Bumps in the road can create better outcomes

Whitefish, oat, and vegetable muffins

These ‘Whitefish, Oat, and Vegetable’ muffins just happened to be one of the recipes I made that didn’t irritate Grace’s digestive system. Now armed with the information about which foods Grace can tolerate, I can make better choices for commercially produced and homemade foods for her.

Have you ever had that feeling of being at the end of your rope? As if all your hard work has been for nothing?

I certainly have.

As regular readers will know, I’ve been on a recent quest to understand and resolve the issues related to Grace’s diet. I’ve read books, blogs, informational websites, talked to friends and experts on the topic. There is a lot of data out there, much of it consistent.

The research and facts point out that most commercially produced dog foods aren’t that nutritious, but you certainly can find ones that are healthy for Fido. It’s also clear that homemade food and raw meat diets are excellent choices for canines, but like anything, they have pros and cons.

We tried three high-quality commercial kibbles that made Grace sick. So I thought moving to a homemade diet would solve those problems, even if it meant extra work. As we moved forward, she had occasional upsets, but I persevered, thinking that I just needed to figure out the ratios between proteins and grains. Truth be told, I longed for the simple days when I opened a lid on the container and scooped out a portion of dry kibble, dropped it in her dish, and meal time was done. No prep, no mess, no clean-up. You have to keep in mind that I don’t like spending any more time in the kitchen than I need to.

Making homemade meals for dogs is cumbersome. In addition to the recipe searches, planning, grocery shopping, and cooking times, it includes the daily processes of thawing and warming food. It’s not as simple as microwaving (that’s a no-no as it destroys important enzymes). Dog food prep was becoming a constant activity.

To make matters worse, the time and energy I was spending on food education and preparation wasn’t helping at all. Instead of enjoying a healthy dog, we were busy cleaning furniture and bedding caused from upset stomachs, not to mention being awaken two nights in a row on frigid cold nights for emergency bathroom runs.

All these bumps in the road were, quite frankly, leaving me frustrated. At my wit’s end, I called a holistic vet in our area. Our primary vet had recommended a holistic approach when we had been discussing vaccination protocols, so I decided to explore this as well. Lucky for me, he could see us right away, because I wasn’t sure what to feed Grace next.

After leaving his office on Tuesday morning, I was armed with new data that I never knew I could get, and I immediately became thankful for those bumps in the road. Every mishap creates the opportunity to learn more.

I couldn’t explain his process and methodology intelligently, so I won’t try. He confirmed much of what I had learned from other sources, added his own opinion on topics, and provided a whole new approach I had never even heard of. He was able to test different food types specifically to Grace’s system and determine which ones she could tolerate and which ones she couldn’t. I left with a long list of ‘yes’ and ‘no’ options: she can tolerate beef and bison, but not corn or chicken. Turns out that my yummy-looking rice-filled muffins were contributing to digestive distress.

As I left, I had an enormous sense of relief because I had specific information about Grace. That’s exactly the same type of benefit that scientifically developed assessments can offer to managers. When we have customized information about a person and a situation, it not only eliminates the guesswork, it dramatically improves the quality of our decisions.

So often, management and leadership theories make complete sense when we hear about them in general terms. For example, all managers know they need to delegate tasks to the team in order to accomplish more. And the idea of delegating seems straight-forward. Yet the way in which you delegate to two different people depends on who you are delegating to.

I thought making homemade food would solve the problem. Yet I unintentionally served her foods that were not at all good for her system. What are you doing unintentionally that isn’t serving your team well?

Look at the bumps in the road as opportunities for further exploration. You might be surprised at what you discover.

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  1. Anna on January 20, 2012 at 11:23 am

    Great post.. Not that you need anymore data to add to your probably too long list to sort through but here is a link to a great article about Green Tripe.


    After having read it I am going to make a point to bring it back into my dog’s diets again as it probably would greatly help any upset wyatt has these days. There are quite a few places that will carry a frozen version of Ground Green Tripe. It may be a great addition to her meals even just a simple spoonful. I have seen amazing results with the coat and stomachs when I bother to add it to my pups kibble on a regular basis. Mind you it stinks, but to me the benefits of it outweighs the smell.

    With it being winter you may be able to get it shipped to you from somewhere too. Sometimes high end dog food stores will have a frozen variety too. Just make sure it is raw and not cooked in any way or you will lose the benefit of it.
    Good luck, and those muffins look lovely. Luckily Luna has grown out of most of her pollen allergies and wyatt’s stomach can handle most things in moderation.

  2. Renee on January 20, 2012 at 11:44 am

    Great post, Robin. Reminds me of how we, as leaders, (I’ll admit that I’ve done this, as well) sometimes hold fast to a solution or tool (a hammer!) and everything, all challenges, begin to look like they could be solved using that tool (a nail!). Your journey with exploring Grace’s food tolerance reminds me of when I went to the doctor for my own tummy challenges (is this too much personal info for a comment?? 😉 ). My doctor instructed me to start with illuminating foods — see what happens — then start to incorporate foods back. So, back to Grace and leadership and your question about what we are doing intentionally that may not serve our team well. Perhaps by stepping back, providing an open and clear space for the team’s own competence to show up and take action — without the interference of a hammer-wielding leader — may produce a clear way for new information and for their creativity to show up. To your point — perhaps we don’t know what we don’t know. Try going the simple, sans-tools, route and see what happens. Might result in less clean-up in the end.

  3. Rufus' Food and Spirits Guide on January 20, 2012 at 12:57 pm

    Wow, that sounds like a lot of effort, but you do take everything in stride!

  4. LeeAnn on January 23, 2012 at 5:00 pm

    Robin – wow, what an incredible dog mom you are. So is there a commercial (high-end) grade food that meets with the new criteria or will you still be making Grace’s food? I find this subject very stressful – as you can find such contradicting information out there. I have ended up with Natural Balance – and they have a new line which is even higher grade, I understand. Gracie likes it and does well on it. But I have read in some places that there are better options out there. At some point, is too much information a bad thing? I guess until you resolve the problem (Grace’s tummy issues), it is not. We have had a stressful couple of weeks as it seems that my Gracie has torn her meniscus, but is unable to withstand the anesthesia for the certain diagnosis or surgery. We are getting her quite a bit of glucosomine in the hopes that it may heal itself. Hope all is well with you!

    • Robin Eichert on January 24, 2012 at 7:12 am

      Hi LeeAnn. Yes, this vet identified three different brands (they may be more) that Grace can tolerate. What was so interesting to me is that I had tried one of the brands (Evo); turns out Grace can handle the herring formula, but not the one I tried. So even within brands, I have to be careful. But overall, I really like having a food that is nutritious as well as easy. There is definitely consistency in what I’ve read that handmade (or live) food is best, as opposed to dry (or dead) food. But at least I know what I’m giving her now is better than what she was getting and this gives me the flexibility to do the homemade when I can without the stress of making it all the time. It’s a great point you make, that sometimes too much information can be a bad thing. I guess it boils down to taking in what you can absorb, and then be sure to filter it, and make choices that fit within your lifestyle. One book I read on homemade food really emphasized the point that you shouldn’t do it if it’s going to be a burden in any way. And I agree with that. I’m so very sorry to hear about Gracie. I will keep her in my thoughts for quick and full healing. She is definitely a trooper and I bet Oprah is watching out for her, too.

  5. didiwright on January 31, 2012 at 9:29 am

    Hi, Robin…I’m following your quest to find the perfect food for Grace with a lot of interest, and I’m impressed at the progress you’ve made and the way you’re finding ways to overcome and solve any issues. I completely agree that the bumps in the road are essential for the learning process…I admire your resilience in spite of the bumps 🙂
    George says he loves the look and sound of those muffins…Maybe you could post the recipe on the blog? I’m sure other dog mums and dads would like to try it 😉

    • PeopleSense Consulting LLC on February 1, 2012 at 10:39 am

      Thanks, Didi. The hurdles in the food journey have been frustrating, but immensely enlightening. And I think that must be true with so many things in life. The more we have to overcome, the more rewarding it is. The muffins are really easy (a must for me!). The ingredients are 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour, 6 tablespoons of honey, 1 tablespoon baking powder, 1 1/2 rolled oats, 1 cup milk, 1 egg, 4 tablespoons olive oil, 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries (I substituted carrots and peas), 1 cup tilapia or bland whitefish (baked and coarsely chopped). Mix flour, baking powder and oats together, add milk, egg, honey, and olive oil. Then fold in fish and blueberries. Bake at 425 degrees for 12-15 minutes. Cool and serve! This is from “Dr. Khalsa’s Natural Dog: A Holistic Guide for Healthier Dogs.” Grace did love them!

      • didiwright on February 2, 2012 at 7:12 am

        Thanks for the recipe, Robin. I’ll make these at the weekend and I’m sure George will love them…If he doesn’t, then I will, as the recipe sounds absolutely delicious. I’m really excited about the honey that goes in these muffins, since I’ve often tried to give George a bit of honey (it’s supposed to be as good for dogs as it is for us), but he never wants to eat it. I’ll let you know how it goes x

        • PeopleSense Consulting LLC on February 2, 2012 at 8:56 am

          Through this process, I found out that applying a small amount of honey to the gums is helpful for dogs who experience a seizure. It provides support to the muscles that experience such a drain during a seizure. I know that doesn’t apply to George, thankfully, but found it interesting. Would love to hear if the muffins are a hit (yes, definitely could be good for people, too!).

  6. spiderpaw on February 3, 2012 at 2:27 pm

    Nice post Robin. I can’t tell you how many times Sheila and I have tried to figure out the proper meal for our two. Liver, chicken, beef. You name it. Eventually we figured out that they, for some reason will only eat when they want to. No matter how good the meal is.

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