Unleashed, Inc. is a wholistic pet food store inspired by the love of a dog. Share in this heartwarming story from two people who cared deeply about their dog and wanted to inspire others to improve the lives of dogs as well.
For the Love of Dog
In celebration of the heart month February, I thought I’d share the memory of our dear Kleine, who is now resting in mine.
We all remember each of the pets we’ve had over the years. They, of course, all hold a very special place in our homes and hearts. This story is about Kleine, who was with us for over 15 years. She came to us in 2001 and left in 2017.
Love at First Sight
We first met her at the Millarville farmers market just southwest of Calgary. We had gone for some Taber corn and other market finds. She was first noticed by our brother-in-law and then us. As part of a litter being offered up by a local farmer or rancher, she was in a pen just outside the market entrance amongst a bunch of brothers. Most of her siblings were lighter in colour than her, as they took on more of the St. Bernard than the Shepherd she was a mix of. A stuffed Gund bear came to mind as we laid eyes on this glorious little creature. We weren’t looking for a dog and didn’t think we should add to our family as our current dog Tuxedo was getting older. Our brother-in-law had different thoughts and insisted he’d stay with her while we wandered the market and mulled it over. I know we had already decided, but just hadn’t said it out loud yet! So while she was being attended to, just in case some other people thought the same about her, we started falling in love. We didn’t have enough cash with us so I think my sister lent us the balance or wrote a cheque and we drove home with this bundle. Not Taber corn, but a new family member.
Growing our Family
As we assumed would be the case, she was immediately accepted by her new sister Tuxedo as part of the family. Tuxedo was in the twilight years of her life but mustered the energy and patience as only a dog can do, and played, romped, and napped with Kleine. We had just started our journey learning about canine nutrition and revelled at the health turn around our Tuxedo experienced, so we were very excited about taking this new knowledge and applying it to Kleine. And boy did we ever get to embrace feeding!
As a German Shepard-St. Bernard cross, she managed to consume a lot of food to fuel a frame that ended up being over 100lbs. We went from carrying her with us everywhere to not really being able to pick her up in a very short period of time. Her diet consisted of mostly home cooked meals during the first few years, with few meals later on of kibble that we began to source for our new store Unleashed. As our learning continued she was moved to a fully raw diet and remained there her whole life. The kibble side of our store followed this route as well. Our focus moved away from processed food and into real, whole raw species appropriate foods.
Love is Giving Your Dog a Natural Life
Kleine taught us that the lack of pharmaceutical drugs, lack of vaccinations, and lack of processed foods is the road to longevity with quality of life! Living double the average life span of a dog her size was not a miracle, but a calculated formula of wellness.
As a puppy, and as she grew into adulthood, it was such an enormous pleasure to go on long walks near our house in the off-leash areas. Every day I would come home from school to get her and head straight to the park. Down we’d go towards the river, she’d always be covering three or maybe four times the ground that I did with effortless leaps and bounds. I was always amazed at her agility and stamina.
The water was always a destination. She loved it no matter the time of year. In the summer as she left the river she would leave a swath of water two feet wide and 20 to 30 feet long as her glorious coat shed its load. In the winter her fur seemed to dry in moments as it repelled water and simply fell away as she travelled. From the park, we’d often follow the river's edge or just head up the pathways on our trip to Unleashed. This meant heading through the off-leash area where she loved the smells and social aspects of it. She wasn’t obsessed with other dogs but was always polite. As the park ended and as time allowed we would vary our route. Straight down the 14th street sidewalk if we were in a rush or meandering through South Calgary or Mt. Royal when we could.
Memories Made Together
Our favourite times were those tranquil winter days after or during a huge snowfall. As Kleine matured I would let her be off leash during those times as we would trudge through the fresh unbroken snow, often right down the middle of the quiet neighbourhood streets. These days will forever fill my heart and they flood back as I think of her, or when I see a photo.
As we cleared the neighbourhoods and came up to our store it was always with such pride to enter with Kleine as our mascot. She represented what our store was and why we created it. The ultimate in vitality and long life through a species appropriate diet. She didn’t have bad breath, flatulence, doggy smell, heavy shedding, hot spots, hip or joint issues, or plaque coated teeth. She had a glorious coat and skin, beautiful teeth throughout her life without any medical intervention or scaling. When first meeting Kleine many people were a bit cautious. She was BIG! But as they read her welcoming body language and got a chance to feel her glorious coat, people just seemed to move into her. And she welcomed them!
A Few of Her Favourite Things
I think Kleine had some favourite things too. Chewing on a meaty raw bone or devouring a turkey neck was a couple of them. Those were things she liked, but definitely, in later life, her favourite activity was to be out camping! She just seemed so content to be out in the fresh air all day long with her humans right beside her. As her mobility began to be less than when she was young she found camping was like her therapy. Short frequent sniffing strolls along with some of the best snoozes right on the gravel or in the bush amongst the tall grass and shrubs. As Kleine moved past her 15th birthday we noticed a sharp decline in her mobility, in particular weakness in her back end. She had difficulty getting up and sometimes getting down. We built her a ramp for her to access the backyard with more ease as she stopped attempting any stairs.
For a large dog, her age was even more impressive! Our pact had always been that if her quality of life was high we would celebrate it, and if it was low she would be laid to rest. My heart aches now revisiting the decision that it was time for her to rest. We said goodbye in our house, the only one she ever knew, on February 16, 2017. It was peaceful and she had us there in her living room. Her sister Stella was able to say goodbye too.
Thank you for reading a bit about how just one of our dogs has filled and broken our hearts. If you’ve shopped our whole pet food store in Calgary, Alberta and ever met Kleine, she will be waiting for your visit again someday!