Whistler is crazy about a lot of things: adrenaline sports, ill-fitting toques and bluebird days chief among them. But there's also the pasttimes that have developed off the mountain that give the resort's main raison d'etre — skiing and snowboarding — a run for its money in terms of sheer obsessiveness: dogs and sushi.
Fortunately for the pooch in your life, there's a local company that has managed to combine both of these passions. Dooshi Pet Supplies is the brainchild of Sachi Sushi employees Jeff Anderson and Koji Miyagawa, who were looking for a healthy, environmentally friendly alternative to the majority of dog food on the market. "It started when I took my personal dogs down to Dr. (Loridawn) Gordon in Function Junction and discovering the lumps on their stomachs were most likely caused by poor nutrition in their diets," explained Anderson.
After doing a bit of research, Anderson was surprised to learn just how bad much of the dog food products out there actually are — an ignorance he thinks most pet owners share.
"I've always had the idea that there were different qualities of food, but until you actually research it for yourself and find out how many recalls there have been and how many dogs actually die (from the food they eat), it's all over the place with some of these bigger dog food and treat companies," he said. "It's just terrible. It's a very grey area of the industry with the regulations on how they make (their products)."
That's when a lighbulb went off in Anderson's head: What if he could turn food waste already headed for the trash into delicious, nutrient-rich dog treats?
"Working at the sushi restaurant, we were watching all the salmon go into the waste bin and then, from juicing it, all the pulp going into the waste bin, and we put the concept together — 'holy cow, there's pulp in the salmon and it's probably healthy for dogs.' When we did our research, it turned out it was healthier than we ever could have imagined," he said.
With wild salmon and tuna as the main ingredients, Dooshi's treats are rich in Omega acids, which Anderson said help improve canine mental health, joint mobility and make dogs' coats shine. Anderson also sources organic fruit and veggie pulp from village juice bar Naked Sprout, which is great for a dog's digestive system.
By using local food waste, Anderson is helping reduce the company's carbon paw, er, footprint as well, a model he hopes to take outside of the resort.
"We are planning to open a Dooshi factory in every major town or city that has an abundance of juice bars and sushi restaurants so that we can reduce the environmental impact of transporting all these pet products," he said.
At this stage, Dooshi makes four different products: BC Chips, made from wild sockeye salmon skin; Durgers, a salmon superfood burger that includes kale, apple, celery, beets, ginger and turmeric; as well as an Ahi Tuna Jerky and a Salmon Tenderloin Jerky. You can find Dooshi treats online at dooshi.ca as well as at Sachi Sushi, Naked Sprout and the Riverside RV Park, with plans in the works to start selling soon at Creekside Market.
And, just in case you're wondering, Anderson is well aware that his brand name sounds awfully similar to a certain feminine hygiene product, and that is by design.
"No one has come back to us and said, 'Excuse me, but what was the name of your dog sushi company?'" Anderson said with a laugh. "Once people hear the name, they don't forget it."