Featured Merchant: Dogology, Canton, CT

By Lynn Stacy-Smith 

What happens when you combine three successful pet professionals, one with a background in training, one with extensive experience as a veterinary technician and canine massage therapy, and one with a specialty in animal nutrition and pet retail? What happens is that you achieve Dogology.

Exterior of Dogology
Exterior of Dogology

Dogology is much more than just a pet food store in Canton, Connecticut owned by Frances Schroeder, Marissa Squires and Ben Braunstein; Dogology is a belief, and a way of life. According to the Dogology website, “Dogology is our belief that if you take a pet into your life, you have an obligation to fulfill this life by feeding their mind, body and soul. We have studied, adored and appreciated dogs since we were children and it is this life-long love of dogs that has led us to create our ‘Dogology’”.

owners marissa frances and ben - Dogology
Dogology owners Ben, Marissa and Frances celebrating their one year anniversary of Dogology

I had the privilege of speaking to co-owner Marissa Squires and Frances Schroeder about the success of Dogology and how the three founders decided to combine forces and open a pet retail store. “It was funny,” Marissa recalls, “one client who was a customer of all three of the owners started calling us her team of people for our dog. We thought ‘why not do this under one roof’ and started brainstorming Dogology.”

In February 2013 their brainstorm came to life as Dogology opened its doors and has been thriving ever since. “We attribute all of our successes to good karma; we try to help the community, we help rescue organizations, we are a knowledge based store, “Marissa explained, “We want the customers to be happy, we want the dogs to have a better life. We’ve done everything ourselves, it’s been an amazing journey of the community accepting us and accepting our advice.”

Dogology is open for business
Dogology is open for business

One of the goals of Dogology is to provide a holistic and whole dog approach for the issues that some pets are experiencing and to give the pet owners the right information even if it means sending them somewhere else for a particular item. “As much as we want to be prosperous, we also want owners to be able to do the best for their pets,” Marissa said.

Rescued blue Pit Bull River loves his Canine Caviar - Dogology
Rescued blue Pit Bull River loves his Canine Caviar

Between the owners and the team at Dogology they own fourteen dogs. “We are in this business because we love it, “Marissa told me, “We test the products on our own pets, we are able to confidently tell client about it, how to fix a lot of issues because our own pets are eating our products and we are seeing the benefits first hand.”

Among the most loved products sold at Dogology is Canine Caviar holistic pet food. Marissa herself feeds Canine Caviar alkaline PH based diet to her dogs as does the newest Dogology addition, Kim Gazso whose pack of four dogs (Dewey, Dash, Bruce and Misty) were recently featured in the Canine Caviar Furr Tales.

According to Marissa, Canine Caviar is the number one selling food at Dogology right now. Customers return to the store and continue feeding to their dogs because it has solved many pets’ health issues with digestive issues, tear staining,  and canine allergies. It appeals to picky eaters as well. Marissa cited the “premier ingredients” as the prime reason she and the rest of the team at Dogology believe so strongly in Canine Caviar’s health benefits. “It is a slim list of ingredients, everything that they need in such an amazing way without having all of those things that could trigger allergies,” she raved, “We think your food is absolutely incredible.”

keane and his canine caviar - Dogology
Keane, a rescued Maltipoo owned by Dogology owner Frances Schroeder, also thrives on Canine Caviar

Marissa’s own Pit Bull River thrives on Canine Caviar Wild Ocean grain free kibble. River, now a beautiful robust dog, was found in a bag on the side of the road as a little puppy. Rescued and raised at Dogology, Marissa welcomed him into her family. At just six months old his skin allergies were so bad that he would scratch himself bloody. “It was so early for food allergies and we just could not get it under control,” she said. After a lot of trial and error with different foods she tried Canine Caviar Wild Ocean and it is the only thing that suppresses the itching and prevents him from scratching large bald patches on his skin. Marissa also has a white shepherd whose skin allergies were solved by Canine Caviar.

Frances Schroeder, one of the owners, said, “Canine Caviar was always on my list of foods to sell when I opened a store. I was lucky enough to know Marissa through rescue and mutual clients and the rest is Dogology history!” Frances also feeds Canine Caviar to her own dogs. Although all of her rescued dogs are now raised holistically, her Maltipoo Keane, who is frequently at Dogology, was rescued as a puppy and has been raised holistically since puppyhood and eats Canine Caviar. Keane is best friends with Marissa’s dog River and Dewey, who was featured earlier this summer.

Digestibility is also a popular reason that the Dogology team suggests Canine Caviar to pet owners. Marissa shared the story of a woman who’s seven month old chocolate Labrador Retriever had suffered from chronic diarrhea his entire life. The Labrador’s veterinarian told the owner that he had never seen a case as bad as his in his career. They tried various foods, Flagyl medication, pumpkin, and nothing solved the digestive issues. The puppy had accidents continually and moped around the house without any energy, which is extremely atypical of a Labrador Retriever puppy. Without any other remedies in sight the veterinarian suggested euthanasia to put the puppy out of his misery from his horrific quality of life.

River's customer service is the best at Dogology
River’s customer service is the best at Dogology

Fortunately the owner walked into Dogology. On the verge of tears she asked for one more food recommendation and Marissa suggested Canine Caviar. She told the owner how much to feed and to do the “cold turkey” switch from the dog’s previous food to Canine Caviar.

The Labrador Retriever is now a little over a year old, has not had diarrhea since, and is a normal lab puppy, full of energy and not moping around. The puppy owner returns to the Dogology to purchase her Canine Caviar and has shared with them that she cannot thank them enough, that Dogology and Canine Caviar have literally saved her young dog’s life.

Marissa relayed another story of a Chihuahua who drank water excessively and woke her owner up every night to urinate. She was eating another brand of food and Marissa determined that her salt levels were off. After changing to Canine Caviar she drank normally on the very first day on the holistic pet food and no longer gets up at 3am to go to the bathroom.

Two of The Beans, a litter of rescued puppies fostered at Dogology.
Two of The Beans, a litter of rescued puppies fostered at Dogology.

One of the biggest benefits to having store owners with expertise in nutrition and a background in a veterinary hospital is that the team at Dogology is able to provide a specific calorie calculation for each specific dog and then advise them on how much of a particular food to feed. This helps customers keep their dog at a healthy weight and understand how long a bag of Canine Caviar will last, allowing them to  plan on when they will need to purchase food.

The team at Dogology also understands the connection between nutrition and canine behavior. “If your dog is eating sugary food, unsavory ingredients, just like a kid who is eating sugar, the dog is going to be hyperactive, “ Marissa explained, “If they are feeling good and eating a high quality food it all plays into good behavior.”

Owner/trainer Ben Braunstein and NBC Connecticut Anchor Darren Sweeney - Dogology
Owner/trainer Ben Braunstein and NBC Connecticut Anchor Darren Sweeney

Dogology offers great classes for dogs and their owners, including two different levels of puppy classes, a class to prepare for the Canine Good Citizen test, a walking class, puppy and dog play groups, circuit training for dogs, and private sessions on site or in your home. Perhaps the most unique offering is the Pre-Dog Ownership Consultation, which provides valuable information for owners before they bring their dog home to make sure they understand everything that is involved in owning a dog and that they are prepared before they make the life altering decision of pet ownership.

Dog rescue is a passion of all of the owners of Dogology and they work on reducing the number of homeless and unwanted dogs in a variety of ways. One of these ways is by donating free pet photography for rescue groups. “In anything a picture is worth 1000 words but especially a picture of an adoptable pet” Marissa, who also offers Pet Portrait services for purchase at the store, explained, “an important aspect of rescue is to show off the great qualities of these dogs and help people connect.”

Marissa Squires with one of The Beans, back from a visit with his adopter - Dogology
Marissa Squires with one of The Beans, back from a visit with his adopter

There is also the Pet Food Pantry, a no cost source of pet food to anyone in the community who needs food but cannot afford it. “We service a lot of pet food pantry clients, “Marissa said, “When we started Dogology it was very important to give back. There were no pet food pantries in our area, no resources for pets. In the same sense that we don’t want dogs to end up in shelters we thought, if these people who fell on hard times needed assistance with their own families, they should have a place where they could get much needed support for their pets.” She added, “If someone can keep their pet because they are able to feed them it keeps them out of the shelters. We have new faces as well as some people who come in every week. Some people who have gotten back on their feet who ten come in and donate or buy a bag of food for the pet pantry.” If you would like to donate to the Pet Food Pantry you can do so at this link on the Dogology website: http://www.dogologyct.com/pet-food-pantry.html.

Dogology works with Boot n’ Kit Canine Rescue and Dog Star Rescue. They host frequent adoption events as well as weekly adoption meetings and have a room in the store dedicated to adoption meetings where potential owners and dogs can meet and get to know each other. This lets the adopters see if the dog is the right match. “The last thing we want to see is an adoption that isn’t a match,” said Marissa.

There are also other events like their annual DogToberfest, which is a benefit to the Pet Food Pantry attended by vendors along with pet photography, raffles, demonstrations and other fun dog related activities. There are also frequent educational seminars where customers can learn about pet nutrition and other topics.

Owners can also bring their dogs to receive therapeutic canine massage right in the store. Most of the dogs who participate are geriatric dogs who do not have a good range of motion or who are losing muscle mass. According to Marissa, canine massage gets the lactic acid out of their muscles, contributes to overall wellness and gets the blood flow back to the muscles for dogs who are not running and being active.

Dogs are definitely a species who know that life should involve having fun, and Dogology also offers a space for pet parties, complete with decorations, party hats, water, grain free treats and a themed doggie cake. Pet owners can choose from pet birthday parties, new pet adoption parties and yappy hour, which is essentially having a fun gathering just for the sake of having fun.

Marissa Squires and Frances Schroeder on Ask the Dogologist, NBC Connecticut - Dogology
Marissa Squires and Frances Schroeder on Ask the Dogologist, NBC Connecticut

If you live in the NBC Connecticut viewing area you can watch the owners of Dogology during their monthly segment Ask the Dogologist in which they share their canine expertise on a variety of topics with NBC anchor Darren Sweeney.  The owners of Dogology had a connection to one of the anchors of NBC Connecticut through a dog who he rescued from one of the rescue groups that Dogology supports and whose adoptable dogs they show on the news. Discussions of rescue expanded into conversations about food and wellness and when NBC Connecticut offered a monthly spot, Dogology was happy to participate.

Owner/trainer Ben Braunstein and Darren Sweeny on Ask the Dogologist - Dogology
Owner/trainer Ben Braunstein and Darren Sweeny on Ask the Dogologist


You can also view archives of Ask the Dogologist on the Dogology website on their In the News page or on their YouTube page.  Also watch both of our recent Google Hangouts with Marissa Squires and Jeff Baker, founder of Canine Caviar, on our Canine Caviar You Tube page:

Canine Caviar and Dogology

Hanging Out With Dogology