The Portland, Oregon native’s foray into cooking actually began well before he ever considered writing a book. Several years ago Woodford’s beloved Belgian-Malinois/Lab mix Jackson was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer and given one year to live. His appetite waned and he was growing weak. Woodford began cooking turkey and vegetables to “lure him back to the bowl.” It worked, and as Woodford continued cooking all of Jackson’s meals he saw his friend grow stronger and more active. Jackson lived four more vibrant years, mostly cancer-free.
Woodford’s success with Jackson compelled him to cook for other sick dogs. He started Dog Stew, a home-delivered dog food company, and began teaching others how to care for and nurture their dogs with healthy, homemade meals. He eventually closed the business to focus on the book, driven by the passion to spread the word about the power of healthy nutrition, especially for dogs who are ill.
“The first reason I wrote the book was for the ‘Warm Nose Meals’ section,” says Woodford, “because when I closed down Dog Stew I wanted to make that information readily available. I kind of kick ass when it comes to feeding a sick dog, and they seem to do so much better on my food.” The key, says Woodford, is that he provides real food that dogs want to eat.
“I also wanted to write it for the ‘Foods to Share’ part,” he continues. “People tend to cook for their dogs when it’s too late and their dog is already sick. I’m hoping people will do it sooner, including things like vegetables and fruits in their diet.” Woodford speaks knowledgeably about how the body can absorb antioxidants and phytochemicals in a way that fights disease. “Those foods seal the deal on long-term health,” he says, encouraging people to provide variety to their dogs “right off the cutting board. Apples, carrots and green beans, in the right amount, are snacks too. It can be really simple.”
Woodford loves simplicity. However, while that’s exactly what he aimed to give his readers, the five years he spent researching and writing . . . wading through nutritional databases and veterinary manuals, and studying amino acids, minerals and vitamins . . . was anything but simple.
“I want people to be able to say, ‘Oh, this has five instructions and five ingredients — how hard could that be?’ In my [book] proposal I cited the two types of books currently available on the subject: very technical veterinarian books, and boutique books that say, ‘And this is how you make a sugary frosting for your dog’s cupcake.’ I’m like, ‘Oh no, no, no; you’re not putting frosting on a dog’s cupcake, you’re using mashed potatoes.’”