"Puzzles and Treats"
Yeahhhhh! I just completed a 500 piece double sided jigsaw puzzle. My daughter-in-law gave my husband this puzzle, a picture of Frank Lloyd Wright’s “Fallingwater,” the home the architect designed over a creek in Pennsylvania. I started the puzzle after Christmas and finished it two months later! Jim, my husband, thoroughly enjoyed watching me work on it! I thoroughly enjoyed the challenge and the joy of completion.
My daughter, the vet, commented on some of the challenges I dealt with during this project, reminding us of the not so different challenges Dr. Becker’s Bites has dealt with during the past 20 years.
Two are significant and worthy of mention: the competition, and the spilt tea. Let me explain the spilt tea first. I brought my tea cup to the puzzle table, then proceeded to tip the cup over. Thankfully I was half finished with the puzzle and over half finished with the tea. Nonetheless, enough tea spilled that the front of several puzzle pieces separated from the back side, which was a picture of the architectural drawing.
Not to be deterred from continuing, I wiped up the spilt tea and put a heavy book on the wet pieces. I got them dried and flattened, I continued working – no pieces were damaged or destroyed – and I was able to continue my project. This reminded me of the potential damage the financial crisis of 2007-2008 could have caused Dr. Becker’s Bites. We were a new business, about eight years old, and facing the same risk that all new businesses face, but especially during the resulting recession that hit the country. It stopped our growth temporarily, but we were tremendously grateful it didn’t cause us to quit and close our doors.
The second challenge started slowly, then grew very quickly. We began selling Dr. Becker’s Bites around 2000 from the basement of our home, to pet boutiques in the Chicago area. We were the only treat on the market that was a truly single ingredient, human grade beef liver treat for dogs and cats. There was not another treat like Dr. Becker’s Bites. However, that changed quickly. Within a few short years, more and more treats appeared with the following claims: no starch, gluten free, no grains, organic, truly healthy, etc. etc. I began to fear what all the competition could do to us. Then I started reading their labels carefully (and looking at the country of origin for their meat) and compared them with our own labels. Our labels read beef liver, or bison, lamb, venison liver, all human grade and handmade. That’s it!!! Our label also claims ”completely sourced in the U.S.,” which is not the case with many other meat-based treats these days.
So how did my puzzle lead to this comparison? The puzzle was tricky…there were pieces practically identical in shape and even color, but in the end they truly didn’t fit. And I didn’t realize they didn’t fit until I looked more closely, read the fine lines and design, with a magnifying glass! In other words, until you read the fine print on your “grain free” treat package, you will not know that the grains have been substituted with sweet potato, tapioca or another starchy vegetable. Reading the fine print might let you know the sourcing of the product; and, more often than not, reading the ingredient list will give you a list of ingredients you can’t even pronounce.
A cursory look at the puzzle did not show that some of the pieces were in the wrong place. A look at the front of the treat package will not show that some of the ingredients are harmful for your pet to consume. I had to dig deep to find the piece that truly fit, and you may have to dig deep (as in calling the company to get the answers you need) to learn whether the food and treats you are giving your pet truly fit with your concept of wellness. It’s worth the dig, my friends.