My name is Mary Straus, and I've lived with dogs all my life (pictured at right is me with my dog Ella, a Norwich Terrier born in 2004). I became interested in dog training and behavior in the 1980s, attending several seminars given by Ian Dunbar, who lives in my local area (the San Francisco Bay Area). In 1997, I attended a seminar on wolf behavior at Wolf Park in Indiana, which changed my life. I was introduced to clicker training for the first time, and I began to consider the question of how we feed our dogs after watching the wolves eat whole deer carcasses.
I started researching information on a raw diet for dogs, and after a year of study I converted my dogs to a homemade raw diet in 1998. I continued to want to learn more, and in 1999, I joined the K9Nutrition list, and became a moderator there in 2002. In 2007, I left K9Nutrition to focus more on writing and my web site.
I have spent literally hours every day for several years now doing research for people whose dogs have health problems, or who just want to learn how to feed them a better diet. Over this time, I have learned a great deal about dog nutrition and health, including the role of diet, supplements and nutraceuticals. Because of my time spent on the K9Nutrition list, I have learned much about what has worked for other people, and what has caused problems. My own investigations and those of others have also made me aware of recent research in many areas, much of it contradicting what was formerly considered true and often is still propagated, not only by dog owners, but by veterinarians.
In September 2004, I attended a seminar given by Dr. David Mech on "The Diet of the Wolf in the Wild." There I met CJ Puotinen, frequent contributor to the Whole Dog Journal, and author of The Encyclopedia of Natural Pet Care as well as other books. She and I ended up collaborating on two articles for the Whole Dog Journal on kidney disease, When to Say No to Low-Protein, about diet for dogs with kidney disease, and Not So Fast, about how chronic kidney disease is often misdiagnosed. CJ then encouraged me to begin writing articles myself, and my first article was published in the March 2006 issue. I have since become a regular contributor to that publication.
In 2007, The Ivy Group asked me to contribute to The Healthy Dog Cookbook. While I was not comfortable writing the recipes for this book (I prefer to give dietary guidelines rather than recipes), I ended up doing almost everything else -- I wrote the Introduction, did the nutritional analyses, and wrote the "Facts" that go with each recipe, including portion sizes and amount of calcium to add.
In the summer of 2009, I was asked by the editor of Dog World to write their "Cook's Corner" column. My columns appeared in each of the 2010 issues, after which the magazine was redesigned and the column discontinued. I continued to write occasional articles for Dog World, and one for Dog Fancy, after that time.
DogAware.com has been created to help make people more "aware" of how to make the best decisions for their dogs. It's designed for people who like to ask questions and understand the reasoning behind decisions, rather than just being told what to do. The information provided will help you become aware of such things as:
- How to identify and select the best commercial foods.
- Alternatives to feeding just dry or canned commercial food to your dog.
- The thinking behind the use of various supplements and nutraceuticals.
- The latest research in many areas, including:
- Vaccinations -- did you know that annual vaccinations are no longer recommended?
- The importance of pain control for surgical procedures (and the options available).
- The importance of protein in the dog's diet, and how it has been falsely accused of causing such problems as joint abnormalities in growing puppies, and damage to kidneys in both healthy dogs and dogs in kidney failure, all of which has been disproved by recent research.
- The role of nutrition, supplements and nutraceuticals when dealing with various health problems.
I have begun adding affiliate links to a few sites and products that I recommend in order to generate a small amount of income to help pay for my site. I do not link to any sites or products that I do not recommend, and if I find a better price at a non-affiliated site, I provide that link instead or in addition. I also added Google ads for the same purpose; note that I have no control over the companies who advertise that way so those are not products I am recommending.
For those of you who are wondering why BowChow.com became DogAware.com, I was contacted in January, 2005, by an attorney for the Nestlé Purina company, who claimed that my domain name was an infringement on their trademark of the word "chow". We were able to come to an amicable agreement where they reimbursed me for the costs of changing my domain name to DogAware.com, which I think is more descriptive of what this site is about, so I am not unhappy with the change.
Below are pictures of my last two dogs, Piglet, whom I lost in March 2009 at age 17, and Nattie, who passed away four years earlier at age 16. I owned Shar-Pei for 26 years, although I was not involved with the breed after the 1980s. All of my dogs come to me as adults. I chose to switch to Norwich Terriers for many reasons, including my concerns about dog aggression and my need to be sure that I have dogs I can physically manage as I grow older.
Piglet at age 15, 12/22/91 - 3/5/2009
Nattie at age 12, 9/20/88 - 1/31/05