It all started with Jordan, our big beautiful Standard Poodle, was raised with what I like to refer to as ‘old thinking’. He was the dog our kids grew up with. He was barely 9 years old when he passed away.
We loved Jordan very much. As proof of our love we never missed a vaccination. We were religiously punctual with all recommended inoculations, medications, exams, and even flea dips as recommended by the groomer as ticks and fleas were always an issue.
As for food, super market food was what we bought. Science Diet, which was considered a premium brand (at that time), was from my point of view unnecessary, too expensive, and just a marketing ploy.
In 1995 Jordan, had just turned 9. He was a great dog. He was the official cul-de-sac dog. He completed the neighborhood which included kids skating, playing baseball and hanging out. Jordan was part of that universe. Everyone loved him. When he died, I was so sad I went to bed for 2 days.
Within the same time frame Dr. Jean Dodds DVM showed up on my radar. She recommended limiting vaccinations – as over vaccinating compromised a pet’s immune system. This was the early days of the internet- Yahoo wasn’t founded until 1995 and Google until 1998. Access to information via the internet was limited.
In 1995, I remember reading about Dr. Dodds. Traditional vets thought she was a quack – even going so far as to suggest her license to practice needed to be rescinded. Holistic Vets (who were thought by some traditional vets to be charlatans) were slow to adopt her philosophy.
I wish that I could say I immediately jumped on Dr. Dodds’ bandwagon. I was torn between agreeing with her one minute and thinking to myself that I needed to slow down because her ideas were unproven and most traditional vets disagreed with her.
The culmination of Jordan’s premature death, Dr. Dodds’ warnings and my own experience in the human natural product universe started me on my journey to create Ark Naturals.
Ark Naturals was launched early in 1996. Late in 1995 I had 2 very lucky breaks. The first lucky break was meeting Dr. Nancy Scanlan DVM. Today she’s the executive director of the AHVMA (American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association); and Dr. C. Leigh Broadhurst Ph.D. who works with the USDA.
Both women are exceedingly knowledgeable in both the natural world and the traditional world.
I vigorously pursued both women trying to convince them to come and work with and for Ark Naturals. Both women agreed reluctantly as they thought the public (at that time) would not accept their ‘new thinking’ and that myself along with the newly formed Ark Naturals would quickly lose interest.
Today twenty plus years later we have proven that the wonderful, kind and thoughtful pet owning universe cares and will do whatever it takes to keep their fur family healthy.
We opened for business in 1996 with virtually no business. If we received an order for $50.00 we thought, we were millionaires.
In those early days, I telephoned stores trying to interest them in Ark Naturals. Typically, the response was “no one wants natural”. I know that sounds inconceivable, but that’s the way it was.
The two biggest issues that Ark Natural faced were:
1) Chinese pet products were cheaper and consumers’ purchasing decisions were price driver
2) Our marketing dollars were so minuscule compared to the well-known pet companies it was impossible to get our message out.
Our business grew very slowly. The main interest for our brand came from natural product stores. Pet stores were very hesitant to think ‘natural’
2007 brought the Chinese pet food scandal – we learned Chinese companies were adding melamine to foods and treats which killed so many dogs and cats.
It is unfortunate that it took a tragedy for pet parents, retailers and distributors to change their philosophy and seek USA quality products.
Made in the USA! From our inception- it was my belief that Made in the USA would be our business model. We didn’t need the tragedy of foreign adulterated products to convince us that Made in the USA was and continues to be the gold standard.
Over the 20+ years we have been in business we have seen pets live longer and healthier lives. This is due to a combination of humans who love their pets unconditionally, vets who are open to more natural modalities, pet food companies who manufacture quality foods and companies like us – Ark Naturals rounding out the market with natural remedy, wellness and lifestyle products to boost and maintain the health of pets.
By 2013 there was a seismic shift – a giant mindset change regarding pet longevity, pet care and pet health. Simply put dogs and cats were outliving their expected lives. Because of this I knew it was time to launch our 2nd brand, specifically for senior pets. Gray Muzzle for senior dog and cats was born in 2013. Just because a pet is a ‘senior’ doesn’t mean it’s all over. I like to refer to this stage of their life as their “Second Chapter”. Gray Muzzle focuses on health issues applicable to older cats and dogs. Much like the beginning of Ark Naturals, it was a slow start – but as before with ArkNaturals, Gray Muzzle is growing very rapidly.
It’s been an amazing journey. One that has made me so proud to have pioneered the natural pet health category. Here we are today, 2016. We are excited to have almost hit the 21 year anniversary
Over the years we have won multiple awards…. You can see them posted on our web site.
Ark Naturals and our senior brand Gray Muzzle— always Made in the USA are the Gold Standard in pet health, remedy, wellness and lifestyle products for cats and dogs.
Nothing is as fantastic as having a furry body next to you, or on top of you – and wet kisses – As pet lovers, I don’t have to say more.
While it’s my journey it’s yours too!