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Episode 19: Interview with Sacha Packer

00:02:01 Glenn:        Welcome back to Natural Health for People and Pets. I'm co-host of the show, Glen Cooke, and introducing the host of the show, Narelle Cooke.

00:02:08 Narelle:  Hi everyone. 

00:02:09 Glenn: And we have a special guest on the show today, all the way from Western Sydney, Sacha Packer.  

00:02:13 Sacha:        Thank you, thank you for having me. Very happy to be here.  

00:02:17 Narelle:       Yeah, it's really exciting, Sacha. I mean, you're such an influence in the dog world and particularly what we're focused on in terms of dog nutrition and the raw food feeding aspects. So I've been trying to get you onto the show for quite a while now, but you are busy. It just hasn't worked out. But Covid has brought us together, which is awesome. So yeah, really appreciate you taking the time out this morning to chat with us.  

00:02:40 Sacha:       Seriously, thank you.  

00:02:42 Glenn:        You are welcome.  

00:02:42 Sacha:        I have to tell you, this is my favorite podcast. We go biking every morning, and you don't do enough podcasts to keep me entertained unfortunately, we need more. But this is my podcast.  

00:02:53 Narelle:        Glen is at me all the time. He's like, you need to do a weekly one. I just don't have the time to pull the information together every week. That would be my full-time job, just podcast prepping. So I know it is the long-term goal to try and get them out a little bit more often, let's just see. 

00:03:08 Glenn:       Narelle will not do one of these unless she studies for a week on subject matter, she needs to get all her scientific data out. 

00:03:16 Narelle:       Giving away all my secrets.  

00:03:18 Glenn:        Well, it's just that she just doesn't like to go on air without fact checking what she's saying, she's so meticulous about things like that. Yeah, I live with a perfectionist and that's the problem is that unless she has data prepared herself, she will not get on the air. She'll just say, I haven't got the cross references here, I haven't got the peer group studies, I'm not going to do it until I've found all the facts, so I'm not shooting myself in the foot. Which I appreciate, because there's oftentimes where podcasters will get on the air and they'll have an opinion on something, but it may not be correct. So it's nice when people do take the time, and do care enough to release information into the community that's actually more accurate than less fact-based.  

00:03:56 Narelle:        Yeah.  

00:03:57 Sacha:        What we love and you know, we'll probably talk about it a little bit later in my own fresh food eating group, we're very fact-based. So I like to have those sources. If I've got podcast notes that I can go back and I can have a look at the study. I love that.  

00:04:10 Glenn:       Let's talk about that actually, because that's a huge thing, your online Facebook group and the size that the community has actually grown to. So I think we should probably just kick off on how you got started on that.   

00:04:25 Narelle:        Yeah. I mean, I'd love to hear your bigger backstory. So we will go to that 'cause I love to hear how you got to where you are today, especially with the Facebook group. So tell us about your Facebook group and how many members you're trying to manage on a daily basis.  

00:04:37 Sacha:       It's a lot. It's currently, I think we just tipped over to 55,000, which is huge. Mostly Australian, which is our goal because I think when you're trying to manage a group and you are from a country, you tend to vibe with the people from your country. You have that certain communication style, whereas people from other countries, whether it's because of a language barrier or just a cultural difference, they can tend to communicate in a different way. And sometimes that's not always the vibe that we have. So we like to be mainly Australian, and I think that also comes from when I was spending time in raw feeding groups. People would talk about brands and places and all these different things. I'm like, that means nothing to me. Someone talked to me about something local, like, you know, in Blacktown in Sydney, where can I find, you know, a supplier?  

00:05:17 Sacha:        So that's why it's really important to keep it mostly local as well. But where it all came from was that we were seeing in these raw feeding groups that people who were feeding a hybrid diet, being dry food plus fresh food, were getting a really hard time. Because I think when we come to any kind of community, but largely before feeding community, there is extremism. So there's often extremism if you can only do it one way, so you can only feed a hundred percent fresh, otherwise we're not talking to you about it. And we found that those people were being really put off fresh food feeding because nobody would tell them how to add fresh food to their already kibble based diet. So we really wanted to bring those people in and to really hold their hand through this initial stage of just introducing them to fresh food.  

00:06:02 Sacha:        And then, you know what, six months, a year, two years down the track they may ditch kibble completely. So we really wanted to look after those people. And then I found my little bestie, which was Brittany Young. She's my other little cool chick that manages the group with me. And I actually watched a video of her online one day and I was like, oh, I really like this chick. Like, we're on the same page. We vibe. She's funny. I call her a bit of a bogan, I think she's hilarious and we just got together. We just started chatting about stuff and we were just on the same page about pretty much everything. I'm like, let's come together and just run this group and let's see if we can turn more people onto feeding a healthier diet.  

00:06:43 Sacha:        Let's see if we can plant seeds rather than really kind of bash people into it. And here we are. I think it's like two, two and a half years later, 55,000 members growing and they're not following us. I mean, we're nothing to them. What they're following is this idea and this concept of doing the best they can for their dog. Because I think most people are like me and you. It's that when we're holding our dog and we're euthanising them and we are saying goodbye for that final time, it's like, we want to know that we did the best we could with the information that we had at the time. 

00:07:16 Narelle:        So the name of the group fits in exactly with what you've just described, is Fresh Food Feeding For Dogs - Kibble Feeders Welcome. You couldn't have made it more obvious that you are all inclusive of the type of dog owner and what they're feeding, that they are welcomed  into the group to learn more. Because it isn't all or nothing. You don't go from a hundred percent kibble to a hundred percent raw overnight. So that's great. And the vibe of your group.  

00:07:37 Sacha:        The vibe. Look, mostly it's on point. It's a very highly moderated group and I think it has to be when you have that many people, and you are talking about the subject that is so broad and so complex as well, is that we are a niche group. So we are a BARF group, so that is based on ratio feeding. It's not a fit for everybody's situation, but we're like, this is what we talk about. This is what we promote, and this is all we are really talking about in this group. Whilst this is not the only way to feed a fresh food diet, this is the way that we talk about here and so we need to manage that to keep on point. Because things like a whole prey based diet might come up, and that's not something I'm particularly educated in. I can't really give educated feedback for that. But a BARF ratio diet, that's something that's been in my life for about 20 years and it's something that I've evolved over time to really understand and really test with hundreds of foster dogs. So it's something that I feel very comfortable communicating with.  

00:08:35 Narelle:        That's a really good segue to go back and to talk about how you did get started with the raw food feeding with dogs, with you know, the work that you're doing now and with the foster. So if you wanna sort of go back to the beginning and let the listeners know where your journey started and how you started.  

00:08:50 Sacha:        Yeah, right. I'm, look, I'm a walking cliche. I was adopted into a family who had a dog and it was just all downhill for a bit. My parents, when they adopted me, I was just a toddler. We had this, I think she was a spaniel cross Labrador. Man, I was evil to that dog. I would dress that dog off and cut dresses off her because they were too tight. And she was my entry into the world of dogs and I loved her. And I think, although I probably wouldn't have realised it as a younger person, but someone who's in their forties now and kinda look back with hindsight, when you're adopted, especially as a child that actually understands what's going on around you, a dog isn't gonna abandon you. A dog is that safe and secure thing in your life that you can always be with, you can chat with, you know, you can take foot walks and all these things.  

00:09:37 Sacha:        And so, especially through my teenage years where I was kind of angsty, I had a dog at the time, which was a Labrador Cross golden retriever, I think. And that dog was my world. I went everywhere with that dog. And I think without having that dog, I think being a teenager would've been incredibly hard. So dogs have always been in my life. And we moved to Australia and we lived in apartments for a while 'cause we couldn't afford a house. And we ended up getting our first dog, I think I had about three years after moving to Australia, and that was Lila, our very first Great Dane. And she changed everything. Because when I was growing up, we fed, I think tinned pal because that's what you fed dogs back then, right? And scraps and stuff like that. We didn't feed kibble. Kibble wasn't what you fed back then.  

00:10:21 Sacha:       It was tinned food, you know, probably 50 cents a tin kind of thing. And then when I got Lela, I was trying to be the best pet parent that there ever was. Like I was gonna rock this pet parent thing. And so the first thing I did is I went down to, I think it probably would've been Pet Barn at the time and I got a kibble from a leading brand for giant breeds. And I was like, yeah, we've got this. And then I was hanging around in the Yahoo groups, people who are old enough to understand what those are, you know, pre-Facebook. And then I started to learn a little bit more about nutrition. I'm like, oh my God, this is not like the best thing for her. I have a breed that is really short-lived and I'm feeding her something that is not probably gonna contribute to her having, you know, the longest life she possibly can.  

00:11:07 Sacha:        So we just started to, you know, make little changes as we're learning. What I fed back then is nothing like what I feed now, but it was what I had, with the education I had at the time. And Lela died just short of her 14th birthday. So I was like, yeah, yeah, yeah. She probably had really resilient genes. She had great genetics. There were so many variables to her long life. But I definitely think getting her onto a fresh food diet quite early in her life and pairing that with all the other cool things that we can do for dogs, with enrichment and exercise is a real game changer for her. And being a great Dane that sometimes don't even look to seven. So that was my foray kind of thing. Then we got another Dane, and this is where things started to change even more.  

00:11:50 Sacha:        I got him home at I think 11 weeks of age. Oh my God, this dog was pink. He was self mutilating. The worst allergies. It was just horrendous. And this was the dog that died at five after his second block of surgery. He was the most compromised dog they'd ever had. And I was like, how can I make this dog better? When you buy a great Dane from a breeder, they will usually say to you, you need to feed this, this, and this. We know our lines best. You need to do this. And even though we had gone into fresh food feeding, I was like, well, they know best, right? This is my first pedigree dog, this is my first show dog and I'm gonna do everything they tell me because they know best. Well it didn't work that way, and so I started to investigate more about allergies and how nutrition could work into that.  

00:12:34 Sacha:        And you know, we did the best we could at the time for this dog. And I hope that what I did for him gave him a better quality of life that he would've had if he was just on a dry food diet. And every dog since then has brought me a new challenge, because that's what dogs do. And then we've been fostering for a long time anyway. We'd always usually had one foster dog in and there was always this problem child. I'm always drawn to them. And I think it comes back to if you are a rescuer, I know probably people in rescue probably don't think like this, but I have a different frame of mind. When you rescue a dog and you work as a foster carer, you are not really trying to save that dog.  

00:13:11 Sacha:       You're just trying to save yourself. There's just a different way of rescuing yourself and giving yourself, you know, the therapy that you really need. You don't realise that you're doing it. But we're always attracted, and I'm still attracted to this day, to the ones that need more help. Because I love their story. I love their journey. I love that people can see these, what I call little street kids, which are crosses or crosses or crosses. You know, they come through and they look terrible, they're emaciated, or they've got rickets and all these different things. And you can show people what amazing journey that fresh food can give to these dogs. And using my platform as well, which is a fairly good one, I can help find a home pretty quickly for these dogs too. So I like, I mean, in the last year or two years, we've had some pretty special cases come through as puppies.  

00:13:57 Sacha:        I love those cases. I love the journey and I love sharing the journey, but it teaches me something new every time. When we had rickets, not that long ago, we could kind of play with things a little bit because even though there might be two studies out there on rickets and dogs, they both said the complete opposite. And so we're like, okay, let's kind of go with a gut feeling here and let's kind of try and see how we go. And now my experience with that dog now helps guide people and other rescues with the dogs that they get that have rickets as well. So it's a cool situation.  

00:14:30 Glenn:        I just wanna circle back to that Sacha, 'cause I think that was a really important statement that you made earlier on. Where when people are rescuing, they're actually rescuing themselves. I think that's probably one of the best things I've heard for a long time, because it's a really honest and accurate depiction of what actually happens a lot in rescue. It probably doesn't happen all the time, but it does happen a lot . Sometimes people are so hurt inside because they've had early childhood trauma that they've been going through. And I tend to relate it to a lack of being able to control what's happening to you and what's happening to your surroundings. And then when you have the ability to control it yourself, you feel like you've been able to mend something that you've been very out of control with in your past. Like I profess to everyone, I'm not a psychologist and I don't try and psychologically help people, but I'm interested in conversations like that because I do think that's very relevant in this space.  

00:15:25 Sacha:        I think dogs in general, whether you're a rescuer or not, whilst it doesn't sound like a very nice thing, we control dogs. It's that simple. We control them and sometimes we like that. We like to have that control, whether we, you know, connect with what we're doing or not is completely different. But unfortunately, and I think most people would be aware who are kind of involved in rescuers, that mental health challenges within the rescue organisations is a thing. There are people that then become hoarders and so forth and it can be a really problematic situation. I ran Great Dane Rescue for around about 10 years, and I stopped because of compassion fatigue. One year, sorry, one week I had to put down four great days. Like I'm tough. I'm not that tough. You know, because when you're a rescuer, you have to make really hard decisions.  

00:16:13 Sacha:        A giant breed dog who's human aggressive, is not a dog that you fix, that's a dog you manage. And one day, management might go wrong and someone ends up in the hospital. And it happened, it happened to one of the dogs that I rescued, a really, really sad case. Horrendously neglected and abused dog and ended up going back to the breeder. And I did specify, you know, just let this dog settle in and decompress and let's see who the dog is. They ended up placing it with someone who'd bought one of their dogs before. The dog took down a kid by the head and put 'em in hospital and after that I was just like, whew, that's a lot to unpack. And you know, even just recently I had a little dog, his name was Barry, he's a Pomeranian Cross, he's 10 years old. I  

00:16:56 Narelle:       I saw Barry's story.

00:17:00 Sacha:        Barry, Barry is hard work. But when we look at sort of mental health challenges within the rescue sector, you see dogs like Barry and people just wanna save them all. They're like, oh, you know, this is this damaged little dog and we just need to save him because you know, people don't wanna euthanise dogs. And so we end up with hoarding situations, and then people's mental health really, really gets affected. And I just said no to that. I was like, when I felt that my mental health was being affected by euthanising so many Danes, I was like, I'm done. I'm not doing this anymore. I need a break. And then I just started rescuing cross breeds. I was like, I love my little cross breeds and I don't mind, I mean, I've got a pedigree Great Dane right now, I'll probably always have a pedigree dog in my life.  

00:17:42 Sacha:        But I was just like, these little kids they usually come in as puppies, they're super ugly. Like let's just be honest. They've got a really short window that they can be adopted in because outside of that, probably 12 to 16 weeks, these kids go ugly and nobody wants them. They are brindle little bully cross breeds. And they're really hard to place. So what we do, we take them in, we get them going really, really good with what they look like. So they're healthy, they're happy. But then we put a lot of training into them, because trying to adopt out a little cross breed that just looks like nothing interesting without any training whatsoever or anything, you know, kind of a point of difference is really, really challenging. So that's kind of the cool thing. You know, you're taking this little puppy, then it, sit drops, stands, it does all these tricks. It can walk really nicely on a lead. It's not gonna bug you when you're eating dinner. Those are the dogs that get adopted. So that's a cool thing that we do. And we've got one coming in today. We've got a really sick puppy coming in today. I don't know what the deal is there yet, but we're ready and waiting.  

00:18:48 Narelle:       Oh, you're doing amazing work, Sacha, so hats off to you for that. Was it the Great Danes that sort of got you into the line of work that you're doing as your profession now? If you wanna talk about what you actually do and the name of the business too.  

00:19:01 Sacha:        The company is called The Balanced Canine. And the balance section is not just about body, it's about body and mind. So even though I'm not a trainer or a behaviourist in my line of work, I deal with a lot of behavioural issues because these dogs need to be handled. These dogs are often poorly bred dogs that are bred for a purpose. So we're seeing a lot of dogs coming through in the space of Koolie's, Kelpies, Border Collies, and the mixes within those that people don't understand enough about drive, so they're seeing what they believe to be these really high drive dogs. But yet it's just this nervousness and this nervousness then turns into something that can become really dangerous. And a lot of the work that I do here is with performance dogs mostly. So I do nutrition, I do their body work and I do their fitness.  

00:19:49 Sacha:        So we use conditioning, which people would probably see as things like inflatable equipment, like inflatable peanuts and fit bones and things like that. Kind of like physio kind of stuff, but how I use it is we turn it into a behavioural thing. So a dog who's put on conditioning equipment has to have really solid foundations. They can't just jump on equipment 'cause it's really dangerous if they just go crazy on it. It's not toys, it's not fun, it's not play. It's really serious work. And we take that control, creating a little bit of stress and then helping them feel that they can come through that stress, and just showing the self-control that they can get through things themselves. They can feel a change of emotion themselves. And then they become a more balanced dog, or balanced physically, more balanced emotionally so then they can go on in life. They can compete in agility or IPO or whatever it is that they need to do. And they can be balanced. Because if you're not balanced mentally and physically, then you are really dangerous out there, no matter what you do. You might be an agility dog that just plows through jumps because it just, it just lost its mind, you know? Or you could be an IPO dog that could put itself in a really dangerous situation because it's not thinking of what its body's doing when it’s jumping over a one metre jump or something like that and takes it out 

00:21:06 Narelle:       It sounds like Ladybug  

00:21:07 Glenn:       It sounds like Kristen's dog. Yeah, Blue.  

00:21:11 Sacha:       Oh, that's a cool dog.  

00:21:13 Glenn:        I know that Kristen and Blue have gone to you as a client.  

00:21:17 Sacha:        Yeah. So as a baby puppy we saw Blue. So showing her how to use her body, which is really interesting when we have little baby puppies and we're showing them how to use their bodies, every time they have a growth spurt, they're like, I don't know how to use my body anymore. So it's like having to go back and go, okay, remember how we do this? You know, how to be calm and collected. Because when you're a Malanois, and you are probably gonna be a pretty intense adult, and you are going to be doing some pretty cool stuff. And if you don't have mental balance and physical balance with your body, and understand how your body works well, you could be problematic to yourself and you might wanna have pat insurance.  

00:21:53 Glenn:        Mm-hmm.  

00:21:54 Sacha:        Yeah. So I guess to just cycle back on that, Lela was my very first Great Dan. She was what brought me into this business, because whilst we couldn't get a diagnosis on her condition, Danes do this thing that we call, oh, they lose their back legs as they get older. Like they just can't stand up, like the high quarter goes on them. So what we know now is that there's two conditions that are mainly affected in that. Degenerative myelopathy and also what Gavin has, which is IVDD. So two conditions that affect the hind quarter. Now, I wasn't in the business at the time when Lela was going through this and I was seeing all different people, nobody could help her. I was like, right, I'll train myself. I'll start this whole process and I'll save her.  

00:22:39 Sacha:        She passed away before I could even get a decent way in my studies. But she was the first one that got me set on this track. So I did acupuncture as my very first modality, which I don't do anymore. And then I did just body work, then adjustments. And I just kept adding things until I felt like I had this really nice kind of balance routine that I could see was getting results with dogs. And then we start adding these other little bits and pieces, and now I kind of sense what I do as more of a holistic thing. Although I don't kind of like that word too much. But you know, really looking at a dog from all sides, to go, hey, how's your fitness going? Because fitness is really important regardless of if you're a couch potato or not. You know, how's your nutrition going? Because everything starts with nutrition. You know, how's your brain? All these things come together. You can't just come here and get an adjustment and then go do agility and think everything's gonna be fine. If you're mentally not fine, then you know it's a problem.  

00:23:33 Narelle:        Yeah. What I love about the work you're doing is people are very reactive. So it's not until something goes wrong with their dog that they think, oh, maybe I should do some conditioning, do some therapy type work, or, you know, get some treatments. I mean, we are in that boat, It wasn't until Ladybug hurt herself that we're like, oh, we better look into laser and acupuncture and all these things that as a human, you know, I see my chiropractor just to maintain good structure. Yet a lot of people for their dogs, they don't think to be,  

00:24:00 Glenn:        They’re reactive instead of active.  

00:24:02 Narelle:        Yeah, they're not proactive in preventing anything from happening. They just react. So I love that you are working with both. But you know, you do promote healthy dogs to come in and improve their condition and make sure things don't go wrong. Particularly for those working breeds that are just crazy active.  

00:24:18 Sacha:        Off their chops. Yeah. You get dogs that are, are a lot. But the thing is, I think we're not that far removed at the moment from still thinking dogs are just dogs. So when people ask me what I do, it's a really hard discussion because you're like, if you're not a dog person, you're gonna be like, this lady is crazy. Like, people pay you for that. You're like, yep.  

00:24:42 Narelle:        I still think my parents think that about me. My mum will be like, what do you do? I'm like, I've got a dog client today. And she's like, really? I'm like, yeah.  

00:24:49 Sacha:        Will you get a real job Narelle <laugh>.  

00:24:51 Glenn:         I openly talk about it on The Canine Paradigm when my Nan who you met before. My grandmother was a very matriarchal, domineering sort of lady.  

00:25:00 Sacha:       I remember this and she does not approve of you being a dog trainer 

00:25:03 Glenn:        She did not. No, she did not. Because she was very societal and she believed that was completely beneath the family for me to be a dog trainer. And she thought that only Gypsies and Carnies are dog trainers. So absolutely horrified when I rocked up on the door and said, I'm changing careers. I'm leaving the electrical trade to become a dog trainer. And she thought that was absolutely disgusting. But she warmed to it over the years. She kind of saw it blossom as a career and she saw that I got credibility in the community and she kind of liked it after a period of time and saw that I was happy. So it was a bit of a funky story to start with, but she was supportive towards the end.  

00:25:39 Narelle:        Dogs still are sort of considered as dogs, but I mean, I think you and I and Glen, with the work we are doing, we are seeing that shift happening I think, quite quickly. And I think going forward, it is gonna be a real paradigm shift in the way people view their dogs as not just dogs, but as you know, family members.  

00:25:56 Glenn:        It's happened.  

00:25:57 Narelle:        Well I mean, it has happened. It's happened. And particularly with your Facebook group, I mean, to have 55,000 members, I think nutrition is the easiest place for people to start when they're trying to do better for their dog. And I think the physical conditioning work, I think that might be a slower step for people to take to understand.  

00:26:15 Sacha:        Oh absolutely. I mean, we don't even do it ourselves, right? Like, if it wasn't for me trying to achieve this goal of doing the endurance trial with Ginger, I'm not gonna be on a bike. Like why would I do that to myself, you know? So I always kind of think, hey, if you don't have a dog, what's making you exercise? Like, what's forcing you to get out there and even just walk for 20 minutes. So we are very much in that kind of lifestyle, aren't we? That we really don't exercise that much. So when we look at our dogs and go, oh, let's take our dogs to the gym, that's a really weird concept. But you're right, you know, nutrition is a very easy kind of lead-in. For 85 cents we can add a tin of sardines. It's a really easy little step to just doing a little bit better whilst you stay in your comfort zone.  

00:27:02 Sacha:       Because feeding a whole fresh food diet can be quite overwhelming to people. Anytime we learn something new, we feel overwhelmed. And I think if you don't feel overwhelmed, then you're not learning. So we just need to take step by step with people because we also live in a world of perfectionism. I'm very much like that. So I'm like, if I can't do something perfect, well I don't wanna do it. Right? Because that's just how my brain works. So to say to myself, it's okay, let's just start with the tin of sardines today, and let's just help you work to perfection, doesn't exist, later on. We'll get there eventually. It might be one or two years, but we have to work within your comfort zone to do it. Because if I started ear bashing people like, “you need to feed a fresh fruit diet”, Like, there is no in between, you're just not gonna do it. It's like when I was a smoker and they were telling me, you know, that smoking's bad. Like, nah, you know, you could get lung cancer and nah, it's not until things become real that, you know, we start to change our minds, and usually we have that one dog that changes it for us.  

00:28:01 Narelle:        Absolutely.  

00:28:02 Sacha:        We have the Lela’s and the Dante’s of the world that, you know, medical issues, and if we give them really cool nutritional support for that, then it kind of helps them get through it.  

00:28:12 Narelle:        So the other great thing that you do to support the members of your Facebook Group, and which I love, is the recipes. Because even with the ratios, you see them, they read the ratios, they sort of know the concept of what they're supposed to be doing, but they just don't get it. Or they're afraid to sort of take that first step, even though it's all there in front of them. And so I think for you to have those recipes that are really doable, the ingredients are really accessible and it's there in black and white, these are the ingredients. This is what you need to do,  

00:28:38 Sacha:        This is how you do it. Yeah. Because even I'm a victim of it. So we are really conditioned to this complete and balanced concept. I was born into it, I'm still in it. And even from time to time, I will question myself. And I think that's really normal, especially when you're quite an educated person in that area. It's really hard for you to go, I know what a healthy diet looks like for me. I can do that without a calculator. But it's really hard to transfer that to dogs. We want to know, because most of the people that are sitting in a fresh food feeding group are like serious dog lovers, right. So we're like, we wanna do the best we can for our dogs, and I wanna get this perfect. I wanna make sure that my dog is not gonna be insufficient or deficient in something like zinc.  

00:29:25 Sacha:        You are like, complete and balanced just makes it all good in my head. So it's really hard. So I thought, you know, even though I don't personally support complete and balanced as a way that you should feed your dog every single day, it makes me feel uncomfortable for a bunch of different reasons, I just find the commercialism behind it. I'm kinda like, other people need to have that safety net. They need to just go, oh, I can feed this recipe. They're really basic ingredients and it's complete and balanced and my vet's gonna be okay with it. That's another hard one. You turn up at your vet who's not trained in fresh food nutrition, they're likely to give you a pretty hard time. And so you then start to question yourself. Then you go back, rather than go to complete unbalanced raw foods, you just go back to kibble. And we don't want people to do that. We want people to feel empowered, and to really understand what these things are and not to be scared of them. So talking about complete and balanced and not being scared of things is something that we like to address quite a lot. Because it is something, even someone like me, I don't know like you Narelle, if you have moments where you just go, oh, is that balanced enough? Have I done a good enough job?  

00:30:34 Narelle:       Yeah. Look, I think we all question ourselves from time to time. Because I do a lot of health nutrition work for medical conditions as well, you know, you've just gotta be so on point and so careful. And I spend so much time with my doggy clients in formulating meals because I'm at the back of my mind, this is not a healthy dog. It's got an issue. So I have to be even more accurate. And so, yeah, it's challenging. But I think with your recipe cards, I think when people get comfortable just with handling raw food and seeing that, okay, this isn't so complicated, it is just like creating my own family's meals, I think then they're more likely to take that next step and just follow the concept of the ratios a bit more freely. I think that's awesome. I don't know who's doing your graphic designs for your recipe cuts, but…

00:31:18 Sacha:        Just me. 

00:31:20 Narelle:        I love them. Well then I'm so envious because I look at them, I'm like, oh, I wish I had like just 1% of artistic ability within me to even think to make something look prettier.  

00:31:29 Glenn:       She comes and shows me. Like, she'll run in and say, have a look at this. How good is this? I wonder who's doing her graphic arts and so forth. It's so professionally put together.  

00:31:38 Narelle:       They look awesome. I love that you're doing them, Sacha.  

00:31:41 Glenn:       She fangirls your graphics.  

00:31:43 Sacha:        Oh, bless. I do. I'm gonna let you in on a little secret. There's a company online called Canva and you can use them completely free. Yeah. All my recipe cards come from Canva.  

00:31:54 Narelle:        Good to know. I have discovered Canva in the last, more so just the last six months I've started using them and I'm like, oh my God, this does make life so much easier for someone who has no clue. I think you still need to have a vision, like the bigger picture vision of how you want things to look and you just seem to nail it every time with your recipe card. So good job.  

00:32:11 Sacha:       Oh, well, thank you. We actually have something exciting going on here in Sydney. My supplier of fresh food is World4Pets. We've actually two of the new recipes that I've just done, which are for, I guess for Covid times, people on a budget in hard times. They're really simple recipes. They really don't reflect the variety that I would normally encourage people to have. But these are really basic. They've got some, some high carbohydrates in there to kind of bulk the recipe out a little bit, you know, hard times and all. World4Pets here are gonna stock two of those. We're gonna send them 250 each of those cards that they can have freely available to people when they buy their fresh food and they can kind of go, okay, well I can do it right and I can do it cheaper.  

00:32:53 Sacha:        So many people still feed kibble, because they're like, I just need to bulk the diet out. Or they might be adding a lot of rice and unbalanced formats. I'm like, well if you're gonna use a filler, let's do it this way. It's still complete and balanced. We're still balancing our facts. We've still got, you know, really good fibre and all that kind of stuff, and we can do it this way, and here's a card that's free. Take it home and give it a go. So I'm stoked that World4Pets are doing that.   

00:33:19 Narelle:        Yeah congratulations. That's great. Just to spread the knowledge even wider through the resource, such as World4Pets.

00:33:25 Sacha:        I would've loved to have had that when I was starting out, to just walk into your meat store and there's a recipe card free, just like in Woolworths right, and it's based on World4Pet's ingredients as well, so the ingredients they can get right there.  

00:33:40 Narelle:        I'm really excited to see that you are moving into the underwater treadmill, hydrotherapy world. 

00:33:47 Sacha:        Well look. Bloody covid, I tell you. I would've already finished my certification now if it was not for Covid. Because the practical happens in Melbourne, so it's already been cancelled, it's rescheduled for September, so let's see if that actually happens. So yeah, I'm super excited about it. Rehab wasn't necessarily, in my mind, it was more so about fitness. But certainly rehab for dogs like my own Gavin who has IVDD to really kind of help him keep his muscle tone as things start to deteriorate in his body. I see a lot of Dachshunds as well with IVDD.  

00:34:19 Glenn:        So what is that? What is IVDD?  

00:34:21 Sacha:       So IVDD is pretty much when the discs aren't doing what they need to do anymore. So with Gavin, for example, in the base of his neck, one of his has actually exploded and now it's actually pressing on his spinal cord. So in big dogs, we'll often see it in their necks, especially these days you've got these big heads on these long, elegant necks. It's kind of like a biomechanical give out in the end. But then when we have Dachshunds, for example, when we have these long backs and we are letting them jump on and off furniture, then we can get injuries. So they're already genetically predisposed to IVDD in most cases. So it just increases their risk. Like Gavin is, he carries one gene for IVDD and then they might have an injury, or it's just a progressive disease and it comes about, so it kind of makes 'em drunk. You know, kind of like what happened to Ladybug in an instance you know. You blow a disc and in Gavin's case, he's not gonna recover by himself with Dachshunds, sometimes we can just crate rest them for six weeks and they'll come good. Like what you did with Ladybug, she had surgery I think from memory.  

00:35:26 Sacha:        So Gavin, we didn't believe was a surgical candidate, it's like a horse being down for a long period of time. There were a lot of risk factors involved. He has other health conditions, so we decided not to do surgery with him. And so he just lives out his life a little drunk. And he has what we call nuggets now. So when he gets up from his bed, there’s a little poo nugget. He's disgusted that someone's taking a poo on his bed. I haven't told him yet that that's actually him that's pooing on his own bed yet.  

00:35:52 Narelle: That sounds like a familiar story too, doesn't it?

00:35:53 Glenn:        Yes, 

00:35:54 Narelle: Ladybug does that, yeah.

00:35:57 Sacha:        Little nuggets. So IVDD is so common these days and you know, we bring home these little dogs, these little pocket rockets, right. Like our little Frenchies, like crazy little things and they like to just kind of parkour off the environment, and they can really do themselves damage And it's almost like you can't stop them because if you stop them, then what's their quality of life? That's just who they are. So you can kind of like, please don't do that. Please don't jump off the top of the couch. But you know, by the time you say that and try and get there, they're already done.  

00:36:31 Glenn:       It's not only that, even with a situation where let's say you stop them from one piece of furniture, they would find something else to jump off, or they'd hit a wall and bounce off that or something like that. Like Ladybug was just reprehensible with her behaviour when she kicks in the drive. And there's a problem when a dog is initiated into drive, we always had a saying in the industry that drive blocks fear and pain. It's the same when dogs want to beat each other up. Like, let's talk about a couple of siblings. They might be very responsive to you in all situations until that drive kicks in, where they want to have a stoush with the other dog and they can't hear or feel anything that's going on around them until after the skirmish. And then after that they're sort of looking around going, oh, what's happening? I'm, I'm hurting. This is not fair. But during the initiation, not that you would, I'm not saying this as something you would do, or I'd encourage, but you could throw a chair at them and they just bounce off them and they go, yeah, I don't care. Yeah. I don't care about that. That doesn't hurt. But the minute after it's all happened and they've sort of snapped back to reality, then their cortisol and their adrenaline has all run dry and it's the same thing with us, you start to feel mortal again.  

00:37:36 Sacha:        I know this for a fact. About two years ago I was at the park with Gavin, the Dane, Ginger who's a bully cross. Now, this is when Gavin can still move around a little bit. They all of a sudden went into a zoom, and they were just zooming. And I was like, ah, shit, you know, I'm in the middle of the park, that is not a safe place to be and I'm trying to get to the fence line. A Dane will usually play chicken with you, if you don't move your safe. But Ginger, no concept where she was at all. Anyway, she came and smashed me in the side of the knee. I tore my medial ligament and I went down like a sack of shit. Oh my God, I got up, I felt a little unstable, but there's no pain. 

00:38:20 Sacha:        Do you know what? I better get home really quick. Because I'm only like five minutes away from home and I got home and the pain, oh my gosh, I just had that moment where it's like, yep, the adrenaline is there. I'm all good. It's giving me an opportunity, this nice little window to get home and then I'm gonna feel it. They say it about greyhounds as well, you know, regardless of any kind of medication or whatever, they will cross a finish line on a broken leg. Like if you are in that drive, like you are there, right? And these little dogs are intense, like little Dachshunds I mean, Glen, you must deal with Dachshunds, right?  

00:39:00 Glenn:       Oh, we know about Dachshunds.  

00:39:01 Sacha:       Oh yeah, they're crazy little fiery little guys. And so when they're zooming and they're jumping on and off furniture, you're just like, oh my God, don't do that. You know, but we bring them into our homes as companions and we want them sitting with us on the furniture right.   

00:39:17 Sacha:       And we don't think that they've got these long, unstable backs.  

00:39:19 Glenn:        I still to this day say one of the breeds to this day that I was attacked by most virulently was a little Dachshund and this is about 25 years ago. I went into a kennel 'cause he looked like a cute little dog. And I had warnings from him, from the staff. Like the staff had actually pre-warned me and said, just be careful. His name was Chico. They said, just be careful with him. He's really intense and he's aggressive. And I looked at him and I thought, I'm a working dog guy. Like what's he gonna do? He's a tiny like a little sausage. And I went in there and it was like somebody threw a rugby ball at me. He came, he came wobbling through the air and latched hold of my jumper. And luckily I had a big sort of sloppy joe sort of jumper on at the time. And he grabbed that and with every ounce of intensity, like, I mean, I had one small puncture in the side of my stomach, but he grabbed it and literally tore chunks outta my jumper. And I had a healthy respect for little dogs then, and realised the saying that people say ‘it's not the size of the dog in the fight, it's the size of the fight in the dog’.  

00:40:23 Sacha:        I've only ever been bitten once, thankfully I shouldn't say that out loud. Let me touch wood or something. And it was by a little Papillon, a little baby Papillon got me and she got me good. But apart from that, the big dogs, like I know them in most cases. I'm very respectful. I'm not gonna push the boundaries with them. I'm like, I'm not putting myself in that situation. The little ones, oh the little ones will get you. You know, like the big ones, you see it coming, you're like, I see you're uncomfortable. My survival instinct inside tells me that things aren't going well here, but the little ones, in just a moment they are going, whew. I've had some close calls with some little dogs. They're just different, aren't they? But people love the fiery, spicy nature of little dogs as well.  

00:41:09 Glenn:        Yes they do.  

00:41:09 Narelle:        We certainly do.  

00:41:10 Sacha:        Yeah, I like big ones.  

00:41:13 Narelle:        So is there anything else that you've got going on in your business world or anything that you wanna share with the listeners Sacha?  

00:41:18 Sacha:       At the moment, it's been so crazy busy. Everyone's been excited that, you know, agility trials are back, dog shows are back, and now we're on lockdown, again. I think at the moment Covid has kind of given us a good reason to slow down and to chill out and, and take that time for ourselves, because we're so busy all the time and we don't do it. So right now things are a little bit quiet here. So I'm taking the time to spend more time out in nature. So we're out mountain biking with the dogs and we're just enjoying things. I'm taking more time to try and work towards some bigger goals that I have in terms of recipe cards and things like that. And just trying to plan for the future a little bit more. I'm always trying to think of ways that we can nicely and gently put people over to fresh food kind of feeding without them feeling guilty and other negative feelings. So it's a good time to sit down, and plan, I think.  

00:42:14 Narelle:       Yeah, it is. That's really great. So if people aren't familiar with Sacha and Brittany's group, it's Fresh Food Feeding for Dogs - Kibble Feeders Welcome. You'll have to explain, you only take people in, in chunks don't you? So you can sort of pace the new members coming into the group.  

00:42:27 Sacha:       Yeah. So we may take on sometimes 100 or even 500 in a sitting, and we let everyone settle in and sort of get used to what we talk about and everything like that so we don't get a hundred of the same questions every day, and then we'll let more people in. So you should definitely still join. We may let you in the next day, we may let you in the next week or within the next two weeks. Usually, we've kind of started to let more people in at the moment, mostly Australian at the moment, just because we wanna keep our figures really high with our Australian members. But definitely come and join us. We have a really great start here file that kind of gets you started. Even talks about hybrid feeding, which is kibble plus the fresh food. So even if you just wanna, you know, just dip your toe in a little bit, we're more than happy to help you there.  

00:43:12 Narelle:        Yeah and look, I can't recommend the group highly enough. I don't have a lot of time to spend on social media and especially like raw food feeding groups, you know, there's just so many out there, and like you said you've just gotta find one that sits well with you. Your group just sits well with me and I just don't have the time to be going through all the other groups that are out there. So yeah, join the group and if they wanna find out more about you and your conditioning work Sacha, where can they get in touch with you that way?  

00:43:35 Sacha:        Yeah, the website which is balanced-canine.com or Facebook, which is The Balanced Canine, Sydney.  

00:43:42 Narelle:        Great. Are your books open to new clients? I know Covid throws a spanner in a little bit.  

00:43:45 Sacha:        Yeah, I've just opened my books up again because my hours have now increased. I actually ditched my day job and I'm actually doing The Balance Canine full time. 

00:43:54 Glenn: Congratulations. 

00:43:55 Sacha: So that was really exciting, thank you. So that happened about three months ago and I'm seeing new clients again, so very cool.  

00:44:08 Narelle:        Okay, so we should probably wrap it up.  

00:44:10 Glenn:        We should probably wrap it up about there, but we'd love to thank you very much for a great conversation, and learning a little bit more about you and all the great work that you are putting out in the community, thank you. And also to Brittany as well, who we've had on the show before for an incredible array of information that you put out there, and a lot of it gratis as well. I know that takes a lot of time to produce that and to be able to put it out there, but the wonderful service that you're offering and I can't highly recommend you enough to clients who have any mobility issues, or as you said, pre preventative issues with their dogs. You've certainly become iconic in the Sydney region, so great work.  

00:44:48 Narelle:        Yeah, I don't think I've got a dog client that I haven't recommended that they join your Facebook group and look at your recipes. It saves me so much time, Sacha.  

00:44:56 Sacha:        Thank you. And thank you for the great podcast and challenging the way that we think. A lot of the material that you've had in your podcast has challenged some of my own belief systems, and I like that. I like that where we have to be open to learning new things and because you bring the science, you bring the proof, so that's great. Thank you.  

00:45:14 Narelle:       If anyone wants to put out any questions about what they've heard today, they can jump onto the Facebook Page, Natural Health for People and Pets. You can jump onto my website, naturalhealthandnutrition.com.au, and you can email me at narelle@naturalhealthandnutrition.com au. Thanks Sacha, and maybe we'll have you on the show again sometime when you've got some new awesome projects that we can share with the listeners.

00:45:34 Sacha:       Cool, thank you so much.  

00:45:35 Narelle:        All right, thanks. Bye. 

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