Let’s start back at the beginning with my first dog, my best friend, my teacher. Skye was her name and her picture can be found everywhere. She’s gone but never forgotten. I can still smell her, I can feel her touch. I can hear her feet dancing. She is wherever I go, always by my side.
I’m Stef and without Skye there’s definitely no Stefs Pet Pantry. It’s funny how life can take you on a journey and the lessons you’re meant to learn are already written for you. Well let me tell you she was my biggest teacher. Along this journey I’ve met many other great teachers too. We are blessed to live in a time where pet parents want to learn more so they can do more.
Let’s go back to when she arrived. I’d just turned 11. I can’t tell you all the things I did to prove to my parents that I was ready for the responsibility. She was my one in a million. I know everyone is special, but she was extra special. Throughout her life she made an impression wherever she went. The village I grew up in will still ask about her. She really did touch many.
She was a working dog who loved being out in the field. She came from a home of many champions and well-known lines. It was in her blood and she loved to be out in the field working with me. When we weren’t working, I would spend all my time with her. We went everywhere together.
Skye, like most, spent the first 9 years of her life being fed kibble. She wasn’t a greedy Labrador and was even known to refuse food from strangers. She would starve herself despite professionals telling me she would eat when she was hungry. This was never the case. We ended up switching foods every 2-3 days. If she ate something for 7 days, we were lucky. She was clinically underweight on every record.
A working life was hard going. Food should be fuel, it should ignite life. It should feed the mind, the body and the soul. I thought I was doing the best I could. We bought everything over the years from ‘the best’ to the not so great just in the hope that she would eat.
Instead she grew old before her time, in extreme pain with spondylitis of the spine, total muscle wastage in her back end and crippled with arthritis. She was 9! What age is 9? We’re now told our dogs are seniors from the age of 7. That’s crazy. I’ve continued to see the average life expectancy dropping. Yet with the knowledge we have, why is this the case? With all these tailor made diets, it just doesn’t make any sense.
9 wasn’t any age, life was cruel and decisions had to be made. Any vet would have agreed enough was enough. Something that night made me search for a miracle, her miracle. Even though it can be super helpful, there is a lot of garbage on the internet. Make sure your sources are authentic; some are written by those who have more to lose than they have to gain.
Suddenly the searches were filled with raw feeding. I spent all night reading. Firstly I read all the horror stories and the nightmares but then I discovered all the miracles. Miracle after miracle. My heart was saying I have nothing to lose. I announced to my parents that I was going to try it. Horror struck my mum and dad, and I must say, especially my dad. The answer was “no, are you out of your mind? You are going to kill her”. If you are ever in the shop, ask them and they will tell you their shock.
Firstly there’s a couple of things you need to know about me – I’m as stubborn as a old mule and never stand in the way of me and my dogs. Someone will get hurt. I’m a Libra and Libra’s have a fixation on balance.
I’d weighed up my possibilities and I knew I had no idea what I was doing. I knew there was a chance I could kill her but I’d run out of options and was desperate. The stories had such power and they spoke to me.
I didn’t have a clue what I was doing and at the time I could only find Natures Menu. I followed their guide and began to make her first meal. That first meal she danced. This girl hadn’t been able to get up without help. She could barely stand and didn’t move around, yet she was dancing. She danced for every meal after that too.
She’d finished the bowl quicker than I could finish this sentence. I’d never seen anything like it. I finally got it – she’d been teaching me the entire time, I just hadn’t been listening to the lesson. Within days there were improvements. Within weeks we saw muscle repair. Within years I had turned back time for her.
Fresh food is powerful, I just didn’t have any idea how powerful. The best near 7 years of her life were the last 7. She was like a puppy again. I can’t tell you how I felt, words don’t describe it. What I do know now though is that this is my mission. She created this when I was 11 years old but it took me to my late teens to hear her clearly.
I then created Stefs in my late 20’s. We did have a little shop from quite early on which just served friends and family to start with. It just grew and grew. And before you knew it, I wanted to help more and more.
My family and I have fed all our dogs raw ever since, and with us averaging 12 dogs at any one time, they all became teachers. I met incredible people along the way. I’m always learning and expanding my knowledge to report back to you.
Life is so very short and each meal counts. I’ve learnt that adding fresh food to any bowl vastly improves it, but I dare you to dream bigger. Imagine a bowl full of fresh food.
I will stand by anyone who wants to learn more. My door is always open. Come in and become part of the family. This is me, and I am grateful for my shining star.
To bring you up to speed, I lost Skye a month before she was 16. She definitely defied all odds. She needed me as much as I needed her.