For most, a sick dog means going to the vet. This turned into a business plan for Conor Wooley.
Wooley, who has four dogs, said his two bulldogs had trouble eating and had allergic reactions to various brands he tried.
Finally, he searched his fridge to find something that went better with them.
“It was everywhere,” said Wooley, 23, of St. James, of the first batches of dog food he made. “We just got off dog food so it was turkey, potatoes, rice, basically human food, and we changed it every week. It was something like what we had left in the house. “
It wasn’t until he and his high school buddy Rick Orlandi decided to start a business that he refined his recipes with precision for constant batches – and many of them.
“We just saw this as an opportunity to help other dogs with the same problem,” said Orlandi, 23, of St. James who has two beagles.
The two founded Natural Hounds in 2018 and shipped their freshly made food to the US through their website.
After building a strong subscription base, they decided it was time to open a brick and mortar store.
Their first Natural Hounds store opened in Port Jefferson on 216B Main St. last April.
“We had a really hard time finding a place because we wanted to be right in a walking area, like a main street, where people can run around with their dogs and spot them,” said Orlandi. “Port Jeff is super dog friendly. Before we had the shop, when we built our subscription base, we were big on farmers markets. And the Port Jeff farmers market was pretty much our most successful market, so we already had a following in Port Jeff. “
“Everything a dog needs”
Natural Hounds’ main product is the wet food line. The store makes two batches a day. The food is slowly cooked in a saucepan that Orlandi compares to a saucepan.
It is then sold frozen and shipped to be served hot or cold with dry food if desired, or all on its own.
“If people often cook for their dogs themselves, it’s not entirely balanced,” said Orlandi. “It has everything a dog needs so that you can feed him alone.”
Natural Hounds wet food comes in four varieties: Original Recipe, which is a mix of turkey and beef, and beef, pork and lamb. Orlandi said each recipe follows a breakdown of 80 percent lean meat, 10 percent offal, and 10 percent vegetables, oils, and nutrients.
The last 10 percent include carrots, blueberries, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, broccoli, kale, brown rice, flaxseed oil, coconut oil and vitamin D.
The store also sells peanut butter and pumpkin cookies, bully sticks, and frozen Greek yogurt-based goodies, as well as linen, CBD oil for dogs, and some toys. Like their food, Wooley and Orlando’s store is dog-friendly.
The generous floor space allows even the largest breeds space to sniff.
More importantly, the counter has free samples of all four types of Natural Hounds freshly made dried meat – for all the good boys and girls who come to the store.