In 2012, my husband and I made the decision to open our hearts and home to a new puppy. After the loss of our first Great Dane, Abby, it took years to get over the pain and heartbreak. There is something magical about being a Dog Parent. The bond is like nothing you can ever imagine. They’re not just a dog, but a family member. They love unconditionally with no judgement. They sense our pain, frustrations, anxieties and happiness. They’re your best friend!
I was overcome with “puppy fever,” and obsessed with filling a dog shaped void in my heart. The process of finding a breeder was frustrating, but overall very educational. A little patience can go a long way, and after months and months of searching we finally found our perfect breeder, Heather! It felt in my heart and soul, like this was meant to be.
One of Heather’s females Jade was pregnant and due at the end of March. I was so excited, but the month-long wait was agonizing, I wanted a puppy now! However, this gave Cliff and I more time to prepare for her arrival. When you haven’t had a puppy in over 15 years you forget all the things you need to prepare for. We needed to find a vet that loved Giant Breeds and was knowledgeable about Great Danes. Having just moved back to Seattle we needed to re-educate ourselves on required vaccinations, licensing, the pros and cons of pet insurance, and feeding choices, to name a few. Having the extra time to prepare made the longest month of my life go by a tiny bit quicker. Finally, I got the phone call, Jade was in labor and my puppy was going to be born on March 21, 2013. I had my heart set on a Harlequin but I would have been happy with any puppy as long as she was healthy and mine to love and hold. Heather’s niece Sarah sent us pictures as the pups were born. Every pup was a Mantle. They just kept coming….and then…a female Harlequin was born! I was beyond excited! Tears of joy ran down my face and I ran down the hall to tell my husband our puppy Sweet Lilly had been born!
Three days later we were invited to meet Sweet Lilly and the other pups. It was love at first sight but, (yep there’s a but) our breeder Heather decided she wanted to keep Lilly as a show dog. My heart just stopped…now we had to choose another pup. So, every week we went to visit the pups, and we bonded with Lilly. I always held her first when we arrived, and last before we left. She stole my heart and we kept hoping that somehow, someway Heather would agree to let her become the newest member of our family. We visited the litter every Sunday over the next 8 weeks. Sometimes, dreams do come true Heather knew where Lilly belonged. Looking back, we never imagined how our life would change when this precious sweet girl came into our lives.
When we brought Lilly home she tipped the scales at 23lbs. It’s hard to believe when she was born she weighed 1.3lbs and could lay in my hand. Like most giant breeds Lilly developed stomach and digestive issues at an early age. I spent a small fortune on a variety of foods and treats but it always ended the same way. It seemed like every two weeks Lilly was sick with diarrhea. It was so severe that I was worried about dehydration and appropriate nutrient intake for a growing Great Dane. I was frustrated with the ingredients in so many dog foods and treats. I kept asking myself, “Why are there so many ingredients that add no nutritional value?”
“Why are there so many ingredients that add no nutritional value?”
For the next year I struggled to find a healthy balance of food and treats that Lilly could handle for more than a few weeks. I found myself spending more and more time reading labels and learning about the ingredients that constitute a well-balanced complete meal. I learned about the benefits of a grain free and a raw feed diet. A lot has changed in the pet industry since I had Abby. I’ve found that more and more people are aware of, and saying, “NO” to unhealthy foods and ingredients. They’re not just a dog, they’re members of the family! I knew the only option was to give it a try and make Lilly a treat I could trust. Most importantly I refuse to put anything in her treats that I won’t eat myself.
“I wanted them to taste so good, that I’d want to try them.”
I wanted a treat with no preservatives, grains, hormones, steroids, antibiotics, salts, spices or filler ingredients that add no nutritional value. I began with the one ingredient that she handles best, good old Chicken. But not just any chicken, I only use hand trimmed boneless chicken breast. Lilly is spoiled rotten, but what dog shouldn’t be! After she devoured the first batch with no issues I knew I was on to something. With loads of encouragement from my family and dog friends I took the next step, and so, the line of DROODLE products was born. After years of testing and development I can proudly say Sweet Lilly’s All Natural Dog Treats are something you can feel confident feeding your four legged family member!
Guaranteed Drools of Delight from the very first Bite!