The first few weeks were tricky, while I had had family dogs in the past (both Westies!) I had never owned a Collie. My partner had; he had grown up with them as a kid. The only problem being that when your young, your childhood furry best friend can do no wrong. You remember that they (we miss you Jack!) were the BEST dog ever; they never chewed anything, they never dug, they never ate things they shouldn't and they would spin on a sixpence to heel if you so much as coughed in their direction... Yeah right. (He actually had a wonderful habit of herding lorries, but y'know...we won't mention that.)
I'm not afraid to say that there were definitely tears that first month. Not having kids, he was the biggest responsibility in my life. Literally, less than 72 hours in, we were at the vets, after Winston had decided that he wanted to help turn over the flower beds and found a lovely daffodil bulb as an afternoon snack. Those of you that aren't aware, most bulbs are extremely poisonous to dogs - I google'd it and completely freaked out.
Unfortunately (and fortunately!) Winston is extremely car sick so didn't quite make it to the vets without emptying his tummy on the way. So by the time we got to the vets and they said we need to make him sick, I confessed that he had already done so. (three times...) They gave us some charcoal to add to his dinner and reassured us that he would be fine. Fortunately, he has lost his appetite for al fresco dining.
The vet also highlighted to us that he wasn't in great condition - I was mortified by this. how had I not noticed? I mean, he was seriously skinny which we were addressing, but I hadn't noticed anything else. They recommended changing his diet (to another commercial brand) and seeing him again in 6 months.
As soon as I got home I began researching - could it be allergies? could it be a wheat intolerance? could it be this or that. I had zero idea about the complexities of dog nutrition and it became my mission to understand.
As a complete novice www.allaboutdogfood.co.uk was a bible. Rating foods by country, ingredients and quality, it became the holy grail of information on which to base my research.
A documentary called Pet Fooled also highlighted the horrors of the commercial pet industry, the poor and misleading nature of packaging, and the damaging effects that commercially produced food had on our pets really opened my eyes. Its currently showing on Netflix and I encourage you to take. a peek.
Aside from the marketing spiel, it poses an extremely interesting argument for the cost of high quality food vs veterinary care for your pet from illnesses caused by poor diet. Food for thought indeed.
Watch Pet Fooled on Netflix
From these two sources, along with countless others, I came to a conclusion. The best diet for dogs is raw food. They benefit from clean ingredients that are free from sugar, preservatives and a variety of other chemicals. It is also highly biologically appropriate.
Now while I feel that this may be the best diet for dogs, I also acknowledge that this is not always feasible. Winston is not raw fed for a variety of reasons - one being on the few attempts we had at trying to raw feed him, we ended up with beef lips and duck necks being thrown around the house and trust me - you really don't want these on your carpets! He does still get the odd beef rib bone (always raw, never cooked!) which is great for cleaning his teeth.
So we compromised - Winston's current diet consists of a mixture of 100% natural wet food (Forthglade), and 80/20 kibble. (Akela) Both made in the UK - both with science behind them to try and preserve as many of the nutrients as possible.
His skin is amazing, his coat glossy. His gut - MUCH better. The only downside? He has lots more energy too! And lets be honest - we all know you don't need to turbo charge a collie.
All of this research left me with a whole host of brands that I just wanted to shout about. Amazing independent brands that cared deeply about the quality, traceability and nutrition behind their products. It really excited me to find people that shared my own values and beliefs when it came to providing the best for your pets.
That’s why I created Collar Club. A subscription box for dogs containing only natural treats and safe, non toxic toys.
Our dogs deserve the best. At the end of the day they can't (and won't) protest to the food they are given. We make the choices for them and I believe that we owe it to them to make considerate choices. Every dog deserves food and treats that not only taste great, but make them feel good too.