This is dog food?

Uno; he stole my heart.  He was so interested in the camera that he kept running straight at me.

Most of us grew up thinking that kibble is what you feed dogs.  Although I clearly remember peeling the string off of a package of Gaines burgers, and like the marketing ploy indicated it was beefy looking.  But was there any beef or anything else in this food that was nutritious for our dogs?   We bounced between canned food and the meaty looking burgers of Gaines for our little toy poodle.  When I think back now I shudder; but it was the line we were all fed; dogs eat dog food.  The idea has stood the test of time; although the quality is being challenged now and thankfully some new companies are stepping up to fill that kibble with real ingredients; ingredients that our dogs can actually use.

Sassy; what a wonderful girl and amazing athlete.

But not everyone grew up feeding "dog food" to their dogs.  This past spring I had the privilege of meeting Olga Esman of located just outside of Ottawa.   We met through my Facebook group The Standard Poodle and set up a photo shoot when I made a trip back home to Canada.  While I was shooting her gorgeous dog we were chatting when the topic of food came up.  She mentioned remembering the first time she saw "kibble" and how she was shocked that this is what was fed to our dogs.  I thought it would be interesting to delve in a little deeper so we did an e-interview which follows.

Sherri:            Olga, where are you originally from and what did you feed your dogs while living there?

Olga Esman:   I am from Belarus, one of the former USSR republics.  We had a German Shepherd named "Bark" when I was growing up. My Mom cooked for him; oatmeal, buckwheat, and added lots of cooked meat (chicken, beef, chicken gizzards, liver).  We had an constant supply of big cooked beef bones from the kitchen of a local kindergarten - it gave us lots of meat for our Bark. He was very happy healthy active dog.  He also enjoyed cooked fish, big raw bones, blood sausages, some veggies, and pieces of dry bread as treats.
Sherri:            When did you first learn about kibble?

Olga Esman:   My first encounter with kibble was in Canada. 

Sherri:            What was your first opinion of processed dog food or kibble?

Olga Esman:   I was shown a big bag stored under the counter, and told that was a food for the dog.  It was a big shock for me - giving something dry and smelly to a dog????  Feeding a dog highly processed substance with questionable complex list of ingredients did not feel good at all.

Sherri:            What do you feed your dogs now and why?

Olga Esman:   The major part of my Poodles diet is raw meat (chicken backs, necks, gizzards, beef meat, beef hearts, tongues, beef bones, lamb bones), They also eat eggs (Sassy loves raw eggs, Uno - cooked), ricotta cheese and yogurt. They also love their cooked meals - thick soup made with old fashion rolled oats with meat, sweet potatoes, some herbs and garlic. They love cooked fish too.  I like to know what exactly goes into my dogs system. I do not even use prepared raw food mixes available at pet stores.  The meat I feed my family (humans and Poodles) comes from local farms, hormone and pesticides free.

Sherri:             What is your opinion on kibble now?

Olga Esman:   The strong "natural" trend in the kibble industry is very pleasing. 

Sherri:             Olga, have you ever tried your guys on kibble of any sort?

Olga Esman:    Yes. Uno was fed kibble until he was 9 months old. It was the Royal Canine. Uno was doing good on it, very healthy, good looking boy, but I was never content with feeding him kibble. The big poisoned kibble scare was a last drop for me.  I switched him to raw feeding "cold turkey" way :) He did great right away.
Some dogs will go through a period of diarrhea while switching from kibble to raw - this is a normal process of detoxification.

Sassy was fed Purina brand kibble before coming to our family. I switched her to raw at 11 weeks of age. It did not go well :( She has diarrhea, and was loosing weight. I put her back on high quality kibble and home cooked food, and did another switch when she was about 8 months old.  She did great the second time around.

Thank you Olga for taking time out of your very busy schedule to give us a look from a different perspective.