Charlie and the Pet Food Factory
This story begins in a small clapboard house on a quiet street in an aging neighborhood. A light glows in the windows on an otherwise darkened street. Inside the house, Sarah and Ben are awake early. Their Shit Tzu Charlie makes sure they are awakened just before sunrise each day. Every morning, Charlie will leap on the bed, wag his entire body and attempt to snuggle between them.
“Easy boy – lets go”. Laughing, Ben rises to let Charlie outside to do his business, while a smiling Sarah heads to the kitchen to put on the coffee. Gazing out the window at the gradually lightening sky, Ben says “you know, I love that little dog – there isn’t anything I wouldn’t do for him”. In response, Sarah looks across the room at Ben with a wry smile, saying “it's almost like having a child to raise again – but he never grows up and wants to leave home”.
Later that morning, splitting a grapefruit at the kitchen breakfast table, Ben tells Sarah “I gave little Charlie a scoop of his food, but he did not seem too interested in eating again”. Sarah says nothing but goes to the cupboard where Charlie's food is kept, and returns to the table with the colorful bag. Reaching inside the bag, she withdraws a single kibble and puts it on the table, saying “doesn’t look like much of anything, does it?”. Turning the bag around, Ben says “well it says here that the number one ingredient is meat”. “I wonder just how much meat is in there” Sarah muses “you know we pay more for a package of hamburger than we do for Charlie’s food”.
Taking their dishes to the sink, Ben is non-committal, and finally says, “I’m taking Charlie for his morning constitutional, maybe that will work up his appetite – want to come?”. Distractedly, Sarah replies, “no I think I’ll stay here this morning and make some phone calls – I’ve got a water-aerobics class at the gym later”. Kissing Sarah on the cheek, Ben replies “we’ll miss you – I’ll have Charlie bring you back the newspaper”.
Charlie, hearing his name and the magic word “walk” is by now leaping and running back and forth from the kitchen to the front door and barking as if to say “hurry up”. Laughing, Ben says “OK, OK I hear you…..let’s get going” As Ben and Charlie disappear down the street, Sarah leans on the sink and watches them through the kitchen window. With a smile from seeing Charlie’s little legs going a hundred miles an hour to keep up with Ben’s long, ex-military strides, Sarah returns to the kitchen table, picks up the bag of food and says aloud to herself “now for some answers”.
About an hour later, Ben and Charlie bang loudly through the door “Honey, we’re home”. Charlie runs through the kitchen into the living room to leap into Sarah’s lap. As Charlie covers Sarah in kisses, Ben enters the room – “looks like he really missed you”. Saying nothing, Sarah places Charlie gently on the floor with a resolute look on her face. Looking up at Ben, she catches his eye and says “I called the company that makes Charlie’s food, and asked them how much meat is in there – you know what?....they wouldn’t tell me”. “Are you sure about that?" asks Ben. “Of course I’m sure silly man! – in fact I called five different pet food companies, and they all said the same thing – everything that Charlie needs is in the foods they make, they just won’t tell me how much meat is in there. One even said they are using twice as much animal protein as they used to for their foods, but still wouldn’t tell me how much”. Ben’s face hardens, and a steely look comes into his eye as he says “well I can fix that – we’ll just keep looking until we find a company that is willing to tell us how much meat is in there – until then, we’re going to cook up some meat for Charlie ourselves”.
A month passes by, then two months, and we find Ben and Sarah once again at the kitchen breakfast table. Gazing at the screen of her laptop, Sarah sighs softly and says “its my turn to make food for Charlie today….I just found a new recipe for dog food on the internet. This site said that 3% of pet parents now prepare their own meals for their dogs - that has to be millions of people”. Looking over the top of his newspaper, Ben says, “seems to me there’s an opportunity for a dog food company to make a dry food that they are not afraid to tell everyone exactly what's in it and how much. Too bad these pet food factories are all the same - I don’t trust a single one of them after seeing all of those recalls”. Wistfully, Sarah replies “well I wish someone would hurry up and make it - it was a lot easier when we could just give him a scoop in his bowl every day”.
The food Sarah and Ben are seeking is here for you today.