Dignified Pet Services presents 'People in the Neighborhood'
An icon in the local pet community and widely known as a huge supporter of animal welfare, Heidi Liedeker is quintessential ‘Portland’ — all smiles, tats, and success. Her raw-diet specialty shop in NE Portland, 8½-year-old Meat for Cats and Dogs, has thrived from day one. “I’m amazed every day,” she says. “I’m glad I made a good decision.”
The 35-year-old Portland native grew up with one older sister “who was better at everything . . . straight-A student . . . musically inclined . . . valedictorian.” Heidi became a class clown, an attention-seeking child trying to find her own way to shine.
A lifelong animal lover, Heidi says life and business have allowed her to repay the lifestyle of her childhood dogs who “ate grocery food and didn’t get walked very often because they were untrained.”
Dreaming of becoming a veterinarian, she attempted college but found the large classes, lectures and subject matter didn’t suit her. “I learn better from stories and things that interest me.”
She worked as a bartender for the next 7½ years, during which her 5-year-old Rottie mix, Chevy, began suffering from lethargy, incontinence, skin and ear problems, and diarrhea. After many vet visits, Heidi finally found Dr. Jeffrey Judkins, then at Hawthorne VC, who suggested she try a raw diet. (Side note — Portland’s beloved “Dr. J” has since relocated to the Rogue Valley in search of sun, a slower pace, and an acre of land for his dogs to run on.)
“Chevy had been on good dry food, Simply Natural,” says Heidi, “but within a month [on a raw diet], her stool was firm, and her skin, energy, incontinence and ears were GREAT.” Her friends couldn’t believe she was the same dog.
“I’d go to work at the bar and talk about it. I’m sure my customers got tired of hearing about how small Chevy’s poop was, how easy it was to pick up, and how amazing she was doing.”
Providing the diet wasn’t easy; Heidi regularly went to three different shops to purchase the raw diet supplies. She found herself wishing supplies and information were more accessible.
Later, at age 27, Heidi was having the ‘what do you want to be when you grow up’ talk with a friend when it came to her: Portland needed a pet store focused on raw food. Around that time another friend, working with meat at New Seasons, showed Heidi his standing orders . . . for pets. She was impressed.
Heidi sought out Julie Cantonwine of Healthy Pets Northwest for advice. “She’s so great, so nice.” Julie said she thought Heidi’s idea would work, adding, “Please don’t move in next door — give it some space.”
Having just pulled money to upgrade her home, she decided instead to invest in her vision. Heidi found a space on Burnside in January, and opened Meat for Cats and Dogs in March. “March and August are special times for me for new things.”
Indeed. Last August Heidi opened the Meat Locker, a cart that’s an abbreviated “Meat” on N. Williams, which has paid for itself.
This fall, again things are happening. Heidi has purchased expanded digs for Meat, just across the street from the current location, set to open Summer 2014.
When asked what one thing about her might surprise people, Heidi paused before offering:
“I was a cheerleader in high school.”
At this writer’s surprise she replied, “Well, I’m peppy, right?”
Her all-time favorite film was also a surprise — “Pretty in Pink.” Why? She says “the soundtrack was fun, Duckie was great,” and she loves Molly Ringwald — she’s seen all her films. As for her fav, she says, “I’ve never been that creative . . . maybe I watch it hoping some of that will rub off on me.”
At this the universe laughs. When it comes to creativity, Heidi Liedeker’s got plenty.
Heidi resides with Andrew and their 3-year-old Staffordshire mix, Machine Gun Molly (adopted from MCAS), and 11-year-old Border Collie/Pit mix, Blockhead.
What’s a girl like this have on her bucket list? Retiring before she’s 60 . . . buying a house in the woods . . . living off the grid. Not too far out, though, she says — she’ll stay close enough to the city to volunteer at local shelters.
About our Sponsor
Dignified Pet Services has served the Portland-area community for 13 years. In addition to their core business of cremation and memorial services, Dignified co-sponsors the beloved annual Service of Remembrance, this year Dec. 9th at The Old Church in downtown Portland, as well as serving as wonderful supporters and friends of pets and those working in animal welfare. Proprietors Michael, Randy and Avani live in Sherwood.
Kristan Dael is a freelance writer and the alter ego of Jennifer Mccammon. She lives in Portland with her 3-pack, and strives to produce articles that inform, edify, engage and entertain.