Fresh Food Diets from SFRAW: Caleb’s Story

Thrilled to revive an exciting and worthy project that I first started work on in 2005/2006 and then “put on the back-burner” in 2007. Yes, it’s been a while.


I am honored to post Caleb and Shirley’s story as our first in a series of SFRAW member profiles! We will be sharing their answers to a series of interview questions that reveal the inspirational stories and interesting, insightful experiences of feeding a fresh foods to their animals, and being involved with SFRAW.

PREFACE (my original email to the SFRAW members about this project from 2005):

“I feel incredibly fortunate to be the leader/organizer of a group with such a wonderfully diverse group of people. We’ve got cat people, dog people, breeders, rescuers (and many breeders that do rescue), pet professionals like groomers, walkers, trainers, veterinarians, those who provide care for a large number of animals through a sanctuary, people with one beloved animal, those who feed pre-made, home-cooked, kibble w/ some raw, BARF, Pitcairn, prey-model, old-pros, newbies, giant dogs, tiny dogs, and those who only pastured-grass fed meats for health/animal-welfare/environmental reasons – the variety seems endless and I just love it!

This diversity is something very unique to our group these days. The tolerance/acceptance we enjoy for each other’s very different diet/animal lifestyle choices here seems (regrettably) rare from reading through some of the other raw feeding groups/lists. Many of raw-feeding groups have become, quite frankly, very dogmatic and sectarian. I very much cherish the diversity of people we have as members of SFRAW (group hug moment – awww!), and all the different feeding (and animal lifestyles) styles represented here. I think it would be instructive and interesting to experience/share this diversity in the written form.

To this end, I’m thinking of putting together a SFRAW book titled, Fresh Food Diets from SFRAW. This title works for everyone since, while we all feed fresh foods, not everyone feeds raw – some of our members feed cooked meals, too! Our book will profile individual members; describing their experiences with feeding raw, what kinds of dogs/cats/other animals they feed, what foods they fed, give recipes, menus, describe their feeding style, etc. I am thinking of organizing the book by sections that feature each member with a photo (of the person and/or their animals) with a short bio, Q/A section, followed by a contribution of their choice that best explains what they feed – be it a recipe, menu, list of favorite foods, statement with images, whatever. <snip>

I look forward to hearing from those interested in working on such a project. It would be appropriate to discuss this project on the list – so please send responses to the list for public discussion. – Kasie Maxwell, 2005 SFRAW Yahoo Group message”


AFTER: “Like a different dog!” Dramatically improved weight and muscle gains; noticeable change to his demeanor (he feels GREAT and is full of joy and curiosity); incredible improvements to his coat condition. He now has an impressively thick, full, smooth, shiny, healthy coat with a (totally different!) gorgeous, rich color. No more bald spots or thinning, dry hair. Here Caleb is pictured with his mom, Shirley, visiting SFRAW on 2/27/2016 — so HAPPY & HEALTHY!
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BEFORE: July 2015. Recently adopted photo shows Caleb before switching to raw. His condition was poor and as is typical of many rescues. Most common in Greyhounds is the bald or bare patches of fur along the flanks (“Bald Thigh Syndrome” or Canine follicular displaysia). He was also underweight, and the condition of his coat was thin/sparse, flaky, dry like straw, and dull. He didn’t feel good – while his sweet temperament always shone through; his vitality and energy were obviously depressed, especially compared to how he feels now!
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BEFORE: Caleb was in poor condition before the change to his diet.


Your Name: Shirley
Your Business or Vocation: Finance Analyst 
Are you involved in animal sports/competition or animal welfare causes? If so, please describe. I have adopted two greyhounds from Golden State Greyhound Adoption and attend meet and greets to let potential adopters know what great pets these dogs make. There are so many myths surrounding this breed but when people discover they sleep most of the day, they are amazed.
Species of animals you feed SFRAW foods to: Dog
Number of mouths you feed: one
If under FOUR animals: gives names, ages, and breeds (if known): Caleb, 3 YRS, greyhound

AFTER: Caleb is so incredibly handsome. Just look at his excellent muscle tone; rich, velvety color; and dramatic improvements in his body composition and skin/coat condition!



When did you join SFRAW? July 2015

What are the benefits of being a SFRAW member? For me, not having to worry about where the product is coming from. Knowing Kasie has done the due diligence in ensuring the product was sustainably raised with the welfare of the animals in mind. Knowing the product does not contain hormones, antibiotics, and additives. Peace of mind.


When did you start feeding raw/home-prepared foods? I adopted him in July 2015 with the intention of feeding him raw.

Why did you change from commercial kibble/canned to a home-prepared or raw diet? With my last greyhound, I cooked her meals and fed her kibble. She developed allergies and died of osteosarcoma at age 8. I had thought of feeding her raw but was too intimidated. When I decided to adopt another greyhound, I knew I wasn’t going to cook for the dog and I didn’t want to feed commercial food. I had heard and read about SFRAW and a friend encouraged me to go and talk to someone there. Drew was manning the register that day and he was so laid back about the whole thing. I remember after my first mentoring session, I thought, I can’t do this and Drew said, “you can make it as complicated or as simple as you want.” I felt the pressure slip away when he said that. Then I went home and broke down the process to make it work for me.

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AFTER: Just look at that incredibly thick, healthy coat — not a single hair missing anymore!

Where do you live (apartment, house, urban, suburban, rural)? We live in a house in San Francisco

Where do you feed your animals (crate, kennel, kitchen, placemat, outdoors)? That took some figuring out. I feed Caleb in the pantry which has a tiled floor. I lay down two pieces of cardboard (5’x5’) and a vinyl tablecloth (also 5’x5’) on top of the cardboard. He lays down on that to eat his RMB. I clean the tablecloth with vinegar when he is done. I initially used bleach but he will lick the tablecloth so I switched to vinegar.

Do you use dishes/bowls for serving meals in? His muscle meat formula is fed from a bowl.

How would you characterize your feeding style? RMBs in the AM and formula in the PM with healthy people snacks throughout the day (fruit, broiled salmon, etc.)

Please describe the changes you have made over the years/months in what you feed/how you feed it? I try to give Caleb different protein and cuts every day. I don’t want him to develop allergies to any proteins.



Describe, in detail, what you regularly feed to your animals:
a. Raw, cooked or both? Give percentages. He mainly eats all raw 100%. Sometimes I’ll give him a taste of cooked salmon, slice of cheese, etc but not enough to make a meal.

b. Do you ever feed kibbled or canned foods? In what capacity and how? I don’t keep dog kibble or canned dog food in the house so it’s raw or fast.

c. What types of muscle meat do you feed? Percentage/amt. muscle meat? He eats turkey, beef, and lamb muscle meat mixed in Kasie’s recipe. He eats RMB in the morning and muscle formula at night (55/45).

d. Which organs do you feed (including tripe)? Percentage/amt. organ meat? He eats tripe once a week. About a pound per meal. I will add liver or kidney in the formula mix if the muscle meat does not contain any organ meats.

e. Do you use any of the pre-made foods or pre-mixes? I started by purchasing the pre-made formulas then took two mentoring classes and have since mixed my own based on Kasie’s recipie.

f. Do you buy grass-fed, pastured, organic? If so, how frequently and why? If SFRAW is selling grass-fed, pastured, organic, then I am buying all of the above. I visit SFRAW weekly to pick up items b/c my freezer is too small but that’s going to change soon when I buy my big freezer.

g. Describe/list which cuts of bone you feed. Percentage/amt. bones? Lamb breast, duck wing, neck, head, feet, chicken back and feet, turkey neck, goat bones, salmon heads and fillet. I think 50-60% of his meal is RMB

h. Do you cut or grind bones, or feed them whole? I feed whole bones. Caleb is good about chewing although, he is a fast eater.

i. Do you feed:
 Grains (if so, which ones – cooked, soaked and how often)? no
 Eggs (how often)? I’ve read eggs are a great source of nutrients so will add some to his food but have not done so yet.
 Seafood? He eats salmon once a week and an anchovy or half a sardine every night except for the days he eats salmon
 Dairy (if so, raw or pasteurized, cow/goat, and how often)? I add raw goat milk to his vege mix and sometimes he will eat goat yogurt as a snack
 Herbs? I rotate the herbs on Kasie’s list in his formula. I add herbs depending on how Caleb is doing. If his stomach is gurgling, I’ll put in digestive healing herbs. If I think his skin/coat could use a boost, I’ll add skin healing herbs. I always add the anti-cancer herbs.
 Fruit? Bananas, apples, pears. Tried blueberries but he made a mess so no more unless I add into his formula.
 Veggies? Kale, chard, broccoli, parsley, carrots, sweet potatoes, celery, beets, zucchini, yellow squash
 Nuts/Seeds? Almonds and walnuts for snack. I add flax seed, pumpkin seed, or sesame seed to his formula. 

[editor’s note about nuts: do not feed dogs macadamia nuts, but small quantities of high quality, fresh/never moldy, organic raw/unsalted walnuts and almonds are a-ok!]
 Functional foods (carob, seaweeds, coconut oil, spirulina, etc.)? Carob, brewer’s yeast, kelp, lecithin, dulse are all rotated into his formula.

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Example of Caleb’s menu for a month.


Please provide a typical week or month’s menu, or one of your primary recipes. Please see attached calendar (January 2015 feeding calendar)

Do you feed supplements? If so, which do you use and how often? No

Do any of your animals have health conditions requiring a particular diet? If so, what do they get that is different from the others. Nobody is on a special diet

Any challenges you have had with this diet? If so, what? How did you work through these challenges? Caleb chews his food and LOVES it. No problems so far except for fasting days; he does not like fasting days.

Anything else you want to add? Benefits you have seen with this diet, why you feed what you feed, etc.? I don’t know what I expected when I started feeding him raw, but I never expected his fur to come in so thick and soft although it doesn’t surprise me b/c that seems to be the common denominator of all the dogs fed on a good raw diet. He has no dander. His muscles have grown too. He’s definitely not the scrawny creature I adopted in July. Everyone has noticed the difference. He’s alert and happy. I’m really happy with this diet.

Look at Caleb now!!  What you don’t see in these images is how completely transformed he is as far as his energy: how happy and vibrant he now is — his energy has changed dramatically! Caleb is SO incredibly happy when he visits SFRAW — he has gone from being a bit reserved and clearly not feeling great/low energy; to a prancing, smiling dog — full of life and just bursting with joy. Now Caleb glows from the inside out!

AFTER: Caleb at the end of his visit at SFRAW on 2/27/2016. He didn’t want to go — he loves visiting and we love having him. He’s so full of joy and looks so good; Shirley has done an incredible job with him and we’re so happy to see this transformation.

This is our goal and we LOVE seeing success stories like this.  Thank you so much to Shirley and Caleb for sharing your inspiring story with us.  Our hope is that what you have shared here may resonate with a reader and they will be motivated to finally make a change for their animals sake – to feed them better and improve their lives!

Thank you!