Tail Blazers – Why did we feel the need to create a Health Food Store for Pets? Part 2 of 3

Part 1 focuses on Tail Blazers’ product research and screening processes…Read it here

Why did we feel the need to create a “Health Food Store for Pets”?

We opened our first store in Inglewood, Calgary in Nov of 2000. Our background was in the human health food industry and being animal lovers, opening up a health food store for dogs and cats was an extremely natural extension/passion for us. This was an extremely new concept at that time.

But why a store completely dedicated to pet health?

The overwhelming majority of commercial food options available for pets before 2000, were incredibly undesirable. It’s my opinion that the commercial pet food industry was banking on us staying uneducated and uninformed about this, as it was/is advantageous to them to continue to provide a use or place for human food waste and extremely substandard, toxic, harmful ingredients. There has been a very deep and strong belief system “out there”, since commercial foods have been created, that real, true, species appropriate nutrition was of no value, need or concern for pets, that their vast nutritional needs did not matter. Their nutritional needs were looked at like they were garbage cans that could eat anything. This certainly still exists today. The great new is…

This awareness started to change with dry foods like Wysong and Solid Gold and raw foods like Amore’ and Mountain Dog. When we opened in 2000, Wysong and Solid Gold were the only two (that I am aware of) natural dry foods on the market. Innova came on the scene very soon after…then things really began to  snowball in this direction, and in a hurry! Now there were positive choices available to the consumer. Now the customer was free to decide what was of value to them and their pets.

Raw foods had just started to come on the scene in 2000 (a few people were selling it out of their garages). We were the first store in Calgary at that time to stock raw food. It had a lot of unknowns then, and was taboo. Much gratitude to Australian Veterinarian, Ian Billinghurst for getting raw food to enter our consciousness! His books “Give your Dog a Bone” and “Grow Your Pups with Bones”, were revolutionary here in North America. This completely transformed the previous way that we viewed the nutritional needs of pets. In less than 2 decades, raw food diets for dogs and cats have gone from un-heard of/very strange and taboo, to normal and natural, and now mainstream. Wow!

I feel like the true health of dogs and cats, is coming back in the power of passionate and knowledgeable pet owners, where it should be. It feels rewarding to be a “Trail Blazer” in this regard, to have played a small part of shedding some light on this shift in awareness that has (and continues to) take place. There is always more “work” to do, more places to bring awareness to. I still cannot walk down the pet food isle of a grocery store, it makes me cringe knowing how unhealthy some of these foods are – yet they still have a large presence on store shelves. But on a daily basis we get to be a passionate and steady voice for pets, for pets that do not have a direct say in what their guardians put in their bowls and how deeply this single decision affects their long-term health, vitality, energy and wellbeing!

by Tamara Low
Co-founder of Tail Blazers