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Sequim pet boarding facility releases all-natural, gourmet dog food

The day Kelli Chen and her family lost their beloved family dog Meanut was one of the worst days of their lives.

Meanut, a Pomeranian mix named by Chen's young children who couldn't pronounce "Peanut," was part of the family, the mother of three boys said. The dog escaped from a Sequim boarding facility and never was found. Though the experience was devastating, it was the loss of Meanut that inspired Chen to open Dungeness Ranch Pet Resort, a full-service dog and cat resort, salon and spa with an emphasis on security. Dogs are allowed to play in yards surrounded by chain link fence and monitored by video camera, with multiple television screens in almost every room at the resort.

More than five years later, Meanut is a memory but the business continues to expand its products and services.

Mid-July, Dungeness Ranch released its own gourmet dog food. Resort Gourmet Ultra Premium Dog Food is available in five formulas exclusively at the Co-op Farm & Garden in "Sequim. "We developed the food because we were very unsatisfied with the results we were getting from feeding other brands of natural, holistic pet foods here at the resort," Chen explained. Symptoms ranged from vomiting and diarrhea to foul breath and dry skin.

"I was shocked to learn how many unhealthy ingredients are in dog and cat food, including holistic pet foods," Chen said in disbelief. "Garlic is toxic to dogs, most people don't know that."

"Resort Gourmet does not contain unhealthy ingredients such as fish, garlic, corn, wheat and soy, to name the most common offenders," she said passionately.

The dog food business, according to Chen, is very competitive. "Companies try to differentiate themselves through their ingredients and many of them use ingredients that sound good to us as a marketing ploy but are clearly not healthy for dogs," she said. "What's not in it is almost more important than what is in it, though."

Chen advises pet owners to read the list of ingredients on pet food packages before feeding it to animals and to avoid grain-free diets. "These are gimmicks," she said firmly. "They are comparative to the Atkins diet for animals, but healthy dogs need carbohydrates for energy. They are essential for a healthy lifestyle."

A complete list of ingredients Chen recommends avoiding is online at www.resortgourmet.com.

Resort Gourmet is made using fresh deboned chicken, steamed vegetables, brown rice, potatoes and other carefully selected ingredients such as olive oil and flax seed.

When Chen developed Resort Gourmet dog food, it was with the intention of feeding it to dogs boarding at the facility. "I never imagined people would want to feed it to their dogs at home," she said, stating her pleasure with the product's success and her business relationship with the Co-op. "The feedback from our customers has been phenomenal, they are so happy that Resort Gourmet is available at a store which offers a great shopping experience, convenience and friendly customer service."

Chen isn't stopping at the dog food industry. She's created a gourmet blend of cat food that is in the process of receiving FDA approval. "It should be available within the next four months," she predicted.

The cat food will be sold exclusively at the Co-op Farm & Garden store alongside the dog food.

The Co-op was established in 1936 and is located at 216 E. Washington St., in downtown Sequim.

"Resort Gourmet Dog Food is our No. 1 selling natural dog food," said Co-op employee Barbara Lundstedt in a recent press release. "We are all pet lovers here, so it makes me really happy knowing that Resort Gourmet is improving the health of our customers' pets."

For more information about Dungeness Ranch Pet Resort, go online to www.dungenessranch.com or call owner Kelli Chen at 681-0939.



Sequim entrepreneur

teams up with PETCO



Dungeness Ranch Pet Resort owner Kelli Chen treats every animal like it's her own.

With her own pets Chen uses only the best products on the market, which is why five years ago she developed her own line of salon formulas: medicated shampoo, conditioner, detangler and more.

"I tried every brand I could find, no-name brands to top-of-the-line brands, and I wasn't satisfied with any of the results," Chen said. So as an ambitious young mother, she started creating her own products - ones she's so confident about that she has used them on her own children, Chen admitted.

After one year of using the products for her own use, PETCO offered her a contract. "We were so excited that PETCO was interested in our products," Chen remembered. "We are now a top-shelf seller there and each year our presence expands."

Early in 2008, upon request by dog and cat lovers, a baby-powder-based blend of dog and cat grooming products was released. A holiday line, including a sugar cookie scent, will launch this fall.

All products are a cosmetic grade that's safe for animal and human use.



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