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A Conversation about Money

A Conversation about Money

This blog post is one Mark and I have been kicking around for a while, and on a Friday night I've finally got a moment to jot some thoughts down.

My family and I are in Newcastle for a friend’s wedding. After a big day, Kipp is sleeping next to me on the hotel bed, tennis is on in the background and my husband and I are using this quiet moment to get some work done before crashing ourselves.

This was the first week back at the day job after eight months of mat leave and it's been a tough one. Kipp had a couple days of day care combined with flu, gastro and teething. My husband and I have been trying to juggle our careers with having a new family and seeing what that looks like. Something all families go through I know, but no less challenging. I loved my time at home with Kipp and I missed him so much this week but now I have the opportunity to share those fun times with my husband  and we will both work part time to spend time at home with Kipp and rely on day care for a couple days as well.

Amongst all of that there is Pawleo. Definitely a labour of love for Mark and I,  a business that we really believe in and are trying to build literally from the ground up. Pawleo is a start up in the truest form, started with no capital, trial and error, our own time and muscle power and continually trying to live up to our values – providing a high quality product, at a price that makes healthy dog  food  achievable for as many people as possible. You have been patient with us, allowed us to make mistakes, helped us learn how to pack properly, kindly provided feedback on style and mixes, shared photos of your dogs and helped us to build our tiny little company. We have been so grateful and appreciative of all our customer interactions over the past year, we love talking about your pooches, figuring out what ingredients they love and the benefits you see, as well as the ingredients they don't like so much…turnips and beef liver, blergh.

Up to this point we have been operating Pawleo so that it is self sufficient. We have done this to give ourselves time to build our reputation,  speak to our customers, refine our product, find the ingredients and suppliers that we love and sometimes get extra help to lend a hand. We now think we have a product that is needed and wanted. We've been busy and we have achieved a lot this past year.

However, that being said,  for Pawleo to keep on keeping on we now have to raise our prices, just a little, so that we can continue to cover costs such as rent and the rising prices of good quality meat and vegetables. Sometime soon we would also like to employ someone and we want to be able to pay a fair salary. We truly believe in being a transparent company and we want to be open about why the food costs what it does, so I've drawn a picture on a napkin:

Talking about money is awkward but it's important to us that you know what goes into a tub of Pawleo. It's more than food, it is time and labour, equipment maintenance, online platforms, packaging, ensuring we meet regulatory and financial requirements, office supplies, repairs, hopefully wages.  

What we hope for is that our food continues to be of value to you. We do all that we can do bring down our costs and reflect that in our pricing and margins. We know that if we grow we will have greater purchasing and bargaining power and we are committed to reflecting that in our pricing.

One of the things we’ve been working on over the last few months is how can we reduce our delivery costs to make Pawleo more accessible.  Mark and I have always said that when we can bring down delivery costs, we will.  We never aim to make profit from our delivery prices and never have.  We’ve been able to reduce delivery costs by $5.95 across the board and now have a single delivery price for each delivery zone.  

Logistics will continue to be one of our main priorities in 2017.  We’ll work on lowering delivery costs, improve our packaging and look for more robust solutions for Pawleo in warmer temperatures.  In all honesty, we’d love to have our own delivery drivers and to be able to control the full Pawleo experience from website to doggy bowl but third party couriers are necessary for now.  We’ve also got a lot of exciting new products and flavours in the pipeline so keep an eye out for those throughout the year!  We’re pretty excited for Pawleo in 2017.

We hope that you continue to talk to us and guide us. That we can continue to build this business on a platform of trust that you have in us and our product. What we really want is for people to feel joy when they give their dog a meal (only dog people would understand this) and that comes from feeding healthy food, that has tangible benefits, licked lips and wagging tails.

Jess and Mark

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Golden Dogs

Turmeric, it’s yellow. It reminds me of glorious Indian spice markets and it stains everything. Like, everything. Goodbye warm and cosy jumper that I shouldn’t have cooked in – I loved you.

The taste is hard to discern, it’s a bit peppery, a bit musky, a curry staple, a pantry eye catcher. It is part of the ginger family and has been used for centuries as a powerful anti-inflammatory in Chinese and Indian medicine.

Increasingly I see my friends and family exploring all kinds of medical and health options, I see people being open to different kinds of treatment. Western medicine has achieved incredible things and saved countless lives but that shouldn’t mean that it unequivocally replaces traditional healing and the role of nature. There is a balance that can be sought and these branches of medicine can work together. For example Chinese herbal medicine is known to assist the nausea and exhaustion that accompanies chemotherapy.

Many of us have taken comfort in a cup of peppermint tea after an indulgent dinner, or brewed ginger tea when we feel a cold coming on. To my mind, there is no doubt that plants and herbs help us maintain a high quality of life. They can most certainly assist in preventing illness and treating the symptoms.

The key group of medicinal chemical compounds in turmeric are called curcuminoids, including curcumin. In 2015, Curtin University scientists in Western Australia undertook a series of human trials that reaffirmed that curcumin is a promising treatment for many cancers and inflammatory diseases such as arthritis.

It’s not that much of an extension to suggest that the benefits of turmeric can also assist dogs. In fact, if you do an internet search you will find a lot of commentary on the benefits. Like here, and here, and here!

For our old dogs, our dogs that have wonky hips and joints, for our adopted dogs that have had hard lives, for our puppies that are growing, for our dogs that have been in accidents, are unwell and all our dogs that we want to give the best chance of happiness and health, turmeric might just be one important link in the nutrition chain that can give that extra little bit of oomph.

Making golden paste is messy business but we think the benefits are so real that we make it each week to include in all of our food. GP is also available as a food supplement via our online shop. For maximum benefits try to feed each day 1/4tspn for the littlest fellas and up to 1.5tspns for the big ‘uns (1/4 tspn per kg).

Or, if you are like little Olive, you might just like to eat the whole tub.


(This blog has been updated from an earlier post written in 2015).

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Spring Brings the Itchies

Spring Brings the Itchies

Spring is upon us and we are so excited to see more of that sun. Longer days and warmer air mean playing in the park until balmy twilight and meeting new friends.

Whilst the emerging blossoms, grasses and flowers are beautiful (and often picked to decorate my dresser and Kipp’s change table) they also bring red eyes and a runny nose. I definitely suffer from hay fever and I know many dogs do as well.

Yes! Dogs can suffer during this transitional season too – usually it becomes obvious with itchy skin and hives, but sometime runny eyes also become a problem. If I don’t take precautions Archie will often wake up with a mucky eye during Spring,

So what can we do to ease the symptoms of doggy hay fever? Firstly, I’d recommend removing grains from the diet – if we are talking about nutrition as a way to maximise allergen tolerance levels then removing wheat and corn from dog diets during Spring is really important. If grains do make up a big portion of your dog’s diet then switch to rice or oats just for this season. You can also purchase grain free kibble that is made with potato or sweet potato.

Secondly, adding local honey to your dog’s meals can help build their tolerance levels – think of it as an immunisation. By introducing potential allergens in small amounts your dog can build some immunity toward them. This tactic should be tried before the allergies hit as it is a preventative pathway rather than a cure. We will be adding Victorian honey to our food during the Spring period to give everyone a little boost.

We will also be adding extra golden paste to our meals; the turmeric has anti-inflammatory properties and can help soothe skin from the inside out. The coconut oil has similar properties but its main purpose is to act like a high-speed freight train, the presence of coconut oil in the food helps the nutrients be absorbed more effectively.

Finally, there are some physical precautions that can also be taken. Wash and brush your dog more often during Spring, this removes pollen from their bodies (and the house). It may also be a good time to spring clean all of their bedding. In terms of topical treatments that can address sore skin try olive oil or coconut oil based shampoos. To soothe sore skin try applying cooled peppermint or chamomile tea to the affected area. For serious conditions tread the city pavements and avoid parks for a few months. You may of course need to resort to a steroid cream, but might like to try these other things first.

I believe that feeding a raw, natural and grain free diet will go a long way in helping dogs with sore skin. Bodies are like beakers, we can add allergen causing substances with little impact, grains here, artificial treats there but then when pollens and grasses are added to the mix the beaker starts to overflow. What we then start to see is very sore skin, hair loss, itchiness and runny eyes. Most of what I have suggested is preventative rather than treatment based – but for our itchy furry friends it’s worth a shot eh?

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Bringing Home Baby

By now many of you will know that I am about to pop any second and little baby Kipp will come into the world. He will be our first baby and we are so eager to meet him. There are many things to prepare and plan for in the lead up. I am grateful I was able to finish my day job two weeks ago so I could get a handle on all those small tasks like washing and hanging the tiniest, cutest clothes, packing bags, car seat installation and so on – not unfamiliar to so many of you I know.


One very important thing I have to be mindful of is how Archie and Natalie will receive this newcomer. They are both wonderful dogs and I am sure they know that there is already another member of their pack hiding somewhere. Almost the instant I became pregnant Archie stopped jumping on me and became slightly less aloof, slightly more open to the occasional hug. Natalie is just Natalie and will snuggle up to anything. If they can hear a chip packet opened 50 metres away, they can hear that heartbeat. Despite trusting them and watching their behaviour around my niece I will follow the wisdom of others and take steps to prepare them. But just how to do that?

I have received all kinds of advice, solicited and unsolicited. The best has to have come from “our bohemian friend Gerald” so named by Warehouse Dave when he wandered into the building one day. “Save the meconium and feed it to the dogs, your baby will have a guardian for life” OK.

Other pointers seem a little more practical and less ewwwwww – such as:

  • Let the dogs sniff his bed, clothes, toys and pram

  • Rub baby lotion on your body in the lead up to the birth so the dogs become familiar with the smell (tick, and it smells delicious)

  • Set boundaries in the house that will exist when baby arrives

  • Bring home clothes the baby has worn before leaving hospital

  • When I come home let David hold the baby and make a big fuss over the dogs

All of these make sense to me and are in the plan. The only one I am not sure about (other than Gerald’s advice) is setting of the boundaries. I have this romantic notion that boundaries won’t be needed, that the dogs will be gentle and loving straight away. When I am up late at night breastfeeding, it will be a blessing to have Archie curled at my feet – to have the dogs as constant company will be a joy for me.


But this is an ideal – not necessarily the reality. Archie will need to be shown how to be gentle. He may be feeling friendly but one paw shake could badly scratch Kipp’s face. Not intentional, but not safe nonetheless. Can I be vigilant when I am exhausted at 3am?

Maybe designated mats at designated distances from the bassinet, from the feeding chair is the way to go? I don’t have any answers yet but I do know that I want Archie and Natalie to be included in our new family and sense that introducing Kipp as a pack member will help achieve this.

I know lots of you will have had experience in doing this before and I would love to be able to add your pointers to the list above. This is something I will continue to blog about because I think it is something a lot of new parents worry about. How to shift our focus from dog to baby but still letting dog know it is loved and needed, hoping that baby will just fit in with existing life.

Before I sign off I just wanted to say a big thank you. All of you in the PAWLEO community have been so supportive and flexible around this transition and I really appreciate that. You are in safe hands with Mark and I won’t be out of the picture for long. Building PAWLEO is now about building something for Kipp and at least in his early years being able to spend those precious days with him.

 Jess xx


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Joining The Pack

Joining The Pack

Hello PAWLEO Pack! It's been a few months now so I figured it was about time I introduced myself.

Raw Dog Food Game of Thrones

You might have already read a few terrible puns, or seen my best impression of Daenerys Targaryen (minus the blonde hair and cool dragons) on our instagram feed. If you have, then it's a pleasure to meet you again. If you haven't, I should formally introduce myself...

Hi, my name is Mark.

I'm a 27 year old programmer from Ireland (County Armagh for those who are interested. If you don't know where that is, Belfast will do, and if you don't know that we'll go with Dublin). Un-stereotypically, I do not like Guinness. Stereotypically, I do love potatoes. I've been here in Australia for nearly 4 years now and although i'm currently a permanent resident, I hope to do a Tim Tam Slam on Australia Day as a citizen some year soon.

I absolutely love dogs. I had a dog for 13 years called Coby, she was a rescue dog that we took in when I was a kid in Ireland. She was my first and only dog to date and she was the coolest dog a person could ask for. I miss Coby a lot, and I miss having a "man's best friend" (and honestly, I think I have more fun throwing a ball with one of those sticks down at the dog park than dogs do fetching them) so my darling girlfriend Ellie and I have decided that we want a Miniature-Dachshund like this:

His / Her name will be Sherlock. Then we shall get another dog at some point called Watson, maybe even a third called Moriarty (hope you get all the Sherlock Holmes references).

I was championing for a Great Dane all year but somehow I'll end up with almost the exact opposite.

A Great Dane always seemed more Sherlock-like to me than a Mini-Dachshund, but Ellie is convinced otherwise. Some day we'll have a Great Dane and they'll be the best of friends, perhaps that'll be Watson.

We plan on getting Sherlock towards the end of the year. In which, if anyone has any suggestions for quality Mini-Dachshund breeders then I'd love to know about it, I very much value your opinions.


Jess and I met through sheer chance and good fortune. I was starting a company called DoggyBox at the time and came across PAWLEO at the Pet Grocer at South Melbourne Market (aka: Where I spend my Sunday mornings. aka: Where I buy my donuts... At the coffee shop, not the Pet Grocer).

MMMMM Tasty Doggy Donuts

We met up a few times and found that our personalities, goals and outlooks in life and business complimented each other very well (as well as our love for real butter, none of this margarine rubbish), and I think we're making a great team already. I'm very happy to be a part of the pack.

I was going to write more about how we met, what our vision is for PAWLEO future and present, what we're currently working on and what our plans for the next 6-12 months will be, but I thought it was best saved for another dedicated blog post and not lost in my rambles. So keep an eye out for that in the next week.

West Elm Pup Up

Thanks for reading and getting to know me a bit and feel free to introduce yourselves and your dogs in the comments below because I'd love to meet you too. We'll be at the West Elm Pup Up event in Richmond this weekend (Sat 28th May). Come down, hang out and feel free to pop in and say hello! Hopefully we'll see you there, I'm looking forward to it.


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