Holistic Health for Furry Foodies
As a first timer to The Dining Dog & Friends, expect a warm greeting from owners Althea Seeds and Risa Krohn. They will take you by the hand and lead you to a large glass deli case filled with a tempting assortment of mouthwatering treats that look as if they came from an old world Viennese pastry shop.
Baskets brim with ginger snaps, banana bites, oatmeal cream biscuits, pumpkin molasses cookies, pizza sticks, blueberry, and strawberry cream tarts. Before long, there’s one in your mouth. There’s no hesitation or culinary inhabitations here, and no lack of imagination, compassion or energy.
But wait, you think as you chew happily. These treats are for dogs, no? You begin to pant yourself, a bit nervously initially as you quickly gain trust. “We’re just a species, too,” says Seeds, who assures customers that the whole foods and treats are created with the finest ingredients while keeping in mind they’re intended for clients with four legs.
“There’s no such thing as people food. It’s planet food,” she adds as she proudly surveys the dried bunches of fresh herbs and locally sourced ingredients spread out on stainless steel countertops that make the space look like a test kitchen on the Food Network.
“Love is our first ingredient,” Seeds says.
Fulfilling a lifelong dream that began when she started caring for animals more than 30 years ago, Seeds opened the whole foods only market with a bakery for pets with Krohn, her partner, in 2014. It’s in South Whitehall Township off Hamilton Boulevard, next to the Chicken Lounge.
“Everything here is real,” says Seeds — the raw milk yogurt made fresh daily, fermented fish stock and meats from local farms. Fresh soups, stews, meatloaf, and cakes, cookies, treats and more — none of it with soy, corn, BHA or artificial colors, flavors — attract customers who come seeking more wholesome and holistic diets for their furry companions.
But Seeds also has a special set of clientele for whom she has a particular warm spot — police dogs. “They put their lives on the line every day, and they have to be strong,” she says. “They’re sent into situations where you wouldn’t send a human being. They have to be equipped with good vision and a keen sense of smell that whole foods support.”
Cirrus, a tough, fearless black-coated 6-year-old German Shepherd with the South Whitehall Township Police Department’s K-9 unit, was among her first clients. “We were at the grand opening for The Dining Dog & Friends and when I spoke to Althea she pointed out areas of improvement and how whole foods could benefit Cirrus,” recalls South Whitehall Township K-9 Officer Kyle Golden. “She mentioned ways for him to look better and restore a shinier coat, clear eyes and make him a better police dog,” he says.
Seeds recommended a low-grain whole food, whey protein to bulk up Cirrus and some raw milk yogurt along with herbs and other whole food treats to detox his body from residual build up from his previous regime. “There’s been a big difference in him,” Golden says. “His coat is shiny and waterproof – water just wicks right off him.”
He said Cirrus is not shedding nearly as much, his eyes are as clear as glass and the nose on the tip of his pointy snout is more acute as he picks up scents on assignments. Cirrus made headlines last year when he assisted Salisbury Township police in finding a missing elderly man suffering from dementia. “You want him to have a nutritious diet to stay healthy,” Golden adds. “If he’s injured or not at his best, it doesn’t help the police department or the community.”
Seeds designs made-from-scratch dishes with help and holistic advice she has picked up from veterinarians she consults with and through years of experience observing her
“Always remember that we are designed to heal ourselves, a dog’s digestion begins in their mouth and that means clean water is imperative,” says Seeds, who also tries everything first on her own pups to get their approval for more.
“I always put myself in their position when it comes to nutrition,” she says. “That’s why we believe strongly here at The Dining Dog in a varied diet. Would my body get what it needs from eating the same thing every day and thrive? I don’t think so.”
In addition to the South Whitehall Township Police Department’s K-9 unit, The Dining Dog & Friends also supports the Allentown Police Department’s K-9 unit. Seeds says her donation of food and nutritional advice are part of her philosophy to give back to the community. “If an animal is in trouble, it’s our instinct to react and do whatever we can to help,” Seeds says. “For police dogs, in particular, they sometimes have to move at the speed of light to help and protect the public. We’re here to help them perform at their best.”
Officer Golden recently added a second officer to his staff, 2-year-old Kimber. A Labrador retriever, she’s finishing up her initial training as a bomb sniffing dog. “When her training is completed, we’ll go over and see Althea,” he says.