Local food is going to the dogs

Canine Utopia and Beastie Boutique provide natural, quality pet food and supplies

photos by zachary rice [imagebrowser id=22]

Just a year ago, Vancouver residents Evan Smith and Jason Pickering would drive to North Portland every two weeks for natural dog food. Food allergies among the couple’s three dogs, Dunkin’, Hera and Kyle, required them to look deeper into their dog food bag.

“Skin problems, ear infections, you name it and [Hera] was getting it,” said Pickering, “and it was the food that was doing it to her.”

Helping animals and owners “eat well, play well, sleep well and live well” became Smith and Pickering’s motto when they founded Canine Utopia in June of 2011.

In the past year Canine Utopia landed a spot in the Vancouver Business Journal’s Southwest Washington Business Growth Awards as a 2011 Start-up of the Year finalist and became established in the Uptown Village community.

Smith emphasized their research into pet food brands for the store. The two didn’t want any label that was co-packed — all of their manufacturers needed to own their production facilities. Manufacturers needed to prove where their meat and ingredients were being sourced and that no corn or substitute ingredients were used. Most importantly all food needed to be human-grade. “If worse came to worse, we would both eat the food that’s in the store,” said Pickering.

All three of Pickering and Smith’s dogs have eaten each brand of dog food Canine Utopia carries. “We wanted to be able to tell the customer this is how it feeds, what it looks like when it comes out, one dog didn’t like it, this dog loved it.”

Salmon Creek shop owners release e-book on pet Nutrition

Created by Kristina and Roger McLeskey, Beastie Boutique began as a web store in 2004 focusing on natural food gift baskets and by 2006 they had opened up their Salmon Creek storefront, providing all aspects of care and feeding to local pet owners.

From essentials to the whimsical, Beastie Boutique offers something
special to each four-legged family member to walk through their doors. Blinged-out collars, Cougar and Huskie team doggie jackets and other pet sweaters and coats are just a few items that can be found in the store. A number of porcelain figurines of dogs and cats peer out of display cases through the store. Grooming is another feature Beastie Boutique has to offer, inspired by popular demand. The store’s homey atmosphere and pet-friendliness provides more than just quality products for pets, it provides a quality, specialized experience with knowledgeable customer service and a comprehensive product guarantee.

Nutrition is at the forefront of the McLeskeys’ business. After raising a dog with food allergies the couple realized the importance of proper nutrition in their three dogs’ diets. Roger McLeskey has since become certified in nutrition and Kristina is currently working on her own certification. “Grocery food is just full of wheat, corn, byproducts, chemicals, food color, and low quality meats and vegetables,” says McLeskey, “There are too many carbs in dogs’ diets — we like to see a higher protein diet.” No one diet is the best for every pet, McLeskey noted, and the Beastie Boutique team helps pet owners discover the right fit.

The McLeskeys have also funneled their combined expertise into Dog Food Decoded, a soon to be released e-book. The book discusses the differences between natural dog food and that available at grocery stores; examining ingredients, nutritional values, diets as well as supplements within all price ranges. Debut is anticipated within the next couple of weeks and pre-order options can be found on the website.

Beastie Boutique also has a strong impact on local adoption and charity donations. Each week the McLeskeys host one or two Los Angeles shelter animals through Pet Rescue at the store. “Unlike in this area [L.A. shelters are] high-kill centers,” says McLeskey. AniMeal is another organization Beastie Boutique promotes. The sister organization to Meals on Wheels helps give donated pet food and bedding to those in need. The organization found that Meals on Wheels recipients tend to feed their food to their pets and established AniMeal to keep both pet and owners in need fed.

Canine Utopia

2309 Main Street, Vancouver



Beastie Boutique

13023 N.E. Highway 99, Suite 8, Vancouver




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