When Steve and Julie Johannes’ first dog, Java, wound up with cancer, they started researching ways to prevent future ailments and learned that nutrition could have been the culprit.
After exploring different kinds of pet food and even cooking their own dog food at one point, they concluded their dog needed nutrient-dense ingredients high in protein and fat and low in carbohydrates.
“That’s when we went down the road of finding companies that make quality, mostly raw food, that are digestible by dogs and not filled with a bunch of ingredients that they can’t use,” Julie said.
The Johannes’ new passion for high-quality dog food led them to open a pet store in Colorado, which they ran for four years. Since moving to Bigfork two years ago, they opened a new store, Happy Hounds Pet Supply, in February.
While Steve says most low-quality dog food uses ingredients like corn, wheat, soy, animal byproducts and synthesized chemicals, the food he and Julie sell is mostly raw with 2% to 7% carbohydrate, a significantly lower percentage than most food. One of their brands, Nature’s Logic, also contains ingredients like carrots, apples, blueberries and squash, allowing for easier absorption than synthetic chemicals.
“Dogs are designed to eat (raw food),” Steve said. “It’s more what they would eat in the wild but with an easy-to -provide form with a clean sourcing.”
Steve says lower quality food can cause bad digestion, itchiness, aggression, misbehavior and inflammation that can lead to cancer and other ailments.
In addition to raw food, Happy Hounds also sells high-quality dry and canned dog food, single-ingredient treats, cat food, toys and other gear like collars and winter jackets.
Since the Johannes opened the pet store right before the pandemic took hold, Julie said they had a tough time getting the word out about their new business, even though they were able to stay open since their business is considered essential.
Originally named Powder Hounds Pet Supply, they decided to change the name to Happy Hounds since Bigfork isn’t exactly a ski town.
“(The name) wasn’t working,” Steve said. “And everyone needs a little more happy in their life right now.”
Once the state locked down, the Johanne’ scrambled to get their online store running, but Julie says it was a struggle to advertise the new store. With help from the Bigfork Chamber of Commerce, Happy Hounds held a grand opening in July, which the Johannes say helped bring awareness to the store.
Julie says now that the community knows Happy Hounds exists, they are grateful there’s a pet store in Bigfork and they don’t have to travel to buy pet food.
“Bigfork residents struggle with the fact that a lot of their resources are in Kalispell and they have to go there for a lot of things,” Julie said. “If dog food and cat food is one less thing they have to go there for they’re really thankful.”
For more information, visit www.happyhoundpetsupply.com.