Spring 2007 Newsletter
The "Raw Deal"
- a look at raw feeding
By CCO Contributing Editor: Michelle Harrington
This article is based on interviews with the following Canaan owners who feed their Canaans a raw diet. Dionna and Robert Begg (Ontario); Cathey Dunn (Colorado); Jill Hillman (Indiana); Renee and Evan Kent (Rhode Island), Christina Miller (Australia); Larry Myers and Michelle Harrington (Ontario); Wendy and Victor Sanchez (Minnesota)

Feeding a raw diet is hardly a new concept. Well before the recent pet food recalls, there have been owners who feed their canines an alternative to commercial food products.
Cathey Dunn has been feeding her dogs a raw diet for over 16 years. Although the raw diet is much more visible these days in terms of discussion, it is still viewed, for the most part, as controversial with much debate centred on the different �approaches�.

Why �Go Raw�

For some Canaan owners their decision to go raw is encouraged by the breeder of their new puppy while others are motivated by articles or books they have read.
Renee and Evan Kent were in search of � a food that agreed with all of the dogs that allowed them to maintain a healthy weight, clean teeth, and normal stool.� At that time the Kents had a dog who always had gas, greenish smelly stools, and looked thin no matter how much they fed him. In January 2001, the Kents switched to a raw diet and never looked back. Wendy and Victor Sanchez feel fortunate that they have obtained their dogs from breeders who also feed raw, �all of our dogs have been raw feed since birth.� Michelle and Larry�s Maccabee was on kibble for a year. Their decision to investigate an alternative to commercial pet food was borne from the fact of wanting his environment as natural as possible.  �We had moved away from vaccinations and felt a raw diet was the next step.� 

Illness has also inspired other owners to explore alternative diets for their dogs.
Dionna and Robert Begg resisted the raw diet for a long while because they were afraid it was too complex.  Then when �Tiffy� suffered from an autoimmune disease when she was about 2 � years of age, they decided to research an alternative to her diet and have been feeding her raw ever since. Chris Miller�s �Spock� was the catalyst that drew her to a natural diet:

�Spock was diagnosed with Lymphosarcoma early in his life.  I wasn�t going to go the chemo therapy route, as Lymphosarcoma had a very high reoccurrence rate after treatment.  I couldn�t change the diagnosis, but I could change the way I looked at a lot of my animal husbandry. This was the point that I completely changed the dogs� diet to a raw meat based diet.  I also became more firm on my stand of limited vaccinations for puppies and basically no vaccinations for adult dogs � only titer testing.�

Where does One Start?

Jill Hillman was inspired by her breeders Wendy and Victor Sanchez of MidSummer�s Canaan Dogs. Jill owns two Canaans, �Raizel� and �Shani� who thrive on a raw diet, which includes �BARF Burgers!� Working together with friends who are interested in exploring different lifestyle choices for their canines can also be very beneficial. Cathey and a group of her friends compared research and diets and purchased food together in larger quantities to reduce the cost. She like others also found inspiration in reading books, articles, and attending seminars by raw food practitioners. To further increase their knowledge, Wendy and Victor subscribed to different raw feeding groups: �As soon as we felt comfortable with the ins and outs, we began to make our own modifications.�

Different philosophies - Where do we go from here?

Some people follow the �BARF� diet by Billinghurst or other raw practitioners, like Volhard, Pitcairin, or Schultze. Not unlike humans, dogs are individuals and sensitive to certain foods.  Most of the Canaan owners interviewed have followed a particular practitioner from the onset but overtime have modified the diet according to how their dogs adapt. Chris had started with the Vollhard diet, which later she modified into what worked best for her and her dogs. She prefers �a 70% meat to 30% bone ratio, but that doesn�t happen at every meal.� She also tries to implement offal at least 4 times a week into their diet, and likes to keep the meat sources as varied as possible.

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"Vala" Photo courtesy of Chris Miller
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