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2019 is nearly over – O V E R. And as I prepare for the new year, I'm thinking of where I'd like to be twelve months from today. And the first thing that comes to mind is better relationships. I spent years accepting 99% of the friend requests on Facebook. Many turned into great friendships but most I immediately unfollowed and have no idea who they are and people deserve better than to be a notch on someone's follower count. Who cares if I have 5,000 friends when I don't know any of them?
This made me think of many of the people I follow, fellow pet parents, pet lovers, and raw feeding advocates. Do I know any of them?
All this overthinking to come up with one New Years' resolution lead me to the idea of a Blog Hop in the fresh food community.
The point of this event is to give you, the readers, an inside peek into my world as a raw feeder and influencer as well as others that you may follow. We're here to raise healthier pets, right? Wouldn't our community be even better, stronger, if we took some time to get to know each other?
Keep the Tail Wagging Open House
Your Host: Kimberly Gauthier
Who are you and share a little about your blog and why you started it?
I'm Kimberly Gauthier (go-tea-ay) and I'm the owner of Keep the Tail Wagging. I started my blog in December 2011 as a way to share my experience raising littermates while promoting rescue and responsible breeding. By the way, I had success with littermates thanks to an amazing dog trainer/animal behaviorist and I knew nothing about rescue or breeding.
I still laugh at my confidence aka arrogance.
I changed the focus of my blog from littermates to raw feeding after a reader asked me to write more about what I was feeding my dogs. Today, I'm transitioning again to wellness because raising healthy dogs is more than just diet.
Over the years as a pet blogger, I spent a great deal of time being arrogant and constantly seeking popularity, validation, and money. Eventually, I took a step back and started asking questions instead of making assumptions and that shift changed everything for me and my blogging. Today, I'm here to learn how to raise healthy dogs and I'm sharing what I'm learning through the amazing platform of blogging and vlogging.
How many dogs and cats are you raising?
We have five dogs and one cat.
- Rodrigo and Sydney are nearly 10 years old and a Border Collie mix
- Scout and Zoey are is 6 years old and a Blue Heeler mix
- Apollo is nearly 1 year old and a Siberian Husky / Golden Retriever mix
- Cosmo is our 13-year-old, long hair, red tabby
We met Rodrigo at a rescue event that we attended “just to ask questions, not to adopt a puppy.” Within 15 minutes of arriving (or at least it seem like that), we were writing a check for Rodrigo's adoption fee. Why Rodrigo? Because of the movie City Slickers – yeah, random. I always loved the idea of having a black and white pet cow and I said that I'd name my cow Rodrigo. Rigo was a black and white puppy, so it was a no brainer.
A few days later, I convinced my boyfriend that we should adopt two puppies so that Rodrigo would have a playmate. It didn't occur to me that he may not want a playmate, that they may not get along, or that it may be more work than I realized. Nope. I thought that we'd get through the puppy stage faster and then have two great adult dogs.
Yeah, that was just naive on my part. Raising littermates is hard.
After we lost our beloved Blue, Johan found Scout and Zoey through a Craigslist ad – excuse me while I cringe, again – and it was love at first sight. I chose the names Scout and Zoey because they sounded great together. It took a few weeks for us to realize why they sounded great together – there is a dog treat/food company named Scout and Zoe's. Apollo joined us when a family member asked us to take him in temporarily (we believe that it's permanent).
What do you feed your pet and why? Raw, homecooked…?
I feed my dogs a raw food diet. I transitioned to raw in April 2013 after battling with Rodrigo's allergies, joint issues, and digestive issues for more than two years. Within two weeks of feeding a hybrid diet (raw in the morning and kibble in the evening) most of Rodrigo's health issues were gone.
I follow a modified BARF model raw food diet which includes 80% muscle meat, 10% bone, 10% organ meat, vegetables (or a base mix), fermented foods, sardines, and supplements specific to each of my dogs' needs.
I started with premade raw through Darwin's Natural Pet Products, a local raw food company. Today, I feed primarily DIY raw because we have five dogs and feeding commercial raw is too expensive. Making my dogs' food is a lot easier than I realized and I'm glad that I made the switch. I joined a local raw food co-op called Wazzuor (serves Washington and Oregon) nearly a year after I switched my dogs to raw and it was a huge difference in food, my budget, and options. I buy 99% of everything for my dogs and cat through the co-op now.
What's something you learned or changed about your pet's diet this year?
There were three things that changed how I feed my dogs and cat.
1 – I got fed up with over-analyzing my dogs' raw diet and began to question what balance means. This year, I returned to Balance Over Time, which basically means that I balance my dogs' diet through 80/10/10 and variety.
2 – Cosmo, our cat, wouldn't consistently eat a fully raw diet no matter how many times I tried. So I decided to feed 99.0% wet food and mix 2 tablespoons of raw into at least one meal daily. He's doing well with this diet.
3 – Rodrigo was diagnosed with EPI and now takes a pancreas enzyme supplement daily. He's doing very well and outside of the supplement, I haven't had to change his raw diet much.
Ultimately, I try to continue educating myself about animal nutrition while not taking it all so seriously. I'm thankful that I have a great veterinarian team that support my choices with my dogs, they've become a fantastic resource for when I have questions. And, of course, I have the best friends on the planet and they help me tremendously when I have questions.
What's an easy recipe you often feed to your pet?
I used to post recipes every Friday because all of my recipes are easy. I want to return to this schedule in 2020. The fasted meal to whip together is what I prepped today because I'm feeding rabbit, which contains meat, bones, and organ meat:
- 20 lbs of ground rabbit
- 3 cups of Dr. Harvey's Raw Vibrance
- 4 lbs of cubed grass-fed beef (optional)
The beef was in the freezer and I thawed it by mistake, so I added it to today's meal prep.
I order raw in bulk and do meal prep for 4-7 days each weekend. It's less expensive to shop in bulk and feeding our dogs is easier when everything is prepped ahead of time.
What's the hardest part of making food for your pet?
Finding the patience to filter through all of the information and opinions out there about raw feeding while having the confidence to go my own path because I think it's best for my dogs.
The raw feeding community is an opinionated and passionate community. But we're no different than any other passionate group. Everything I've learned has been thanks to this community, however, when I first joined, I was so overwhelmed that I eventually found myself throwing everything plus the kitchen sink at my dogs. It took some time for me to be able to consider new information and accept what works for me and my dogs and file away things that don't work.
The best advice that I've received from others include:
- Feed the dog in front of you.
- Balance over time.
- Listen to your dog.
I've found that my dogs will often tell me what they need or don't need. Scout, for example, won't eat chicken. I thought he was being a picky eater and spoon-fed him, he had diarrhea for the rest of the day. So, no chicken for him (or my other dogs).
What's the hardest part of content creation?
Finding the time to see everything through. Content creation, for me, isn't just about writing blog posts. I do research (on the topic and keywords), I reach out to professionals, I create images, I test out products, and I write and write and write. After I hit publish, I had to create the social media campaign, schedule posts, make sure my post will rank well, and more.
It's a tremendous amount of work. But I love it and I love my dogs; that's what keeps me going. When people act as if all I do is write blog posts and nothing more, it's aggravating because blogging is hard work and I don't think most people can manage this over an extended period of time.
What's your favorite “cooking” tool/appliance?
My favorite appliance is the meat grinder because I've had it for several years and it hasn't let me down. With my first meat grinder, I would spend 8-10 hours grinding food because it kept getting jammed and would constantly need to be taken apart.
I can grind hundreds of pounds of meat in a couple of hours. I can grind 40 pounds of duck necks in less than 30 minutes. Nothing is too much for my meat grinder.
By the way, I have a Cabela's 3/4 HP Carnivore meat grinder.
What's a movie or TV Series that you watch on repeat? What do you love about it?
I have a few:
Vampire Diaries because I love the people of Mystic Falls. I only watch through Season Four because that's around when they lost me when it was on television. The whole Hunter/Silas storyline was too much and eventually, I could no longer ignore the fact that these kids had no parents, no bills, but lived in great homes, and they rarely went to school.
Marvel/Star Wars/Star Trek movies because these are the universes of my childhood. I read Marvel comics, I remember seeing each Star Wars movie, and I loved Star Trek as a kid. I love the idea of superpowers, being a kick-ass fighter, and these are the only genres growing up that truly showed diversity and as a little black kid in Portland that attended Catholic (aka white) school during the day and lived in an Urban (aka black) neighborhood – seeing diverse people interact was thrilling although I doubt that I noticed this back then.
Tudors/The White Queen because I love this era in history. The politics of court astound me; I couldn't imagine living in a time when I lived at the pleasure of the king. If Tudors is to be believed, how did Sir Thomas Mor maintain his stance in the face of death? What I also love about this time period was the role of women. We have allowed history to demonize historical figures such as Anne Boleyn and Marie Antoinette, something that has been consistent throughout time starting with Lilith, Adam's first wife who refused to take a back seat to his maleness, and Mary Magdalene, who has historically been painted as a whore and now people wonder if she was actually an Apostle.
Scandal because Olivia Pope is my hero. A black woman who wields so much power in DC that she eventually becomes Command (spoiler alert!)? Yeah! Sign me up!!! A black woman having a fair with a white man who is also the most powerful man on the planet, but second to her! It was WRONG and I loved every moment. I love that they painted his wife, the First Lady, like a shrew and it wasn't until two or three seasons in that we learn about the sacrifices she made to get her husband in the White House. Diversity, powerful female roles, and a strut that, try as I might, I can only emulate after a solid shopping trip.
What pet or blogging related question/advice do you have for others?
A lot of people ask me about how to start blogging and my best advice is to just start. You can start with a Facebook page, with a free blogging platform, or by keeping a digital journal. Just get started.
Many people think they have to have some type of degree, certification, or notoriety to blog about their pets. No! You're an “expert” because you have pets and you bring a unique voice to the community because you're unique as are your pets.
I learned about raw feeding during a random conversation with friends at dinner. Neither of them is big on social media, has a blog, or works in the pet industry. They had a dog that wasn't doing well no matter what food they fed, so they decided to just feed him chicken and figured feeding raw made sense because dogs can't cook. And it worked.
I was skeptical but curious and that started me on the journey to learning about raw.
Anyone can make a difference simply by sharing their journey. You don't need a blog, you don't need to do videos, you don't need to go back to school. You can just share what you're feeding your pet's on your favorite social media platform and go from there. Don't worry if you don't get tons of likes and shares – the biggest mistake I see people making is focusing on being popular. Keep your focus on sharing and you'll do fine. People who make everything about themselves eventually fade away because, in this community, we love dogs and cats more than people.
Now, It's Your Turn! Join the Blog Hop!!!
I'd love to meet more raw feeders/home-cookers, so please join the Blog Hop! It doesn't matter if you're a blogger, vlogger, a social media influencer, or simply a raw feeder with a Facebook account – anyone can participate.
For Bloggers…write and publish a blog post during the first week of 2020.
For Vloggers…record a video answering the questions.
For Social Media Folks / Facebookers…write and publish a post on social media. With Facebook, you can choose the “Notes” feature if you need more space.
Please link/tag Keep the Tail Wagging in your post. When you're finished, return here to add the link to your post to the Link List (COMING SOON) below so others can find you. Adding yourself to the Link List isn't required.
The only requirement is that you must be feeding a raw food diet, a home-cooked diet, or a combination of the two. This is an event to network within the Fresh Food community.
Read More About Raw Feeding
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- 2020 Raw Feeding Open House #BlogHop
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- IT’S A RAW FEEDING CHRISTMAS GIVEAWAY, Y’ALL!!!