Animal Anecdote 40.
Before becoming a veterinarian, my father, Leon F. Whitney studied inherited traits of dogs. An example is if you cross a breed of dog that runs with its head high as with the bird dogs with a breed such as one of the hounds that runs with its head down close to the earth, what would the puppies inherit? The answer he found was that all such puppies ran with their heads held high. To do such studies required many breeds as well as his favorites, Bloodhounds and Coonhounds including Redbones.
With the ever growing numbers of dogs came the expense of feeding so many. At that time there was no completely balanced dog food and he decided to develop one. There was a balanced food for rats so he adapted a room at the end of our two car garage to a rat laboratory. One long wall appeared to be shelves as in a library. He made wire bottom cages that slid nicely into the shelves. Then came the white, pink eyed laboratory rats.
Dad had studied the nutritional requirements of dogs and put together a diet with all the known requirements and gradually altered the diet fed to the rats. Soon his improved diet grew rats faster and healthier than the commercial rat food and led to our mixing huge amounts of dehydrated ingredients on the floor of our two car garage. To mix hundreds of pounds of ingredients, we would shovel it from one pile to another and back again many times.
His dogs were the healthiest looking dogs around and soon other kennels requested food and thus came the first complete dog food called Baloration and then Tioga Dog Food. It became the only complete dog food and was so successful that royalties paid not only for the expense of his veterinary degree late in his life but for mine too.
That was no doubt the beginning of the pet food industry, a billion dollar industry today. Who do you suppose had the job of feeding, watering and cleaning the rats in the laboratory? It was my first paying job and brought me $1 a week for years until the pay was raised to $2.
Next time: a gift of 100 Cocker Spaniels. 380 words