEO. Lucy started The Honest Kitchen in her own beach cottage kitchen in 2002. Lucy is guardian to Willow and Taro, two Rhodesian Ridgebacks and Jackson, a rescued senior Pug. In addition to the dogs, she also cares for two young daughters, a former racehorse, an elderly pony and a husband.

Web: www.thehonestkitchen.com

Twitter: @honestkitchen

Facebook: The Honest Kitchen

Google+: The Honest Kitchen

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Fun Stuff and Pet Companies Interviews on packpeople.com

‘Soldier Dogs’ – Interview with author Maria Goodavage [Audio]

Maria Goodavage’s book Soldier Dogs will be released on Thursday, March 15 – and we had the great pleasure of talking to the accomplished author last week. We want to share this great interview with our audience, as her stories of soldier dogs contributing to military efforts – and the special bonds that develop between them and their handlers – truly celebrate the heroism, loyalty and sacrifices of these amazing dogs.

Listen and learn about what prompted Maria to write this book, how she got inside information about dogs working for the U.S. Military, what happens to the dogs after they have retired and much more.

Please also check out the bonus photos of some of these great soldier dogs at the bottom of this article… you’ll enjoy them!

Win a copy of ‘Soldier Dogs’ today and also read our review of Soldier Dogs here. You can also get involved and read Maria’s article to inform yourself about a very important bill to pass – the “Canine Members of the Armed Forces Act.” SOLDIER DOGS – Interview with author Maria Goodavage by PackPeople

Billy was one of the few dogs whose kennel Maria got to enter during her research. That's because he's an explosives detection dog (EDD) as opposed to a patrol explosives detection dog (PEDD). You can read about the different occupations military working dogs have in chapter 10, The Diversity of MWD jobs. (Photo: Gunnery Sgt. Kristopher Knight)

About the author: Maria Goodavage is the news editor and a featured writer at Say Media’s Dogster.com. She has been a reporter for USA Today and the San Francisco Chronicle, and is a founding editor of a national guidebook series for dogs, and author ofThe Dog Lover’s Companion to California and The Dog Lover’s Companion to the San Francisco Bay Area.

Goodavage has had a longstanding passion for the dogs of war, which started when her dad – also an author – used to tell her about the stray pups (and wayward monkey) he took in while overseas in World War II, and about the military dogs who helped save lives – and sometimes soldiers’ sanity.

She lives in San Francisco with her husband, daughter, and affable Labrador retriever.

Buy Maria’s book here on PackPeople and support non-profit organizations. We’ll contribute 20% of our profits to Animal Welfare Organizations.

Maria’s book and link recommendations:

War Dogs: Canines in Combat by Michael G. Lemish War dogs by Michael G. Lemish

US War Dog Association

For more information, resources and recommendations please also check the ‘Soldier Dogs’ website.

Twitter: @MariaGoodavage

Facebook: Soldier Dogs

YouTube: Soldierdogsbook’s channel

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Maria Goodavage
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor & Satire Blog The Daily Show on Facebook

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Fun Stuff and Pet Companies Get informed and Educated Interviews on packpeople.com Non - Profits Uncategorized

Kids get involved! – PEP's new program is looking for little stars [Video]

Event today – News at PEP: Erica Callais is the founder of the Pet education project in Shreveport, Louisiana, a non-profit organization dedicated  teaching kids ins & outs of responsible pet ownership.

Each month children who have made a positive impact on the lives of animals in their community or pets in their home are nominated. Winners of this award are granted a special PEP! prize package and will be featured on the Pet Education Project’s website.

Take 6 minutes to watch the news in her latest video chat with Rufino. Learn about the PEP-Squad, PEP’s upcoming events and news.

Show your support and LIKE PEP on Facebook. Meet the PEP Squad now! You want to learn more about PEP? Check our full interview with Erica.

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Fun Stuff and Pet Companies Get informed and Educated Interviews on packpeople.com Non - Profits

At-risk teens, shelter dogs help each other – Interview with Flo from K9 Connection [Video]

A friend of mine told me that his cousin currently takes part in a 3-month program in Philadelphia where teenagers learn to overcome certain fears or work on aggressive behavioral issues – by working with shelter dogs. This piqued my interest: I know that animals are used in special therapy and training programs with children and young people, and are very successful.

The story of his cousin motivated me to look for programs where teenagers and dogs have the chance to work together and benefit from each other, and I found K9 Connection, a 501(c)(3) project of OPCC in Santa Monica, CA. It’s an experience-based program which educates and inspires at-risk teens through bonding with and training homeless shelter dogs in basic obedience and developing the skills to become adoptable.

We had the great pleasure of video chatting with Flo Stueck, Project Manager at K9 Connection. Flo introduced us to her organization’s work and answered questions including: Who can apply for K9 Connection’s services and who are considered at-risk teens? What are the key topics students learn? What kinds of things do they do to raise awareness about their organization? Flo also shared with us some of the more challenging aspects of her job and their upcoming events.

About the interviewee: Flo volunteered at The Pasadena Humane Society with their mobile adoption team socializing the animals, and has also worked with Labrador Rescue and The San Francisco Humane society in the Bay area.

She has run two companies that focus on safely shipping animals throughout the globe, and owned a dog walking and pet shipping consulting business in New York City. Currently she volunteers with WLA Animal Services. A few years ago she moved to Venice and rescued Dunkin, a black Labrador/Golden Retriever. Dunkin is CGC certified and in training to be a therapy dog as well!

Flo recommends:

Visiting the k9 connection “Links” page to find important resources including:

West Side German Shepherd Rescue www.wgsr.org

Los Angeles Animal Services www.laanimalservices.com

K9 Connection

Web: http://www.k9connection.org

Facebook: k9 connection

Twitter: @k9connect

We also interviewed Erica from PEP last year – her organization visits schools and teaches lessons about responsible pet owner ship.

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Fun Stuff and Pet Companies Interviews on packpeople.com Non - Profits

When Artists Come Together to Let HeARTs Speak – Interview with Lisa [Audio]

We’ve all seen some unflattering pictures of dogs and cats taken by animal shelter staff members, in a hurry and with no patience. An ugly blue concrete background and a frightened dog on a slip leash tied to a wall. Not very appealing, right? Sometimes there are no detailed descriptions, or any other pictures, provided by the rescues or shelters; and isn’t the picture of a pet the first impression that makes us move and react? I’ve seen pictures where you can barely identify a dog, much less a breed.

Rufino and I are design/art enthusiasts and we are very happy that we have found HeARTs Speak last year through the website The Unexpected Pit Bull and we loved the work they are doing.  A non-profit organization founded by Lisa Prince Fishler, located in Millbrook, New York, HeARTs Speak is designed to connect rescues/shelters with artists with the intention of breaking down the myth that animals from rescues and shelters are inferior.

When artists come together

HeARTs Speak brings artists together to promote deeper understanding for voiceless animals. How they do that? By taking outstanding pictures: Professional photographs dedicate time, passion and donate photo sessions to homeless pets in an effort to help the dogs communicate their amazing personalities through photographs that in turn, might help them find their forever homes.

We had the great pleasure of  talking to Lisa Prince Fishler, MA, the Founder & Director of HeARTs Speak. We talked about her background, how she came up with the idea to create this beautiful organization and why she believes in the positive impact of animals in human lives. Please listen – and share – to raise awareness about Lisa’s work and her group of caring artists. Also, please check out the website with all of its incredible pictures.

HeARTs Speak – Interview with Lisa Prince Fishler by PackPeople NEW: We’ve made it even easier to listen to our audio interviews! This audio is 28.55 minutes of highly interesting, entertaining as educational content. Use the little flags in the blue bar in the SoundCloud Player to navigate through the questions and content. Get this interview as a Podcast here.

Do you see the difference? A before and after picture of HOPE by Jenny Froh
Lisa and her soul dog Ignatius Bodhi Sattva (aka Iggy) - Photo credit; Hudson River Photographer - Printz Photography

About the interviewee: Lisa Prince Fishler is a nationally published photographer, located in New York’s beautiful Hudson Valley. She is a photographer of, and an advocate for, animals, animal rescue and adoption and serves Dutchess County, Putnam, Ulster, Westchester, Columbia and Greene counties.

She lives with her husband, 3 children, 3 dogs, 3 cats, 3 goats, 20 chickens, 20 guinea hens and 1 cockatiel on a 6 acre organic farm in New York’s beautiful Hudson Valley.

Lisa’s recommendations: 

Red Dog (2011 film) – Based on the legendary true story of the Red Dog who united a disparate local community while roaming the Australian outback in search of his long lost master.

Every Dog Has a Gift: True Stories of Dogs Who Bring Hope & Healing into Our Lives by Rachel McPherson

Love Like a Dog by Anne Calcagno

HeARTs Speak

Web: http://heartsspeak.org

Facebook: HeARTs Speak 

Twitter: @HeARTsSpeakOrg

Printz Photography – http://printzphotography.com

Spreading the word can help save lives! If you liked the interview please share it with your community or feel free to leave a comment. Thank you for making an impact!

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