It's amazing that one little red, rescue dog could impact the lives of so many.
That dog had a lot to answer for.
Let me tell you her story...
The Introduction to Coco
This little red dog was born at the SPCA, then spent a few weeks in foster care where she got her name - Coco after Coco Chanel. How apt for this little princess.
She came back into the SPCA at 8 weeks and was quickly adopted.
Unfortunately (or fortunately for me) there was a major health diagnosis for a member of her adoptive family, meaning she had to be returned. This was when Coco left an impression on my heart!
I was working at the SPCA 3 days a week as Canine Carer, looking after both the puppies and dogs. One of my lunchtime routines was to take a pup out to sit with me while I ate my lunch.
Sounds like a recipe for disaster, doesn't it? Generally it was, but not with Coco.
She would sit perfectly still on my lap, watching the world go by, relishing in her solo time - while I ate my lunch.
She was a keeper! I didn't realise it at the time, but she had already chosen me!
The Catalyst For Change
During these happy lunch days, I was renting and I desperately wanted Coco. I asked the landlord if I could have a dog and he outright said 'NO'.
I knew this was the beginning of my story with Coco and not the end. So, that night I gave my notice and bought a house. We moved in, Coco moved in, happy families.
The fun and games began.
Training, teaching and lots and lots of walking. We discovered that Coco had male trust issues. Males of big stature, men in hats and those that were wearing sunglasses were all a no-no.
Hats and sunglasses shade the eyes making it harder for pups to get a read on a person - we always had to ask men to remove their hats & sunglasses
Coco was very particular. If she initiated the move to you then you were accepted. If she didn't make the first move and you forced yourself onto her - you weren't to be trusted and sometimes that meant for life.
In all my time working with dogs, I have learnt that it is always better to let a dog make the first move and not the other way around. If they want to meet you they will initiate - if they don't, then they don't.
Planting The Seeds Of Eezapet
It wasn't long after adopting Coco that she started presenting in rashes. they became constant and were always red, rashy, itchy and sore. Off to the vets we'd go, being prescribed steroid after steroid.
Coco wasn't my first dog but she was my first 'itchy dog'.
It was so stressful. The ever present feeling of worry, hearing the scratching, the licking, the legs thumping on the floor - you felt so helpless. I thought how do I stop my dog from scratching?
When choosing products for myself, I always select natural ones, so obviously I looked for a natural treatment for Coco. But I couldn't find anything that worked.
I thought 'really - how can that be?'
That's when the vision for Eezapet was first ignited!
We embarked on the journey of a, definitely stressed, sometimes feeling alone, allergy pet parent.
We discovered that Coco had multiple allergies:
- Ingestion - foods
- Contact - plants, soaps, cleaners, detergents
- Environmental - pollens, dustmites
- Fleas - flea bites, flea dust, flea eggs
One of the best things you can do to manage rashes is to keep a daily diary. That means writing everything down - where they went, what they ate, any extra treats, flea treatments, vaccinations, interactions and reactions.
All this can form a pattern when looking back.
Some things were easy to pinpoint. But, some were not so obvious to us. Coco absolutely loved going to the beach, but when we got home she would present red, rashy and itchy - every time. Regardless of whether she swam or not.
Foods were a biggy (but we've learnt a lot about foods over the years). Often, it is a process of trial and error to find what works.
We tried different brands of kibble. On one brand we noted her rashes were constant and she was vomiting regularly - this had a high wheat content. We eventually settled on a salmon based biscuit instead.
And we stopped giving her fabricated dog treats after a choking incident.
We researched all the ingredients for everything.
One thing Coco made me do and that was research, research, research.
Putting The Learnings Into Practice
We do the best we can for our dogs but after many years of research and my second, yes second itchy dog, I am now a huge advocate for a natural clean diet of raw food.
Coco was only changed to raw at 12 years of age but that last year of good clean food repaired her kidneys and made a huge difference to her life.
Coco helped me learn:
- what the contributing factors to allergies were/are
- ways to beat them
- how to manage them
- many tips to get you through
- and lead to the formulation of Eezapet.
A Solution To The Itch
Modifying your pups diet and environment will definitely improve their allergies and rash tendencies. But often, it won't completely solve the issues.
Which is why i knew that i needed to find something to combat the itches when they did present themselves. That's where Eezapet came into the picture.
From 2011 onwards, I'd been using the prototype of Eezapet on Coco. Made of all natural ingredients, i was amazed by how much it helped her.
So, time was invested into developing it further. Once the desired result was achieved, the word was put out to other itchy pet-parents to see who wanted to trial it. The feedback received was outstanding.
At the beginning of 2014, after we had collated our data, we officially launched Eezapet Original into the pet market. It became known as an effective treatment for animals that had itchy skin conditions.
Pups Love Eezapet
Coco LOVED Eezapet - and she wasn't alone!
She'd do this thing where she would come to me, stand and scratch, then plonk herself down in my path - rolling on her back to have Eezapet applied. She knew the Eezapet relieved and soothed her sore skin.
One thing we hear a lot is:
"Thank you for making a product that does what it says it does - relieves the itch!'
It makes our heart sing to know that we are helping pets all over the world, just like we helped Coco for all those years.
She never lost her love of Eezapet either. Even years later when her allergies impacted her less and less, if the other dogs were having Eezapet applied, she'd always have to have some too!
All From A Little Rescue Dog
If you think about it, Eezapet would never exist if it wasn't for the little rescue dog called Coco.
It's a pretty impressive legacy to leave.
But Coco was a pretty impressive dog. We had an amazing bond, able to communicate without words. She was always there for me and was definitely a soul mate. She even saved me from drowning once - and then would never take her eyes off me if I was in the water - lol!
Coco Left us on 12 May 2020 after a huge ordeal through lockdowns. It was a strange feeling at her death. I'd cried a billion tears leading up to the day but at the moment of her passing I felt a euphoric sense, an almighty rush of light and happiness.
It was very strange but to this day I still feel Coco sitting on my left shoulder guiding me. I am so lucky to have Coco come into my life!
Thank You Coco
We have a lot to thank Coco for and she will always be the original EezapetMascot. Without her, Eezapet would not have been born. In her honour at her one year anniversary we have planted a Nothofagus Fusca - a NZ native red beech for the red, rescue pup who loved the beach.
Who would have thought a little 'spca special' would have such an impact on me, the pet market, you guys and your pets.
Coco has led me to write many blogs on all things allergy - sharing tips to help you through. If you'd like to stop your dog from scratching then take a look here