The saying that dogs are a man’s best friend can be especially true for Army households dealing with the instability of military life – a fact confirmed by former Servicewoman Suzanne Brock, who has carved out a career on civvy street ensuring Forces families can keep their four-legged companions healthy…
HAVING worn the uniform, Suzanne Brock can attest to there being plenty of substance to the stereotypes surrounding Service life and man’s best friend.
As an officer in the Adjutant General’s Corps during the 1990s, she shared office space with countless colleagues’ chocolate brown Labradors and grew accustomed to the sight of gun dogs bedding down beneath desks.
And on swapping her military career for motherhood, first as an Army wife and later as a single parent, she can also vouch for the positives pet ownership can provide to those following the flag.
“I think pets are vital for Service families,” Suzanne told Army&You. “If you have a dog you have stability and if you have a dog you have that person at home for you.
“When my husband left, my Labrador started sleeping upstairs because I think he subliminally knew the children and I were a bit scared. He made me feel safe; he was the man of the house.
“Having a dog can make things an awful lot better for military families – they can fill a gap you didn’t realise you had, be your rock and the person you talk to at the end of the day if your partner is away.”
Such is Suzanne’s devotion to dogs that she shunned a second career in the city in favour of setting up a company to cater for canines.
Opening its doors for business five years ago, Nutriment (nutriment.co) is now among the top dogs of the raw pet food manufacturing industry, creating in excess of 250 tonnes of products per month and turning over around £7million a year.
While identifying a gap in the market and finessing fresh flavours have been key ingredients in her company’s rapid growth, Suzanne insists the secret of Nutriment’s success can be credited to customers caring as passionately about their four-legged friends as she does.
“In the same way they do for themselves and their families, people are now reading the backs of packets of pet food,” she explained. “They know what dodgy ingredients look like and are more and more aware of what they are putting into their best friend.
“It is the old truism that you can feed your children fast food every day and it’s not going to kill them, but they will not be the healthiest they can be. It is exactly the same for a dog. You can get protein from a box of hair but it doesn’t do the animal any good.
“You need to look for quality protein from natural ingredients that have been messed about with as little as possible.”
Suzanne’s transition from the military to civvy street may have been unconventional, but she has not forgotten her Army pedigree. From its first day of operation, Nutriment has provided a 20 per cent military discount for Service households seeking a healthy diet for their dogs and its owner credits her time in command with giving her the confidence to excel as an entrepreneur.
“I channel it often,” Suzanne concluded. “Particularly, the ability to stand up in front of people and say ‘follow me, it’s going to be fine’ when inside you are panicking!”
Suzanne’s suggestions to keep your hound healthy and happy
Variety is the spice of life
Dogs don’t tend to be fussy or get bored of eating the same food, but if you feed them the same thing – the same protein – all of the time, you are in danger of giving them an allergy. Most owners fall into a trap of finding something their dog likes and keeping them on it, but different meats do different things. The same is true of dogs as it is humans – if someone just ate beef all of the time they’d have some problems, but eating it once in a while is good for the heart.
Don’t overload on carbs
Carbohydrates are not a natural part of a dog’s diet and are largely used because they are a cheap filler. Raw feeding [uncooked meats, bones, fruits and vegetables] is the closest to what your dog would be doing in the wild. If you put your dog in a wheat field with a cooker he’ll starve to death, let him run around and chase bunnies and chickens and he’ll be fine.
A dental don’t
Feeding a dog a biscuit is like giving your kid a biscuit before bed and thinking it will clean their teeth. It sticks to their teeth and they don’t have the necessary enzymes to get rid of the carbs because they aren’t born to eat it. Raw feeding stimulates these enzymes and leaves teeth clean.
Breath of fresh air
Dogs smell really doggy if they are not on good food. If you have a smelly dog it will be because of what it is eating. A dog on a healthy diet doesn’t smell.
Many behavioural issues are down to diet and often a change is enough. A dog that’s a bag of nerves or energy can’t focus on commands.