Hi, my name is Michelle Hutchison and this is the story of how I was inspired to start Doggie Delicious Treats & More.
In 2012 I bought a Texas Heeler Puppy (1/2 Australian Shepherd, ½ Australian Cattle Dog) for my Boyfriend, Sutton for his Birthday. I went to look at the litter, and was trying to decide between the 3 pups in my arms. As I looked down at the 3 pups I asked “who is going to be my protector?” The little pup resting in the crook of my right arm looked straight up at me and gave me the toughest little gruffy growl and I was convinced he was the one. He came home with me that day, he went without a name for several weeks as we tried to find the perfect name to match his personality. He was the sweetest pup, but yet displayed this rough tough guy on the exterior, so we decided to name him Samson. When he was about 4 months old, he had an episode where he became stiff and rigid and unaware of what was really happening around him. You might say he was lifeless. I was so scared, I rushed him to the Vet and they ran a few tests and decided he had gotten into something toxic. I disagreed as he was always with me, never left alone. At the time I assumed the Vet knew better than me. They gave him a shot, they called it an antidote to the toxin. By the next day he seemed fine. Then about a month later after playing with him he tried to walk towards us, he couldn’t, it was as if the mind was willing but the body would not cooperate. I picked him up and with in the hour he was stiff and rigid again, only this time his tongue was actually hanging out of his mouth. He looked at us with fear and despair in his eyes as if to say “Help me?!” I never felt so helpless in all my life. I called the Vet again, it was after hours but he met me at the office. This time they did additional bloodwork and testing, no shot this time. They sent us home to wait on the results, by the next day he was back to himself again. The Vet called within the next few days with the results of the testing to say everything tested out fine. They could find nothing that seemed abnormal. They called it Idiopathic Seizures, in other words, seizures with no cause. They did not offer any medication due to the fact that they could not find a cause. I asked if the seizures could kill him and they told me “No” As the months went on the seizures were consistent, he was having one about every four weeks, then they started getting more frequent, a couple a month, 3-4 per month, multiples in a week, until finally multiples in a day. It was heart breaking. This was all happening around the same time as The Big China dog treat warning was surfacing. My mind said “well they can’t find a cause for his seizures so, I need to do something to give our dog the best life possible. In that moment I thought can’t find the cause…well it will not be caused by what he eats. I started to educate myself, buying one of the best foods for him, adding in some raw feeding, and I started making him homemade dog treats. Friends would come over and see and smell the treats and started asking me to make treats for their dogs.
While all of this was happening, I was also on my own Health Journey. I had already had 3 Failed Back Surgeries, had been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, Rheumatoid Arthritis, and Poly Myalgia Rheumatica. So, with those 3 Auto Immune Diseases, one effecting the nerves, one effecting the joints, and one effecting the muscles, I was always in pain. My life did not have much purpose then, but I had this sweet little dog who needed my help. I was trying desperately to improve my Health without drugs or surgeries. I started researching on how to help myself the most natural way possible. Researching what foods I should eat, foods I shouldn’t eat. Supplements I should be taking, all the thigs that could help me naturally. While doing the research on the food part that is when I had the thought of “Wow! Why can’t I do this for Dogs? Dog treats that are all natural, without preservatives, and health beneficial. I figured if they are going to have a treat it may as well be beneficial to their health. So, I randomly threw a Facebook page up “Doggie Delicious Treats & More” That was in 2013. I got orders the first few days! My Boyfriend, Sutton says “What are you going to do if this blows up in your face?” I asked what he meant by that and he said “more orders than you can keep up with.” I replied “Look at you over there thinking I’m going to blow up, and I’m just sitting here thinking, Let’s see what tomorrow brings?!” I started with $125.00 and a very simple average size Kitchen Aid Mixer (which I already owned) I had 2 flavors Peanut Butter and Pumpkin. A dog trainer, named Barb Lefever came across the FaceBook page and called me. She said “Let’s get together and chat” So we did, and we clicked right away. It was as if God put her right in my path. We got together and I told her the story of our Misunderstood Pup, Samson. The challenges that we faced since he started having seizures and how our sweet Samson had started showing signs of aggression, however it was obvious that it was fear aggression. He was still sweet but had become very fearful of most people. He truly liked about 5 people. He tolerated me, even though I was the person with him most of the time. His “Human” was my boyfriend Sutton. He loved him more than anything or anyone on this Planet. Their bond was very special. Anyone else, he did not care for. He didn’t like other dogs except for one. He was afraid of trash bags, the sounds the coffee pot would make, laundry baskets, buckets, totes, the sweeper. Just random things. He loved the Kitten that we had found after a storm. Of course, we told him it was a baby, we actually told him it was “his baby” They loved each other and the Kitty whom we named Jumper began to even comfort Samson when he would have a seizure. He would lay as close to him as possible and knead his shoulders. My new Dog Trainer friend, Barb Lefever suggested I bring Samson to Doggie Obedience classes. I really couldn’t afford to do that and I told her so and she said “I did not ask you to pay, I asked you to bring him to class, and bring your treats I think people will buy them. We started classes and I took the treats and people did buy them. Samson did really well, I learned how to calm him, and boost his confidence. He was very smart! He could do many things and we were so very proud of his progress. We were also smart enough to never put him in a situation that would cause him or anyone else harm. We had a special leash on him to deter people from just walking up to him and trying to pet him. One side said “Nervous Dog” and the other side said “Do not pet” At one point my dog trainer friend said to me “be very careful, he is a huge liability to you” even suggesting that he should possibly be put down. Putting Samson down was not an option for us. We were dedicated to giving him his best life. A few years later my dog trainer friend told me she admired the fact that we did not give up on him.
About a month or so after starting the Obedience Classes my dog trainer friend, Barb Lefever gave me a name and phone number of someone in charge of a dog show in Medina, Ohio. She wanted me to see if they would let me be a Vendor at their dog show. They did allow me to come, it was very exciting and so therapeutic for me. All of the dogs, meeting new people, having a purpose. I was in constant pain all of the time, but this was workable for me. I made treats when I felt good, and I stayed on the couch when I did not feel good. When it was a couch day, Samson was always right there beside me. When he was having a bad day because of a seizure I was able to be right there beside him. We comforted each other. Our Samson was literally an arrow down a new path in my life. I began to meet many interesting people as I traveled from Dog Show to Dog Show selling my treats. When I would meet someone, they would often ask “How did you start making dog treats?” Then I would tell the story of our Misunderstood Pup Samson. While telling the story to one woman she suggested I take Samson to her Vet. She also said tell him I sent you. I followed her advice and we went to see “Doc” he explained to me how the seizure activity effected Samson’s brain and what would happen over time if he went untreated. This news made me cry as he told me; eventually, he would have a seizure that he would not come out of. This was heart shattering to me. We started two kinds of medications, one which was a real struggle to get Samson to take. We noticed however, that when I could get him to take that one he would be very lethargic, lifeless if you will. He just laid on the couch and really did not care about life. So we made a conscience decision to take him off of that medication. That was no life for him, he was not our happy, playful Samson. We decided we wanted him to have Quality of Life. We wanted him to go on walks, play in the yard, play fetch, go on hikes through the woods. He deserved to have the best life possible. The seizures had improved quite a bit, but still happening occasionally. We became very attuned to his actions and behaviors prior to a seizure. Many times, we could see it coming hours before it actually came. We worked through it. We gave our Samson the best life we possibly could. He was of course my Official Taste Tester of Doggie Delicious Treats & More. He loved it all. His very favorite treat was my Liver Brownies. I would take them out of the oven and put them on the board so I could cut them and let them cool. Many times, I would leave the Kitchen and when I would come back, he would be on his hind legs standing up, nose to the Liver Brownies and all I had to say was “You can look but don’t touch” and he never touched, he waited patiently until the crumbs would be put in his bowl, and of course he always got his own supply. It got to the point that when he heard me scraping the crumbs off of the board he would go sit and wait at his bowl because he knew he was getting those crumbs! My little dog treat business had gone from 2 very basic treats to 21 different offerings, including Soft Treats, Dehydrated Treats, Show Bait, Training Treats, Food Toppers, Fish Skins, Birthday Cakes & Doggie Ice Cream too. We even offer special treats for dogs with special needs, grain free, kidney disease, heart disease. I believe all dogs deserve treats, so I am willing to find whatever works for those dogs.
The whole mission of the company was healthy eating, foods that could be consumed that would be health beneficial. Unfortunately Samson had to continue to take the Phenobarbital but the vet had said he was metabolically perfect. I wanted him to stay that way. I could not change the defect in his brain, but I could feed him a lot of the same foods I was consuming to help my health. I personally did a 21 day food detox and as I added foods and supplements back to my daily consumption I would research the health benefits for dogs as well. It worked for me and it worked for Samson he very rarely had seizures and was a very health dog. My pain levels improved, other than when I would have an occasional flare up. Samson maintained a very healthy weight and lived a very active life. He never had any other issues until the time of his death.
In 2018 I took my mother to Florida to see her sister. While we were there Samson became ill, it was not seizure related. He was rushed to the emergency vet and they discovered that he had a blockage somewhere, he had to stay at the Vet so additional testing could be done. They were trying to figure out where the blockage was. They ended up going in surgically and discovered the blockage was between the stomach and the intestine. There was a Tumor. They said they could rebuild the stomach but not the intestine if they removed the Tumor. There was no saving him, he couldn’t live with the Tumor and he would not survive if they removed it. We had no choice our poor misunderstood pup would have to make the journey across The Rainbow Bridge. With this all happening so fast, I was still in Florida at this time. My Boyfriend, Sutton was with him and he called me so I could be there with them. I know this was not easy for him, he didn’t have to do that but he did. He just kept telling Samson he was a “Good Boy” and “Mamma is here” He put the phone near Samson and I told him he was the Best Dog ever and I loved him. Even though I could not be there in person, Sutton made it possible for me to still be there. It was devastating for us both. It was heart shattering.
I began to wonder “how will I ever make another dog treat?” It was my customers who convinced me! They said “How can you not? How can you not continue making treats? You must do it! You must carry on in Samson’s name, in his Honor.” So that is exactly what I did. I could not quit on my customers, the proof was there. Healthy eating helped. Supplements helped. All natural eating helped. It helped the dogs and it helped me. Many, many customers had told me how my treats helped their dogs. Several had told me when their dogs were reaching the ends of their life journey that it was my treats that encouraged them to keep eating. It was Samson who gave me Hope in my own Health Journey. It was Samson who put me on a path that gave my life purpose again. It was Samson who gave me comfort on my worst days. He really was a misunderstood pup. He wanted to love and he did it the best he could. We understood him and we gave him the best life we possibly could. Little did we know the impact he would have on our lives. To others he would always be the Misunderstood Pup, but to us he would remain in our hearts as Samson, the best dog that loved us the best he could. He will forever remain in our Hearts.
As I was writing this, I was over come with emotion so many times for various reasons. I suppose this was closure for me on many levels. I was not physically there when Samson crossed over The Rainbow Bridge, even though I was included over the phone I don’t think I ever got over the guilt of not being there for Samson or for my boyfriend, Sutton. Samson is in a better place now, running and playing and continuing to live his best life in Heaven. (Yes, all dogs do go to Heaven) As things would eventually evolve Sutton is now living his best life also, without me. But it’s all good, I’ve learned that people and dogs come into our lives when we need them. When we need each other. Now we all must face our Journey’s in Life with nothing but our memories. No longer cry because things come to an end…smile because they happened. I am living my best life with all those memories tucked into my Heart.