As an owner of multiple pets, Matthew Harris understands the connection people develop with their four-legged friends. As the new owner of Natural Dawg Cuisine, a specialty pet food shop in Cypress off Barker Cypress Road, he is now in a position to help other pet owners find the best options to meet the dietary needs of their pets.
"More and more you are seeing pets become part of people's families," he said. "That's why places like [Natural Dawg] exist. That's why I do what I do."
Matthew took over the business with his wife, Jaclyn, in September. The couple were already regular customers when the business opened in 2011 under its previous owners.
Matthew, who picked up retail experience working for seven years at Walgreens, said he was intrigued by the prospect of working for himself.
"It's definitely more of a time commitment," he said, acknowledging that he now works nearly 80-hour weeks. "But it's rewarding to actually be able to make my own decisions and to see the impact that those decisions have."
Matthew and his wife got into the business due in part to their love of pets, having rescued two of their own. He recalls seeing the positive change that occurred when he started feeding his dog better food after his first visit to Natural Dawg.
"Most people don't realize how important the food you give to animals is," he said. "Like with humans, a poor diet can lead to any number of issues from allergic reactions to digestive problems to ear problems."
Following that first visit, Matthew set out to learn all he could about dog health and how they digest food. Over time, he developed a thorough understanding about what foods are best for different dogs dealing with different issues.
All food products at Natural Dawg are corn-free, wheat-free and soy-free, Matthew said. The majority of it is also grain-free, with the exception of some products that include brown rice and oats. Many foods and treats at the shop contain fruits and vegetables.
Grooming services are also a part of Natural Dawg's offerings as well as an important part of keeping pets healthy, he said.
The shop's basic grooming package includes a bath with all-natural shampoo, nail trimming, ear cleaning and trimming of face, feet and sanitation areas. Natural Dawg also has three groomers on staff. As a small-business owner, Matthew said he is dedicated to providing a level of compassion and personal customer service that is not always present at bigger chain companies.
"I don't want to put anything in my store that I wouldn't feed to my own pets," he said. "That's the difference. I treat every pet in here like it's one of my own."
New product lines
The previous owners of Natural Dawg Cuisine laid a good foundation for the store and built a solid customer base, owner Matthew Harris said. However, he said he has already put plans in place to rearrange the layout and expand certain displays, including products for cats.
"The previous owner had a small section for cats that we're working on expanding," Harris said. "We're adding toys and a new line of Pride cat food. Cats have very unique food needs, even more so than dogs."
Natural Dawg Cuisine
24140 Hwy. 290, Ste. 200, Cypress, 281-256-9364, www.naturaldawgcuisine.com, Hours: Mon.–Fri. 9 a.m.–7 p.m., Sat. 9 a.m.–5 p.m., Closed Sunday
Matthew and Jaclyn Harris, owners of Natural Dawg Cuisine, maintain relationships with various people in the pet community in Cy-Fair, including local veterinarians, pet sitters and rescue shelters. An event held in conjunction with Pug Hearts is set to take place at the Natural Dawg location on Barker Cypress Road on Feb. 28. Members of the public can meet dogs in need of homes as well as the foster families taking care of them. Applications will be available for anyone wishing to adopt one of the pets. More information will be posted on Natural Dawg's Facebook page as details are finalized.