Dorothy Hunter is on a mission. Hunter, the owner of Paw’s Natural Pet Emporium in Richland, Washington, really wants you to feed your dog healthy food. It matters to her so much that she's eating nothing but dog food for a month. She’s chronicled the experience on her YouTube channel, where you can watch her scarf down dog treats, canned tuna pate and kibble. Before speaking to her about her project, I binge-watched her taste-testing videos, which accomplished the impossible feat of making dog food look delicious.
VICE: So you decided to only eat dog food for 30 days. What inspired that?
Dorothy Hunter: There are lots of times that we’ll meet companies that sell really good products that are using USDA or grade-A ingredients, but they aren’t allowed to put that on the package. I knew that, and I had a lot of confidence in these foods because we carry them in our store. Anyway, we had a car show coming up – we own a couple of hot rods – and I was just trying to get a bunch put out before the show that night, and on my way out of the house I grabbed a bag of snacks and they turned out to be Pure Bites. But I was like, “Hey. This is better than human food.”
Really? What do they taste like?
They taste like Goldfish [crackers], minus the salt. The ingredients are 100 percent cheddar cheese. So from there, I decided to do the Scout and Zoe’s chicken jerky, and she’s one of the ones who can’t put it on her package, but she uses the same USDA, grade-A chicken that we send to our restaurants. She doesn’t put anything else in it. It’s that simple. I have pride in what we’re selling – so much that I said, “I’ll put my mouth where my money is and eat my food.”
Right, and now you’re exclusively eating dog and cat food for a month. How has that made you feel?
I know that the health professionals out there are like, “Don’t do this!” And I agree with them. But I’ve only got 11 days left and I feel great. Although, when I was doing all the different kinds of canned foods, I was experiencing what would be known as “dog gas”.
What’s the best thing you’ve eaten so far?
On the meat side, it would probably be the Scout and Zoe's dehydrated chicken. My favorite dried kibble is the N&D “nutritious and delicious” dog food. And the worst? Yesterday we tried some 96 percent tuna pate. As soon as I cracked the can open, I knew I was in trouble, because I hate pate. My husband did the video with me too, and it’s pretty funny. I really wanted to spit it out, but I had no place to spit it. So yeah, that was nasty. But you know what? These ingredients are so good for your pets. My advice to everybody is ingredient awareness. Flip the bag over and read the ingredients. Go and ask questions at the pet store you go to, or go to an independent pet store.
Have you convinced any of your family and friends to join in?
Oh, yeah. My husband samples some of the food with me on the YouTube channel. And my brother joined in. We had an ingredient intervention with him – he just moved here from Nebraska and wasn’t feeding his pets the best food – so I had an intervention. I went to his house, brought a whole bunch of treats out and we tried them, and he was like, “Huh, that’s not bad.” So we converted his pets, and his pets liked the treats. Then we left the bag out on the counter, and that night – when he and his wife were unpacking in their new house – she ate, like, half the bag.
She ate half a bag of dog treats?
She actually liked them better than their other snacks at the house.
Wow. So if it’s good enough for your pets, it should be good enough for you.
Everybody still has that stigma that dog food is nasty, nasty, bad stuff. Back in 2008, when they had the major recalls on, like, every pet food out there except for the good brands, that’s when the natural foods started taking off.
And what are you eating today?
I had the canine granola blueberry cookies for breakfast. And I think I’m going to go find a new snack or new can or something and try it along with my Grandma Lucy’s for lunch, and the Honest Kitchen for dinner. And for my grand finale, I’m going to taste – but not eat – the Green Cow Green Beef Tripe. I’m sure it's going to be nasty, because I’ve opened the cans before and they stink. But I’m going to taste it. And before I actually taste it, I want people to know how good that is for digestion and other health benefits for your pets.