In the house where I grew up, duties were sharply divided along gender lines. My mother took care of the children and everything inside the house; my father brought home the bacon and took care of everything outside of the house. Chores among the five children were assigned using the same policy. The three girls helped our mother with the dishes, the dusting, the vacuuming, and the laundry. The two boys helped mow the lawn, weed around the shrubbery, and wash the car. They also performed what we girls considered the worst job of all: scooping the poop of our two dogs, a beagle named Candy and an Airedale named Sam.
About once a week, they were dispatched with shovels, one to the front yard, one to the back. Their assignment was to find all the dog poop and scoop it upa considerable job, given that my brothers always grumbled that neighbor dogs found our yard the most appealing place to take care of their business. Once my brothers cleaned up the poop, they had to deposit it under the forsythia bush just beside the vegetable garden. Everyone marveled at our huge forsythia bush.
For the last several years, my children have been pleading with me to get a dog. They point out that all of their friends have dogs; they promise to take care of it, to feed it and wash it and walk itthe same old song kids have been singing for centuries, no doubt. For me, the deciding factor has been simple: When they are old enough to scoop the poop, they are old enough to get a dog. As a single mom, I am the inside person and the outside person, and I think I have quite enough to do already, thank you very much. We have two cats, whose poop I have been scooping on a daily basis for the past four years.
Not only that, but I already have five hungry mouths to feed. Do I really need another?
At least I can get some help with that responsibility. Some time ago, Scene colleague Janie Taylor phoned in a tip about Pet Chef Express, a home delivery service for dog and cat food. When I asked for more information, I received the following e-mail from Moe, the stray dog Janie found foraging near the Dairy Queen dumpster in Monteagle:
“I LOVE my food from Pet Chef Express! Not only does it taste better, but also it is packed with vitamins and protein so I don’t need as much. Janie likes it because she gets ‘more bark for her buck.’ I used to get worn out walking Janie in the morning and night, but now I can run far, jump high, and bark for hours if I need to. Also, I used to eat foods that gave me severe indigestionain’t nothin’ pretty about that! But not with Pet Chef Express food. And the best thing is, because Pet Chef Express delivers, we never run out of food anymore.”
Well, Moe sounded like one happy dog to me, so I called Pet Chef Express and asked them to tell me more. They sent a brochure and a letter that gave the nutritional breakdown for all the foods, the particulars of the delivery service, testimonials (similar to Moe’s) about the benefits of the food, and information about other products they carry. But what really caught my eye was this line: The pets eat less, and yard waste is often cut in half..
I immediately placed a call to Jim Hogg, who co-owns Pet Chef Express with his son Justin and with Steve Schmidt. He gave me the scoop on the business. The Hoggs and Schmidt each owned a franchise of Whiskers & Paws Catering, a national pet food delivery service. When both experienced some difficulties with the franchiser, they decided to team up and start their own business.
Pet Chef Express offers six types of dog food and four types of cat food both canned and drywhich is produced in Ohio. According to Hogg, the biggest difference between this pet food and store-bought pet food is not what’s in the food, but what’s not in it. “There is no chemical preservatives, no artificial colors, and no crude fibers like peanut hulls, rice bran, soy hulls, or wheat bran, which can harm the digestive system,” he explains.
The dog foods vary according to the age and nutritional needs of the dogs, as well as the owner’s budget. Puppy food is available for dogs up to 1 year old; adult lean is for dogs who could stand to lose a few pounds; adult sensitive is for dogs who have food allergies, a fairly common problem; adult maintenance is the lowest-priced food; and chicken meal and rice, as well as lamb meal and rice, are for the canine gourmet.
“We are getting nearly a new customer a day just by referrals,” Hogg says. “Someone runs out of dog food and goes to their neighbor, who happens to have Pet Chef Express. They see their pet scarf it down, and they want to sign up too. People are just crazy about their pets and want to make them happy and healthy.”
Hogg also attributes his product’s popularity to its freshness. “We order the food from our manufacturer and have it one week later. We have a very small warehouse here, so we deliver it pretty close to when we get it.”
Customers are on a once-monthly delivery system and order by the pound. According to Hogg, the average order totals about 30 pounds a month. Prices for that much dog food range from about $17 for adult maintenance to $30 for lamb. Pet Chef leaves the foods in an airtight container, along with an invoice, and customers pay for the service monthly. Delivery is free. A few days before the scheduled delivery date, Pet Chef calls or e-mails customers to remind them the food is on the way, and to see if they have any extra requests.
In addition to dog and cat foods, Pet Chef also carries kitty litter, grooming products, and special treats. Particularly popular are Aunt Bea’s Biscuits, locally baked treats for horses and dogs. Special this month: banana biscotti!
That seems a little nutty to me. Thanks to Pet Chef Express, there may be a dog in our near future, but if he wants banana biscotti, he’d better clean up his own poop.
Contact Pet Chef Express at 595-7813 or 262-2668.