Welcome to Raw Feeders Top 5 Tuesday. Today, I was going to write about the top 5 things I saw at SuperZoo. Then I realized that there weren't 5 things – SuperZoo is amaze-balls – and the topic is kind of boring. When I logged onto Facebook this morning, I saw a meme that said, “5 things to quit right now.” Perfect.
My ideal reader is someone who reminds me of myself – 4 years ago. I knew that I had to make a change to Rodrigo's diet, I was researching raw feeding and overwhelmed, and I had skin as thin as Chiffon. I see reflections of the old me in my Facebook group every day and the weekly emails I receive from “me” inspire many blog posts. Including this attempt to dig deep into the psyche of a new raw feeder.
Until recently, I thought I had a thick skin but who I was I kidding. I'm constantly posting about the nasty things that people say to me. I was heartbroken when not one, but two friends started recruiting “We Hate Kimberly” followers – yeah, I know, we're 12. And I ended a long relationship with a reputable dehydrated dog food brand and a pet blogging community this year.
The Universe is trying to tell me something. It's time for a change.
1. Trying to please everyone.
Trying to please each of my dogs as a raw feeder is expensive, time-consuming, and sometimes necessary – but not required. I have four dogs and one is a picky eater – Scout. He'll eat 95% of the food I put down – that's winning – but every now and then, usually when I'm running late in the morning, he looks at his food, backs away and turns to me with those damn puppy eyes. And before I know it, I'm scrambling like a short-order cook to come up with something that he'll eat.
Yes, I know that he can just eat at dinner, but the puppy eyes. THE PUPPY EYES.
So I've learned to compromise with myself. Instead of dumping his food into a Rubbermaid container for one of the other dogs to eat at dinner and making a new meal for Scout in the 60 seconds I have left before I have to run out the door – I throw a container of bone broth in the microwave or I grab a gallon of goat milk out of the fridge. Works every time for him.
Damn, I forgot to thaw a gallon of goat milk last night.
2. Fearing change.
I fed BARF model – or FrankenBARF because nobody puts Baby in the corner – for years because Prey Model was too hard, too inconvenient, too messy, took up too much space, blah blah blah. To be honest, I just didn't want to do it because after taking the time to set myself up for FrankenBARF, I didn't want to learn what it took to feed Prey Model.
By the way, Prey Model is easier. So much easier.
My fear of change cost $650 for two meat grinders (the first one broke) when I could have spent a few bucks for four large, used towels or blankets at the local secondhand shop for the dogs to chow down on at meal time. I thought my dogs would drag their food all over the place because, in the beginning, they did. Today, my dogs all have their “spots” for their bully sticks and duck feet – they would eat their duck frames in their spot too. The rest of their food can be eaten out of their dishes.
We don't have to adopt every raw feeding practice, but we shouldn't write them off completely without trying.
3. Living in the past.
Every day, someone posts something in my group that starts with…
- Everyone is probably going to rip me a new one for this…
- I'm sorry to keep asking questions about raw feeding…
- I have a question about raw feeding, if this isn't okay, delete it…
- I know people probably don't care, but my dog ate raw…
- I know this is a stupid question, but…
All of these timid posts come from people who have had their teeth metaphorically kicked in when they asked a question in a Facebook raw feeding group. Groups on Facebook suck because we're expecting thousands of adults to come together on social media and behave like adults. Ego abounds because we're human and social media makes it too easy to forget that words hurt.
If you are a victim of a Facebook group beat down, move on. I recently received the best advice from several people: Unfriend, Block, Move On. First off, happy people don't attack strangers on social media. There is no point diving into a conversation with someone who is struggling with their own personal crisis. Second, people who are shitty to others love the attention an argument brings – so don't feed into their need for drama. Simply stop responding and move on. Life is too short – hug your dog.
4. Putting yourself down.
You know those people who started raw feeding one day and never had a problem; found it completely easy to understand? Yeah, I'm not one of those people. It took years for me to finally understand the raw food diet and how to address each of my dog's needs. Whenever someone corrected or contradicted me, I felt like a moron.
Over the past few years, I've learned about fat-soluble vs. water-soluble vitamins, Omega 3s and Omega 6s, and the difference between allergies and intolerances. For me, raw feeding is a learning process and I've learned to stop getting down on myself for not knowing things and enjoy the lessons.
Although raw has been around longer than kibble, it's still a new diet or many of us and we're all learning; even the people who think they know it all.
Whenever I think of “overthinking” I think of the 80/10/5/5 ratio: 80% muscle meat, 10% bone, 5% liver, and 5% offal (secreting organs). How many discussions have you seen that started with someone saying “I have 50 pounds of pork, so how do I calculate the 80/10/5/5?” Yeah, I know the math of it all, but IT DOESN'T MATTER!!! I get that some people just want to do their best for their dog and doing the math to create a balanced diet is “best.”
But that's a myth. One that I finally let go of this year.
The idea of “balance” comes from an industry (kibble) that needs to create a balanced diet to meet AAFCO standards; standards created by other kibble brands. Our dogs need a diet that balances over time and the beauty of this is that we can be creative at mealtime, not stressed. I no longer freak out when I forget to thaw food. I no longer stress over not having all the ingredients to make a balanced diet.
I just feed my dogs and move on. Their poop will tell me what they need.
Be Excellent to Each Other
Some may ask, “what about treating each other well?” I have found that when I followed steps one through five above, I stopped caring about what others thought about me or said about me.
Of course, this is a great habit to adopt. I have been practicing this list for a few months now and I've found that when you stay true to creating great new habits – aka, be excellent to yourself – you don't have to worry about how you treat others. It becomes effortless to treat others well and the folks who pose a challenge slowly begin to drift away.
So the next time someone spouts off an opinion about raw feeding cloaked as a fact, smile and internally agree to disagree. Then move on.