Two German Shepherds – Two Different Lives – Guest Bloggers Mick and Brandy Malone

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Brandy, Mick, and Baby

Richard Darlington invited me and Brandy to share the story of our 2 German Shepherds and what we learned that is helping our second one be so much healthier because we both know a lot of people that are having problems like we were and they need to know there really is a simple solution. Brandy and I wrote this but we had help with spelling and making our words say what we wanted them to say. We don’t want anyone expecting us to write this good all the time.

My name is Mick Malone and this is my wife Brandy and Baby, our first GSD. My wife Brandy and I met in Greeneville, Tennessee, in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains when she was almost 15 and I had just turned 17. It was like a Tennessee version of Romeo and Juliet, but thankfully without the sad ending. We were young but I guess we saw something special in each other that summer because 25 years later it’s still working and I’m totally grateful for the love of such a beautiful woman. 

As we approached our thirties we were still a family of two and we decided to bring a German Shepherd into our life. That addition was a 12 week old female GSD who we named Baby, and we loved her like no other dog we’d ever had.

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Our beautiful Baby

Baby was with us for 12 years and during that time, and despite our best intentions and willingness to do everything in our power to help, Baby developed problems that included continual itching, dark scabs or sores on her belly and inner thighs, hot spots, yeasty ears, hip dysplasia, and renal failure. We spent well over $20,000 over the years doing everything we could think of to help her, which included stem cell therapy on 2 separate occasions. Baby died at the age of 12 ultimately as a result of Chronic Hip Dysplasia and Osteoarthritis.

We spared no expense in our effort to help Baby, but it was our lack of knowledge in the area of nutrition that ultimately undermined anything we or the professionals tried to do to help her. In fact I am now convinced that is was poor nutrition that was the cause of all her problems to begin with. We wish we had known then what we know now (and which we are going to share with you). We may not be able to change the past, but what we have learned from it is helping us create a healthier future for our dog Heidi and hopefully for yours as well.

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Baby carrying too much weight too soon for her joints

We didn’t know much about dog food when we got Baby so we followed the breeders recommendations and fed her Purina One Smart Blend Large Breed Puppy Formula for the first year. At 10 months we were feeding her about 8 cups a day based on the suggested feeding rate (which is 2,888 calories). She was growing and putting on weight very fast, too fast really – but we didn’t know that at the time,  because we were following the recommended feeding rate and mistakenly assumed that bigger was better.

At 1 year old Baby weighed 80 lbs and we switched her over to the Purina One Adult Formula mixed with Bil-Jac. She had developed yeasty ears by this time and she was itching a lot. Nothing the Veterinarian suggested, or did, had a lasting effect, but back and forth we went like hopeful parents thinking the next thing they tried might possibly work. After 4 years on that merry-go-round we had her tested for allergies and she tested positive for Salmon, fish, Pork, and Beef allergies.

So, after 5 years on Purina and Bil-Jac, we switched her to Blue Buffalo Wilderness Chicken but the itching and yeasty ears continued. In fact things began to get worse. She began developing black scabs on her stomach and inner thighs and hot spots started appearing in different places and to make matters worse her anal glands were not expressing normally. 

We fed her Blue Buffalo for the next 5 years until she was 10 but nothing really worked on the constant itching, black scabs, hot spots, or yeasty ears and we tried everything. Our Vet didn’t know what actually caused the conditions or what to do about them other than treat the symptoms with antibiotics and shots which gave temporary relief at best. We followed his advice because we assumed he had superior knowledge on the subject. He didn’t consider that her food might have something to do with Baby’s problems, so neither did we.

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Baby

At 10 years old while having a tooth extracted we had xrays taken of Baby’s hips to check for hip Dysplasia and the Vet told us she had chronic hip dysplasia and chronic osteoarthritis and would probably be completely crippled in 3 to 6 months.

Brandy refused to accept the finality of the diagnosis and began doing research on the Internet. This led to Deramaxx and Adequin injections for her joints and eventually to Stem Cell treatment down in Knoxville which seemed to help. Then a few months later Baby went into renal failure (not due to the stem cell treatment just more results of long term faulty diet). The doctor put her on Hills Prescription KD and over the next few months Baby lost so much muscle on that low protein diet (15.5% protein) that we switched her to Canine Caviar special needs diet which she did a little better on for a couple months until her stools became rock hard. They denied that they had changed the formula but it came out later on the Internet that they had and they lied about it. After that we cooked chicken and rice for Baby because we’d lost faith in the dog food companies.

A year after the Stem Cell treatment Baby’s xrays showed that her joints had not gone through any further deterioration, so we scheduled a second stem cell treatment. A year after that second treatment Baby and I were walking down the street when a car swerved and nearly hit us causing Baby to leap out of the way. She tore both her knees and her right shoulder so badly there was nothing that could be done and she was in a lot of pain. Three days later, cradled in our arms and surrounded by loving friends in our home, the Vet administered the drug that put Baby to sleep.

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Heidi soon after we brought her home

After losing Baby, Brandy and I were devastated and heartbroken. We had such a big hole in our hearts and the house was so empty. We looked around and eventually found a breeder who had a litter of 8 GSD’S. She fed them Purina and recommended that we feed Purina. We took Heidi home and started doing research on what we were going to feed her. We no longer trusted dog food companies and we were determined to find a way to protect Heidi and prevent her from having to go through what Baby had gone through.

So Brandy and I spent the next few months doing research day and night and one night Brandy was reading about a dog food called Brothers Complete that she thought was different from the rest, so I emailed them with some questions and concerns and the next day I got an email from Richard Darlington the company Co-CEO. We emailed back and forth for awhile and I told him about Baby and explained why we were asking so many questions because we hoped to prevent what happened to Baby from happening to Heidi. The next day the phone rang and it was Richard on the phone. It blew my mind that the company owner cared enough to call me personally because he knew what we’d gone through with Baby. We talked for almost 2 hours and he went over why Baby had been sick all her life and why Brothers would keep Heidi healthy. It was very technical but he explained it in a way that I could understand most of it and even when I didn’t I could understand the sincerity in his voice and that he actually cared about dogs and believed in what he was telling me.

We were particularly worried about Hip Dysplasia because of what had happened to Baby but Richard explained that Heidi would grow at a slower rate than Baby had because she would be eating a balanced, nutrient rich, high protein food without all the high glycemic carbs that add extra weight. This would allow her to grow at the proper rate so her bones, muscles, and tendons would develop evenly together and be fully developed and strong enough to support her full grown weight when she finally achieved it at about 2 years.  He compared this to Baby eating Purina Large Breed Puppy food by explaining that when Baby was 1 year old she weighed 80 lbs which was about 30 to 35 lbs more than he thought she should have weighed at that point, and Purina suggested feeding her 8 cups a day which was 2,888 calories, (a lot of which were high glycemic carbs) which made her gain weight too fast. This put too much weight on her still developing joints and connective tissue and was likely a large contributing factor to her developing Hip Dysplasia.

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Heidi here after being on Purina for 4 months. Look at how dull her coat is.

We decided to give Brothers Complete a try. At this point Heidi had been on Purina for 4 months and her coat was dull. Over the next few months we noticed a wonderful change in Heidi. Her ears cleared up and became a healthy pink and her coat went from dull to soft and shiny. The shiny worked it’s way from her tail to her nose. It was crazy, her face was the last thing to become soft and shiny. At the one year mark Heidi weighed 45 lbs and her seven littermates all weighed between 70 and 90 lbs. I asked Brandy if she thought Heidi was a dwarf because she was only about 45 lbs. She laughed and said no.

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Heidi at 22 months and 72 lbs is in incredible shape

Everything that Richard told us would happen has happened as he said. Heidi continued to gain weight slowly and steadily and she remained sleek during the entire process. At 22 months she weighs 72 lbs which her littermates had all weighed by the time they were 10 to 12 months old. She has beautiful definition, rippling muscles, and endless energy. It is obvious that she is healthier and in better shape than Baby ever was, which is thanks to the lessons we learned the hard way with Baby and what we’ve learned about balanced and proper nutrition from Richard.

It is our wish to share what we learned from Baby as a way to honor her memory by helping others avoid what we now know were mistakes, regardless of how well intentioned they may have been at the time. It wasn’t from a lack of love or effort, we loved Baby with all our heart and did the best we could with the knowledge we had at the time, It turns out our biggest mistake was not comprehending the monumental impact that nutrition, either good or bad, has on the overall health and wellbeing of a dog. 

At almost 2 years old Heidi is in absolutely perfect, shining health – no dull eyes, no dull fur, no itching, no hot spots, no dark scabs, just a beautiful dog in perfect, shining health.

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Heidi in perfect health at her perfect weight

We don’t have any connection or financial interest in Brothers so we’re quite sincere when we tell you that we don’t think there is a better food made after our experience with Baby and Heidi.

And if you think Brothers is expensive then you need to visit the Brothers Complete TRUE COST CALCULATOR to compare the TRUE COST of the food you’re feeding to Brothers. It surprised me. It’s not just the cost of the bag, you have to figure in the number of cups you feed each day. You put that info into the calculator along with the weight of the bag and it will tell you what you are really paying per day and per month to feed your food and it will compare the cost to Brothers. For us it turned out that it was more expensive to feed Baby Blue Buffalo for the last 5 years than it would have been to feed Brothers because you need 1 3/4 cups of Blue for each cup of Brothers.

Heidi only needs 2 1/2 cups a day of Brothers @ $0.89 / cup. Plus we give her the Brothers treats because they’re the same formula with high protein and they don’t give her a loose stool if I happen to give her too many. So that’s $2.22 for food and $0.48 for 4 treats for a daily total of $2.70 a day to feed her the healthiest food we’ve found. That’s only about $81 a month for food and treats that keep her incredibly healthy. Maybe you pay a couple bucks more a month to feed Brothers but just one saved visit to the Vet probably pays that extra little bit for a year.  But even if it’s a little more to feed Brothers, the difference in your dogs health and your drastically reduced Vet bills makes it 100 times worth it in our opinion.

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HEIDI in perfect health

“A healthy dog is a LOT less expensive than a sick dog – and a lot happier”….and you can quote Mick Malone on that one.

Mick, Brandy, and Heidi Malone

Greeneville, Tennessee July 7, 2017