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A little 101 December 20, 2009

A little 101

We didn’t really know what to do with ourselves the first day back from Rose Bowl Parade. Both Lyle and I kind of mopped around the room wondering what we should be doing. It was the worse "come-down" from a holiday/party/sugar-high I had ever experienced. Monday dragged on and all I could do was recount the amazing visions of events that occurred the week before.

I hoped we would be hired, but it wasn’t a sure thing. But, by Wednesday we had a call from Joey asking us to come in to discuss the future. I was thrilled, even though I didn’t know what to expect, I knew that I would kill for the chance to work for such an amazing company.

As it turned out Lyle and I were hired to skateboard and snowboard in special promotions and events with Tillman and the other dogs for a year. We were brand ambassadors or spokespeople, if you will. Our days would be spent training with Ron, who now rocked the title “World’s Greatest Bulldog Trainer”, and I was excited because Lyle still had some serious work to do.

We spent the first few weeks in the field with sales reps learning about the pet food business, specifically about Natural Balance Food. Natural Balance has been in business for 21 years and has managed to grow to enormous numbers, while still being privately held. But, because of this the food has maintained a great reputation of being a premium, high-quality food made with a limited ingredient diet of all naturals.

I spent the most time with Mandy, one of the best sales people I have seen in a while; she knew her food and pricing like a champ. She was responsible for all the independent stores (boutiques) in and around Los Angeles. Mandy, Lyle and I would go out in the field making morning visits to all the cutest stores in LA. Lyle was there for meet and greets, and the owners melted over him. Lyle is probably the most sociable of the bunch; he loves friends and people, and never seems to tire of being a butterfly.

We hit about 8 stores a day and by the fourth store Lyle and I were treated to a delicious lunch, where Lyle even got to order off of doggy menus. We were in dog heaven - getting paid to do what we loved – to meet new people, visit stores, and eat lunch at places that really appreciated Lyle.

I learned a lot about the food and how to read labels as well. I would consider myself a very conscious dog Mom when it comes to the nutrition of Lyle. Before I discovered Natural Balance food, I would buy the ridiculously expensive organic formulas that were in fact no more organic than the less expensive ones. I never read the label; really, I just based my choice off the packaging and the price. Somehow I got it in my mind that the more expensive the better. But, that is not the case, and I want to let you know how to properly read a label and what that label means.

Ok, step 1: look at the top 3 ingredients. If those don’t say the kind of protein source then don’t read any further. The first 3 ingredients are the most important, because they make up the majority of content in the food. When it comes to Natural Balance you will notice that those three ingredients are always protein, and carbohydrate sources.

Step 2: what those ingredients really mean. When your food says chicken meal for example, that doesn’t mean the food the chicken eats like corn meal or something, oh no. This is what is used in most pet food and is basically the dehydrated parts of a chicken. A factory will take the bones, skin, meat, really the parts that can’t be sold at a higher price (but, not bi-products in the case of Natural balance and every ingredient they use is tested for human consumption levels, BTW).

Another term I wasn’t sure of was “whole chicken”, or “whole wheat”…or the word “whole” on a dog food label for that matter. “Whole” means that the entire thing, whether it be a chicken or a piece of corn, just ground down…even the parts your dog can’t digest, like corn husks and shells. Another important note is that if corn anything is anywhere in the top 3 lines, think twice, because corn is like sugar and isn’t always great for your dog. But, most dog foods use corn products in the formula because certain parts of corn are good for your animal, and help give the food a great consistency. However, if there is too much corn anything, your dog will have to eat more to feel full, and that isn’t always the healthiest. But, the label can also say Chicken meal...sans the workd whole, and this means only the meat! Who know, I would have thought "whole" meant better...but it doesn't!

Step 3: Any words you can’t pronounce should be in the last few lines of the ingredient bag. And, if you are going super organic with little to no carb source, I suggest thinking twice and going to a more well-rounded product like Natural Balance. Those low carb high protein dog formulas are relatively new on the market, and because of that few long-term studies have been done to see how a low carb diet will affect dogs in the future. It’s kind of like feeding your child Adkins diet for life, you just don’t know what will happen, and your baby needs the good carbs too!

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