July 25, 2014

Charger - A Rescue Story + I and Love and You

Thanks to my favorite new dog food brand I and Love and You for sponsoring this post about Charger's rescue story.  Charger and I are super excited #Furreal that I and Love and You high quality dog food is now available in Ralph's Grocery Stores.  You can grab an  I and Love and You coupon too. 

10 years ago if you asked me if dogs had a place in my life I would say yes...maybe?  I never grew up with a dog, though I tortured my parents with every other subpar pet to an actual dog to make up for the fact our house was woof-free.  Hamsters, gerbils, lizards, fish ugh.  In hindsight they probably should have just let my sisters and I have a dog and saved themselves a lot of trouble, cage cleaning and shoebox burials.  Not to mention the fact that any good dog owner knows these furry beings truly become a part of your family, your daily routine and a huge source of happiness.

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When I met Craig, he had a pitbull.  I lived in NYC, where the only pitbulls you saw were in not-so-nice neighborhoods with spiked collars and cropped ears.  Designed to look scary and possibly only less scary than their owners.  What I quickly received was a re-education in the whole don't judge a book by its cover lesson.  Kalvin, his 8 year old dog was the doofiest, cuddliest most loving and needy 60 pounds of fur you could imagine.  Instead of looking like a scary junkyard dog he basically suffered from a permanent case of Hallmark-esque sad puppy eyes.  

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Kalvin had developed epilepsy not too long before I met Craig and it was pretty severe.  Craig tried everything to get it under control, including not only human grade medications but changes to his diet.  He himself had never really thought too much about what you feed a dog and if it matters.  Much like how many Americans are just waking up to the food revolution and realizing that when you read a food label you should be worrying more about the ingredients than just the numbers listed.  And of course that the best foods don't have labels at all.  Kalvin did a raw diet for quite some time, but man it was kind of a pain in the butt.

Most of us were raised to go to the pet store or grocery store and grab a bag of a highly recognized name brand food without questioning what's inside.  But much like how we're realizing that "big food" often doesn't have our best interests in mind, the same applies to big (dog) food.  More on that in a bit.

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Fast forward a bunch of years and Kalvin at almost 13 finally couldn't hang in there anymore.  It was a day I feared for a long time, knowing that before I was ever in the picture he and Craig had that single guy bond.  Kalvin had been his first baby, first real responsibility in life and he had loved that dog in a way I wondered if I was capable of loving anything not technically human.  

Being the work at home member of our family I began to feel the emptiness of our house during the day in the months after Kalvin passed away.  On one hand, taking a break from caring for a dog that might have a seizure at any time amongst other medical problems was a welcomed reprieve.  On the other I never realized how much I could miss having a furry buddy to take a walk with or just take a short break from work with when feeling super stressed.  

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Just a few months later, friends of ours called to tell us they had seen the perfect dog and weren't sure if we were ready for another dog but couldn't pass up telling us about him.  Charger was found roaming the streets and eating garbage on Christmas Eve by a firefighter with a big heart and two pitbulls of his own at home.  He called him and Charger, ever the friendly and social dude jumped right in his truck.   His incredibly sweet and understanding wife who knew that a trip to the local shelter would almost certainly be a death sentence to this dog agreed to foster him, clean him up and help him find a forever home.  

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I feel super lucky that our home is that forever home.  Charger quickly became a part of our family.  He went from being absolutely terrified of water to a champion swimmer and total pool hog.  He's one of the only dogs I've ever seen that smiles...a lot.  Like a full on big grin.  He's been more than patient with Kayla who has committed several offenses that any dog would have the right to react to (like poking him in the eye and making him wear tutus) he has done nothing but yelp and let it happen. Oh, and he's totally become my guy.  The mama's boy.  Waiting at the foot of the bed for me every morning.

When we brought Charger home, he was eating a food that wasn't grain free.  Knowing from our past experience with Kalvin that you really want your dog to eat a grain free food since things like wheat are such huge allergens for dogs we were a little surprised.  We'd been told that he didn't have such a big appetite and wasn't particularly food motivated.  Odd for a dog if you ask me...right? 

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I have a feeling Charger had a grain allergy because we bought the food he had been eating as well as a bag of high quality grain free food to introduce and see how he reacted.  Naturally, as soon as we made the transition to the other food he turned into a new VERY food motivated dog.  We think he hadn't eaten very much because his old food wasn't agreeing with him.  Not that I'd wish for a dog who parks himself in this position to try to get a bird's eye view of the kitchen table, but I'll take it over one who isn't eating.

These days I consider myself on the more educated end of pet nutrition, though I still have plenty to learn.  Charger has been doing great with grain free kibble.  About a month ago I was introduced to I and Love and You.  It's a super high end brand that puts value in the ingredients your pet eats versus major marketing dollars into big shiny ads to make you think you're getting the best product.  This aligns with my beliefs entirely.  

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In this Poultry Palooza, the first ingredient is Turkey.  Not some kind of grain and not something I can't pronounce.  They use wild caught, free range and cage free meats.  There are real fruits and vegetables instead of a bunch of synthetic ingredients.  Basically, I'm a fan because it's a good way to give your furry bestie the very best.  We've switched Charger and his buddy Stella to I and Love and You.  

Beyond it being a great food, I'm super excited that the brand is taking steps to put their products in stores where most of us shop as well.  With our previous brand we could only get it at a pet boutique that never seemed to be open when we were running out.  I and Love and You is now available in Ralph's grocery stores which is where Craig grabs our fill in grocery shop each week after hitting up the gym.

Want to try I and Love and You?  You can grab an I and Love and You coupon and head to Ralph's in SoCal, Unleashed, Whole Foods or Sprouts to upgrade your pet's food.  You can also find freakishly cute photos of some furry friends and helpful tips on their Facebook page, though as you know, I always prefer Instagram


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