Dean and Tracey Ricard
In the world of BARF, Dean and Tracey Ricard of Tofield, Alta. are the king and queen of
Western Canadian dogdom.
BARFan acronym for biologically appropriate raw foodis an often-contentious school of
culinary thought in which dogs are fed fare such as a combination of chicken or turkey (bones included) ground
with a selection of fruit and vegetables that includes carrots, celery, yams, apples, bananas and romaine
lettuce. The product is flash-frozen and sold in that form to an ever-growing audience of pet-owners who
rebel against the over-processed quality of conventional dog kibble and canned foods.
Dog owners who look for a proverbial return to nature, have been reading about the move
to raw since 1993, when the Australian veterinarian Dr. Ian Billinghurst published Give Your Dog a Bone,
considered by many owners to be the bible of BARF.
The homeground approach is how the Ricards approached their Mountain Dog Food. On April
Fools Day 2000, after developing a diet to enhance the health of their Bernese mountain dogs, they hit the
market from home with a ground concoction of chicken, fruit and vegetables, frozen in 1- or 2-pound packages.
Later, they added turkey to the product line-up.
Rewriting conventional thought on dog nutrition is not an easy endeavour.
Many veterinarians counsel their clients not to go the raw route, as they claim it to be dangerous
from the viewpoint of unbalanced nutrition, and the possibility of salmonella.
On the positive side, however, is the research by some veterinarians, such as Billinghurst.
"Australia has long had a culture of feeding dogs a raw meat and bone-based diet. Commercial dog food arrived in
Australia in 1966," he explains. "The unhealthy dogs I encounter as a vet are the ones consuming a diet that is
cooked, based on grain, and almost entirely devoid of whole raw foods. These are the dogs that eat modern
grain-based commercial dog food. At the same time, I discovered that healthy dogs eat a wide variety of foods,
very few or no grain-based foods, and what they do eat is mostly raw."
For the Ricards, what proves to be the most difficult aspect of marketing is not the
palatability of the food or the dogs ability it digest it, but the owners change in thinking about canine
cuisinesomething Dean says is closely related to how dog food is marketed.
"Too many of the advertisers try to make dogs out to be humans and theyre not," Dean says.
"The first objective is to get the person to take a step back from all the advertising hype and the severe
objections and to look at the issue from a more pragmatic position. And then ask the questions: Would you
feed yourself highly processed food from a single source in a single format for your entire lifemeal-in-a-box,
if you like? And if you did, how do you think you would feel from a health perspective?"
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