Treats Made with Local Ingredients for Your Dog's Inner Wolf
by Jackie Cobbs
Shannon Furr of Willits went on a mission to find her dog, Odin, a healthy food that didn’t contain harmful ingredients. She soon realized that if she wanted a safe option, she was going to have to create it herself.
Odin is a Bernese mountain dog that contracted parvovirus as a puppy and developed digestive issues as a result. “He barely survived,“ Shannon shared. “I had to figure out a way to feed him because he went through all these different foods from the vets and he was allergic to them all. Once a dog develops an allergic reaction, they start developing allergies to any little thing. It’s just a chain reaction.“
So Shannon spent countless hours researching and experimenting with ingredients, and she tried them out on her dog. She eventually created a freeze-dried treat of raw meat, vegetables, fruits, and herbs. Odin liked them so much, and his health was so improved, that Shannon decided to share them with the world, creating the brand Odin’s Organics dog treats.
Odin’s Organics contain game meats sourced from Mendocino and Sonoma county farms, including lamb from New Agrarian Collective and Inland Ranch, bison from J Bar S Ranch, liver from Wavelength Farm, turkey from Mendocino Organics, Rosie and Rocky Range Chicken, and rabbit meat from retired 4H rabbits sold by Lost Brundage Rabbitry.
In addition to raw meats, the treats contain plenty of fruits like cranberries and blueberries; vegetables including carrots, pumpkin, and kelp; and herbs such as hemp seed, powdered nettle, turmeric, parsley, and chicory root. All fruits and vegetables are local, non-GMO, and CCOF or Renegade Certified Organic. The herbs come from Mountain Rose Herbs in Arcata.
You may be thinking, “Don’t dogs in the wild only eat protein? Why do they need all the fruits, vegetables, and herbs?“ I was wondering this myself. But contrary to popular belief, wild dogs are omnivores, not strictly carnivores. Canines in the wild will search out grasses and fallen fruits, and “they would be eating the stomachs of their prey as well, which are filled with all kinds of fruits and herbs,“ adds Shannon.
Trust me, this lady has done her research figuring out what dog treats should and shouldn’t include. Odin’s Organics are free of dairy, soy, corn, sugar, and preservatives. In order to retain all the nutrition from the high-quality ingredients, she freeze-dries the treats instead of baking them. This gives them a shelf-life of 20 years and allows for the meat to be preserved in its raw form, which is closer to the diet of a wild dog.
Shannon, a native of Humbolt, spent much of her adult life in Sebastopol and moved to Brooktrails in Willits seven years ago. She is a certified nursing assistant, has studied herbs with internationally renowned herbalist Rosemary Gladstar, attended many herbal symposiums, and worked for Trinity Herb out of Sacramento (now Starwest Botanicals), helping them to write a guidebook of remedies.
In addition to the research and time spent perfecting the recipes, this local entrepreneur has spent a lot of time just learning how to run a successful business. She’s taken classes on finance, web design, Instagram, and Etsy. “It has been an intense learning curve. Every step of the way has been a challenge, and anyone who knows how to do it is in the business, too, and they’re not going to tell me anything,“ Shannon said. Becoming certified, printing the bags, figuring out how to sell the treats, and at what price have all been issues to tackle.
Shannon started selling Odin’s Organics in April 2018. “The first year,“ she explained, “I just did them at farmers markets because I wanted to find out what the dogs wanted—if they liked it, if I needed to change it, how to run a business.“
Shannon makes each treat by hand in a commercial kitchen located inside the Little Lake Grange in Willits. She works about 12 to 15 hours a day, seven days a week. So needless to say, her goal for the future is to have a few employees. Her five-year plan is to be in 200 stores and to own a commercial kitchen. She’d also like to create a CBD treat.
Her business is growing, and Shannon has had very positive feedback from customers. Her main goal is captured in her mission statement, “Giving Dogs Longer Lives.“ Shannon said, “I’m not out to make a fortune. I won’t compromise my product. There are people out there looking for the highest quality that are willing to pay for it. I certainly am. At this time I break even. If it remains that way, so be it. I will continue to help dogs as long as I can push out the biscuits by hand.“
Recently, Shannon expanded sales to retail stores, online sites, and dog shows. Odin’s Organics can be found throughout Mendocino County, including Harvest Market in Fort Bragg, Harvest at Mendosa’s in Mendocino, Rainbow Ag in Ukiah, JD Redhouse and Mariposa Market in Willits, and Geiger’s Market in Laytonville. Shannon still attends farmers markets weekly in Fort Bragg, Mendocino, Ukiah, and Willits. Online they can be ordered directly through the company’s website, www.odinsorganics.com, or from Shannon’s Etsy store.
When Jackie Cobbs isn’t wrangling words, she is busy running after her two boys, Henry and Marshal, and helping her hubby, Kale, complete their cob home.