An American Trilogy
My visit to Missouri, Tennessee & Texas
People all over the world love their pets. No doubt about that. I decided that I had to see this for myself and to see if there were any developments happening in the US that might be applicable to our nation of Aussie pet lovers. So off to the midwest I travelled.
Home of Nestle Purina, the St Louis Arch & the St Louis Cardinals – and I visited them all.
Purina demonstrated why they are the largest pet food company and expertly showed me their products, their plans and their passions for pets. Purina’s lucky employees can not only bring their dogs to work but have a fantastic off leash park for their dogs to exercise.
- Purina Farms and Purina Event Center was a showcase for how to entertain pets and their owners. Here I could watch expertly trained dogs & cats, exhibit my own, try dock diving, agility and much, much more.
- Purina Farm photosPro Plan performance team
I also visited a couple of shelters in St Louis, both very different in their aims and approach. The Humane Society of Missouri rehomed unwanted animals and also provided health care to animals in the community, with a total of 21 vets working there. Enormous by Australian shelter scales. The St Louis Stray Rescue take in abandoned dogs and rehabilitate them. 200 noisy (waiting to be fed while I visited) Pit Bull and Pit Bull crosses, all looking for new homes is a sight to behold. Thank goodness for volunteers and donations.
On to Kansas City.
Looking for Toto
Purina have some of their production factories in Kansas City. I toured the Fancy Feast & Beneful factory. Let me say this is the cleanest factory setting I have encountered. And yes, they do use real meat. Just don’t tell my cats and dog I was here – they will be jealous!!
There is also a large research & development centre in Kansas City where Purina come up with new product ideas based on the science of nutrition & well being of animals. They do keep some animals on site (who get to sample food!!) and these animals are so well looked after, trained and enriched by the staff and a large team of animal behaviourists. If any cats or dogs are no longer needed, they are offered up for adoption and the prospective adopters are extensively interviewed and put through a selection process. Having seen animals kept in all sorts of conditions, through my work travels and routines, I have to say that these facilities were world class.
Walking in Memphis
Labor Day weekend and I was off to Memphis Anyone who knows me knows that my love after pets. is music. Memphis = music. Graceland. Live music. Blues. Rock n Roll. Soul. Sun Studios. Stax. Rock n Soul Museum. I did it all. And found time for the National Civil Rights Museum (the site where Martin Luther King was shot). A perfect weekend (well maybe a little too much Southern deep fried food!!).
Final stop – Austin, Texas
Carrying on the pet theme, I visited triple Crown Dog Academy in Austin, Texas, the largest dog training academy in the world. Here dog enthusiasts learn to become trainers, dog owners can have their dogs boarded or take them on adventure trails and everyone can buy lots of canine fun and occupying toys. I have loved their toys for years so it was finally great for me to meet the people who design them and who love dogs (and cats) as much as I do.
Dogs and cats mean a lot to people in the US. The downturn in the economy has been slower to reach pets and the pet industry that other aspects of life but it seems that people may not be replacing their pets when their lifespan ends. Sad 🙁
Dogs in cities can be very well behaved. Not only are they allowed to stay in most hotels but dogs accompanied the horse drawn carriages of Memphis. Every horse and carriage had a dog who accompanied the driver on long tourist shifts.
Entrepeuneurship is alive and well. Ideas such as the Three Dog bakery are thriving and dogs are loving it.
Philanthropy is also alive and well. People give to every cause that is dear to their hearts.