Little Dog Food Lost

I am officially never ordering a single thing from PetFoodDirect ever again.

Over the last three years they’ve been my main source to get dog food and treats for Yara and in the last year I’ve had some major issues with them. I’ve gotten broken bags of food a couple of times and once ordered a 30 pound bag of food and got an 8 pound bag. Both of these issues have been handled, but each time has been increasingly more difficult to get resolved.

But today is the ultimate clincher for me. I ordered food last week and today wondered where this food was since it wasn’t sitting on my front porch today and it’s been well over a week. When I checked the tracking it turns out the food was delivered Monday, so I called PetFoodDirect straight away and the person I spoke with basically said they had to do a UPS trace on it and then and only then could they send out another bag of food. But either way I wouldn’t get a bag of food before Monday.

Well, to make matters worse right after I hang up with her I notice that the tracking says it was delivered to Albany . . . you know where I haven’t lived for more than two months. Now, I’m pretty forgetful, but even I know I’ve moved and I know that I changed my address when I ordered this food because I’ve been particularly paranoid about accidentally having things sent to my crazy former landlady. However, the order confirmation does have the shipping address listed as the old one.

So, I call UPS and they basically tell me they can’t do anything because they were told to deliver it there and thus they are no longer responsible. Fine. So, I call PFD again and while on hold I check my account, which is still showing my old address. I click to change my address and put in my new one and lo and behold when I click save, my old address is still showing. I say as much to the person who picks up the line finally.

But apparently a website glitch means nothing to PFD because not one but two separate people tell me that not only will I have to pay another $12 to have the food shipped again from Albany, but that my auto-ship account clearly has my old address. Not only that, but if the package isn’t able to be located, I’m out of luck and can’t be refunded the $50+ I spent to not get my food.

The thing that I keep stressing though is that this isn’t an auto-ship order. The auto-ship was created during the order that was placed. And moreover I seem unable to change my address because I keep trying to and the site still loads the old address.

Now, I admit that it is partially my own fault for not realizing the change didn’t take place, but what absolutely infuriates me is this same bag of food is being sold by PFD on Amazon for more than half of what I paid and what it’s listed for on their very website. WTF?

When I inquired about why I should pay another $12 for food that’s more than twice the price than Amazon I was merely told “the prices are different.” Which I don’t even know why I’m surprised because that nonchalant type of answer was basically the reaction I received when inquiring why they no longer offer a discount for guide dogs several months back.

I’m just absolutely furious.

Graduate Banquet

Meant to post last night to at least say that we had indeed arrived safe and sound, but instead I decided that sleep was more preferable. Which is not to say that I’m not bone-tired at this precise moment, but I’m hoping to alleviate the super huge post-vacation write-up post (or posts, as the case was last year).

Nerys lying on the kitchen floorAnyway, yesterday Yara and I headed off to Connecticut via the Springfield, M.A. train — as we did last December — since it cuts my travel down by more than half. It was, thankfully, a very uneventful ride. I sat across from some very adorable Latino children who melted my heart with the fact they were playing with DCAU Batman toys. I spent most of the trip watching Star Trek and then ended up falling asleep, while Yara watched the little kids intently the entire trip. Had the most friendly help at both stations, which was very surprising and quite a welcome change from most every other train experience I’ve had. I even got a tram ride to the station from the train at the Springfield station. Raechel and James met us at the station, along with Yancy. Both of the dogs were quite excited to see each other.

We headed off to Red Robin for dinner. Other than the crowd of smokers congregated outside the entrance, it was a very pleasant meal. Neither of the dogs seemed bothered by the other and we didn’t have any trouble with them. Well, unless you count Yancy’s habit of taking up ALL the room possible under the rather large booth. But Yara just squished herself into the remaining space and commenced with some more people-watching.

Yara, Yancy and Nerys playing in the kitchen; Nerys is backed into a corner with her paw raised upAfter we’d filled our bellies, we set off for the house. Initially, we had intended to have the puppies and Yara play, but since Yara had to have her dinner and it was so late, we just blocked off part of the kitchen and had the puppies playing by themselves while Yara halfheartedly ate her food. Nerys and Yancy are quite a sight to behold when they are playing; they really go at one another and they are LOUD! Yancy is really good with the little puppy, though, and she’ll lay down and just let Nerys crawl all over her and bite her.

Once the puppies had exhausted themselves a bit and we’d done the “take out all the doggies” routine, it was off to bed.

Today was pretty laid back. I woke up about the same time as James, who was doing the morning “take out all the doggies” routine. We fed all the dogs and Yara actually shocked me by eating all but a small mouthful of her food.1 This is even more intriguing given that I started the food transition this morning and mixed in about 1/4 of the Nature’s Variety Instinct Grain-Free Chicken Meal into her EVO kibble. Right now it’s too early to tell how she’s doing, but at least she’s not adverse to eating the new food. At least not as yet.

So, anyway, James went off to work and after Raechel and I had done our morning bathroom things and had our breakfasts we let the Yara, Yancy and Nerys play in the kitchen. Here’s a video:

Nerys was almost painfully adorable to watch during this playtime. She’s used to Yancy taking every toy she gets so to get the girls to play with her she’d go off and get a toy and drop it at one of the others’ feet or just hop up and down in place (“Play with me! Play with me! Play with me!”), but Yara and Yancy would mostly just ignore her in favor of playing with each other.

Yancy and Yara in front of the husky statue on the UConn campusWhen playtime was over we did some pedicures on Yara, Yancy and Nerys. I was very shocked that Yara was so very good about having her nails done and even Yancy was totally fine with it. Nerys didn’t seem to care much either, since I was distracting her with string cheese. She did end up biting the heck out of my thumb, though.

Later, we met James at UConn for lunch with both Yara and Yancy. We sat inside with some of James’s colleagues and had a particularly nice chat with one who has adopted several rescue dogs. Then, we headed over to the Husky statue to take yet another round of photos by it of the girls. After, we went back to the house to hang out for a bit before the Fidelco Graduate Banquet and, you know, “take out all the doggies” and the etcetera.

Raechel and James with Spock at the Graduate BanquetAt the dinner we were meeting up with both Patty and Tom, Yara’s fosters, and Ellen, Spock‘s new handler. We all sat at the same table, along with Ellen’s retired guide dog, Xoni, and her fosters Gail and Scott. Gail works in the kennel at Fidelco and is actually the person who orders Yara’s EPI enzymes. Both she and Des were very pleased with how well Yara’s looking. It was actually kind of funny, though, because Des also commented that Yara’s nails needed trimming since Raechel had just cut them that very morning. Oh, well.

The Banquet was pretty much like every other year. Ellen went up and got her certificate for “graduating” with Spock last June and there was a raffle for a bunch of different things. One person won a HUGE dog bed and all I could think was I hope they aren’t traveling far because that would be a pain to cart on the train along with a dog and luggage. The food was okay, but I wasn’t really hungry. I was pleased that dessert wasn’t cheesecake yet again, but birthday cake in honor of Fidelco’s 50th anniversary. All in all, it wasn’t a bad night and it was pretty cool to see Spock again. I know Raechel and James were very excited about that!

For now, though, it’s time for bed. By the way, photos will be sporadically uploaded to this gallery page for those of you interested. There’s already quite a few on there.

  1. If you’ve been around this blog for any length of time, you’re well aware of her refusal to eat at times. But whenever we’re away from home this “issue” becomes an absolute battle at times.

Natura Pet Products Sold to Proctor & Gamble

You may or may not have heard that Proctor & Gamble is buying out Natura Pet Products. But as I feed Yara EVO, one of Natura Pet’s brands, it was very unsettling news to receive.

Awhile back there was a lot of buzz regarding EVO’s new formula and while my personal experience is inconsistent there were a good many dogs that got incredibly ill after this change. I won’t say with any conviction that Yara’s few relapses the last few months arer caused by this — since she’s had inconsistent relapses before — but it’s not out of the realm of possibility. Whether this formula change is related or not, the sale to P&G is a major concern for many given their reputation for animal testing and the sordid history with the Iams and Eukenuba brands.

Given all that, I’ll definitely be switching Yara to a new food, which of course entails a major search for something comparable. The biggest hurdle in this — aside from the physical transition — is that as an EPI dog, Yara does the best on a lower fat diet and EVO is one of the few brands that carry a reduced fat variety of their brand. Certainly they are the best quality low-fat and grain-free dry food I’ve found on the market.

As it stands, I’m thinking of Nature’s Variety‘s grain-free Instinct brand even though the fat content is higher than she’s been on. I’ve been giving her the freeze dried raw as treats for over a year now and she’s done fine with that, so my hope is that she’ll have little trouble acclimating to their dry food.

Oh, well. For now this decision can wait, since I’ll be on vacation soon.

Grade Your Dog Food

Well before Yara was diagnosed with EPI — actually before I was ever partnered with her — I knew I wanted to find the best food I could for her to eat. Fidelco raises their pups on a raw diet and later transitions the dogs to kibble. While I’m a firm believer in the greatness of a raw diet, for many guide dog users — and me in particular — it’s inconvenient. So, I spent a good deal of time researching a comparable food and eventually settled on EVO. This ended up being perfect for Yara because they carry a reduced fat line of food; maintaining a low-fat diet is very important in an EPI dog, so this worked out perfectly for Yara.

Anyway, I was reminded of all this the other day on Twitter, when I saw this dog food grading test. My maths are pretty bad, but I came up with a score of 117. ;-)

Why is Nothing Ever Easy?

I’ve decided I really loathe Pet Supplies “Plus”. I can buy anything there, aside from dog food, and not have an issue. They stock pretty much any treat or toy I could possibly want for my dogs and the people who work there are surprisingly intelligent.

At least on any subject aside from EVO Reduced Fat dog food. The whole saga of this began months ago when I first found out that the fat content of Yara’s diet was probably part of her digestive issues. I didn’t have the luxury of waiting on Pet Food Direct to send me a bag, even though generally they delivery to me within two days, because they can take up to a week to send things out. When I called the local Pet Supplies I was told they didn’t carry the food, it had to be special ordered but that coincidentally an order was going out that day and should be in the following day. I requested a bag ordered, if possible, in that supposed shipment and also noted I’d be in later that day to pick up some other things.

Lo and behold on the shelf with EVO products was a 30 lb. bag of EVO Reduced Fat — along with a few other smaller bags! I yanked the biggest bag off the shelf and lugged it to the counter, guide dog in tow, whereupon I inquired why on the phone that morning I was told not only did the store not stock the food but that they wouldn’t have any as it’s only special ordered. I got some cock-and-bull story that it was only there because it had been specially ordered and the person must not have picked it up. I found this odd given the other bags and noted as such. One of the assistant managers overheard me and the cashier and explained that they were now carrying the food due to the high demand for it. All right then.

I have an auto-shipment account with PFD, so generally I don’t have to bother with Pet Supplies, but the account is set up based on my pay schedule and not Yara’s eating regimen so every few months I’m about a week off and inevitably I forget to order extra food and have to traipse over to Pet Supplies. Interestingly, every time since then that I’ve gone in to pick up a bag they’ve only had the 6 lb. size. I’ve noted this on each occasion I’ve been forced to purchase the food there and each time I’ve been assured it’s just a fluke.

Christmas Eve I noted that I was getting low on food and in an effort to avoid irritation I called Pet Supplies to inquire about their stock of Yara’s food. I was told they had a 6 lb. bag and that was it. I asked how quickly a special order for a larger bag would take to arrive and was told by the person on the phone, who went and checked with “the manager who places the orders,” twice that it would be in the day after Christmas. So, Friday I headed off to the store and there was no food. I was somewhat rudely asked if I’d received a phone call stating my special order had arrived, and calmly explained that I’d been told only two days ago that it would unequivocally be up front waiting for me. Said accosting person turns out to be another manager1 and she explains that this type of order would only ever go out on a Monday, period. That such an order generally arrives on Tuesdays — unless delayed. She continues to explain that she is in fact the person in charge of ordering dog food and goes on to admonish the last person I spoke with (and his father) stating he is incompetent and made this same mistake with the days orders would come in with other customers. She assures me that my order will be put in and should be at the store Tuesday or Wednesday and I should get a phone call when it arrives.

Yesterday I call, as I’ve heard nothing. I’m told they can’t find the order, but they do have a 30 lb. bag of food that they’ve put up front for me to pick up. I note that the weather is horrendous and I probably won’t come in until tomorrow (as in today). I’m told that would be fine, it’ll be there for me to pick up anytime.

Guess what? After standing in the cold for 45 minutes waiting for a bus and falling on a patch of black ice in their parking lot, I discover the store is closed today. The lights are on, but the doors are tightly locked and not a sole appeared to be inside.

I’m sure you can only imagine how thrilled I am.

  1. It should be noted that since first inquiring about EVO, I’ve now talked to five people who have classified themselves as managers and/or have told me they handle the ordering of products.