Janice Elenbaas

Cooking for Canines

   When Janice Elenbaas was growing up, she hated the smell that filled the house whenever her mom would pressure-cook a beef head as part of her homemade dog food. "I'll never do that," thought Janice. Little did she know that she would one day go on to found Lucky Dog Cuisine, a company that makes wholesome, all-natural food for dogs. (And no, beef head is not one of the ingredients.)
   "Our family's philosophy has always been to eat healthy, whole foods and be as natural as possible," said Janice, a former chiropractor whose practice treated dogs, cats and horses as well as humans. "That translates to animals as well. I just wasn't convinced that a processed diet was the way to go for my dogs."
   Janice likens a diet of dry dog food only to a human eating nothing but cereal for the rest of their life. Even more to the point, the quality of commercial dog foods often leaves a lot to be desired-and that's putting it mildly.
   "The pet food industry is a huge dumping ground for anything that's not fit for humans," said Janice. "They use everything from diseased animals, to tumors and abscesses, roadkill, and even euthanized animals, including dogs. The wheat and corn as well, they can be filled with mold, bacteria and toxins."
   Anyone who has a dog will probably cringe to read this, but according to Janice's research, it's the truth. It's been twenty years since she took matters into her own hands and started cooking for her dogs, and now she relies not only on experience, but exhaustive study as well. She has learned the correct proportions of protein and nutrients that dogs need to be healthy, as well as the best way to prepare the food so that it is compatible to a dog's organism.
   "Dog's have very short digestive systems, unlike humans who have miles and miles of the stuff," said Janice, whose product is now sold at seven different businesses around Bluffton, Hilton Head and Savannah. "Any food they eat has to be of good quality or it won't be absorbed; it will just be eliminated. That's why the volume of dry food they need is so much greater."
   So what are good quality foods for a dog? Well, basically the same as they are for humans. The four recipes devised by Janice may call for freshly ground high quality beef or turkey, brown rice, whole wheat pasta, barley, yogurt, ricotta cheese, cottage cheese, pureed vegetables, wheat germ, garlic, flax seed, filtered water, and even a few herbs. If you're thinking this sounds like a good entrÈe for your next banquet, you're not too far off; Janice's daughter once grabbed the wrong container out of the fridge, and the next day she and her friends at college were stuffing tacos and bell peppers with Lucky Dog Cuisine.
   "People have lost sight of common sense," said Janice, who routinely gets stopped on the street by pet owners wanting to share stories of how well their dog is doing on the new food. "But if you listen to what's inside, you will realize that opening a bag of food is easy, but it's not the best option. When you feed them good quality foods, their immune system is healthier."

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Toronto, Canada Came to Bluffton: five years ago
Hobbies: kayaking, exercising, cooking and eating Amount of Cuisine she makes per week: around 200 8-oz. packages Her dogs: standard poodle, George and two golden/poodle mixes, Murphy and Bugsy Recommended reading: Foods Pets Die For, by Ann N. Martin and Shawn Messonie Best place to let your canine try Lucky Dog: at Bistro 17, where Rex and Spot can order their choice of three different recipes on the doggy menu while you dig into some people food