Tell us a bit about your work and what inspired you to become a pet nutritionist?
I think I have been fascinated by the link between the food we eat and the way we feel since I was very, very young. As a kid I read my aunt’s medical encyclopedias and always asked my mum to explain the benefits of foods for our health. When an opportunity presented itself, I decided to study nutrition as my second degree, and eventually opened my own practice. At the time my knowledge of canine nutrition was based on a course I did before having my first dog and any relevant studies and books I kept reading.
A tragic and sudden departure of Oscar, our beautiful cocker spaniel, turned my life upside down and made me return to my childhood dream of working with dogs. I realised that helping dogs would be both healing for me and beneficial for their families. I closed my practice to study pet nutrition in depth both in academic setting and attending every seminar and webminar I could find.
I consult English cocker spaniels and their parents. I chose to work with a specific breed because I adore these gorgeous dogs, know them inside and out and currently share my life with Coop and Fred. I am their nutritionist, groomer, behaviourist and mum. And they are my world and driving force.
Besides taking care of the boys, home and business, I also enjoy spending time on Instagram and my blog discussing, explaining and demystifying every topic that involves dogs including nutrition.
What inspired you to write your cookbook ‘Beyond the Doughnut’ about dog treats?
Beyond the Doughnut was my way to seek joy in the times of pandemic and share it with others, to inspire pup parents cook for their dogs and make happy memories together. I also wanted to create a collection of recipes that would be safe, tasty and beautiful. It started with a spontaneous idea and a recipe for the biscuits my boys love the most - and turned into a one-woman project and a collection of 30 treats and meals with a generous helping of nutrition trivia. I wrote the words, developed and prepared the recipes, styled and photographed each treat and designed the book, cover to cover.
Tell us about Fred and Cooper and how they came into your life?
I’ve had dogs for over 30 years, so this could turn into a novel. Right now, we have Cooper and Fred, two English cockers. Cooper came into my life a few months after we lost Oscar. I found him by chance on the exact date of Oscar’s departure and knew on the spot that he was meant for me. I called his breeder to ask if the puppy was still available because the advert was quite old, and she said “yes!” A month later we travelled across the country to collect him. We planned the journey as a one-off trip but fell in love with the area and ended up moving up North to start a new chapter there. Fred joined us a year later. I can honestly say that Coop mended my heart and helped me re-discover life. Fred completed the family. They are related (and also turned out to be related to Oscar, which warms my heart every time I think of it), but completely different. Coop is a gentle goofy dreamer who really enjoys smelling flowers, and Fred is a very matter-of-fact kind of pup eager to hunt pheasants or sniff out bunnies.
When you are not working where do you like to head out with the dogs?
We live in the countryside, so long walks through the fields with the pups is what makes me the happiest. I don’t tend to be specific with landmarks - it’s more about the sense of space, feeling of freedom and joy of seeing my boys happy.
What essentials do you always have on you when heading our for a dog walk, and what do you carry them in?
We never leave the house without treats - cockers love food and they’d be very disappointed if I had nothing with me. Normally I’d have some kibble plus a few home-made biscuits. Of course, as unglamorous as it sounds, poop bags are a must.
If we plan a long walk, I take a bottle of water and a tiny first aid kit that I usually assemble myself.
I am very picky about the bags I use. I have a few cross-body flap bags and a leather rucksack. The choice depends on the season and my outfit.
What adventures do you have planned together for later this year?
Last year taught me not to make many plans. I will be happy with whatever comes my way. Right now, as long as we can have a walk every day and everyone is safe and well, I couldn’t ask for more. When things improve and we can travel I’d love to get to the sandy Norfolk beaches, stroll around pretty villages around Lincolnshire and head off to Yorkshire to discover new places to fall in love with.
You can follow Natalia, Fred and Cooper adventures together on Instagram and Check out more about Natalia's work and 'Beyond the Doughnut' Here