The Fresh Life: Must Love Dogs
Wilma and Stan Aungst have turned their love for dogs into a full-time passion.
Although the couple, Stan, a senior lecturer for security and risk analysis at Penn State and Wilma, who works for donor services in development at Penn State, have careers, their love lies in raising German Shepherds at their home among the state game lands near Bellefonte.
After the love and loss of many dogs, trial and error, and plenty of research and help from a homeopathic veterinarian, Wilma has come up with the ultimate feeding schedule and formula for her six shepherds.
The love for the German Shepherd breed started many years ago. One of their first shepherds was an AKC registered shepherd from a breeder in Florida The dog was skinny and its coat was thin and after $1,000 dollars worth of testing, they found a hole in the esophagus of the dogs throat not allowing food to enter its stomach.
The couple fed him from a ladder which allowed the throat to be at an angle for proper consumption. They had this dog for approximately seven years until the next episode of chance. While Stan was on the PSU campus, a large white mixed Shepherd breed approached him.
The girls who were following behind the dog asked if Aungst wanted to adopt the dog. He couldn’t resist. Unfortunately, that dog passed away at a young age and the couple continued to rescue shepherds who seemed to have uncommon ailments and would break their hearts when they passed.
Wilma explained in detail the story of how she obtained each one of her dogs and how each one had passed.
“All these dogs seemed to have ailments. We bought the best dry dog food and gave them fresh well water but, they always died of strange diseases,” she said.
She explained that she liked to give her dogs strong warrior names but, no longer does so because warriors don’t live long lives. The stories were uplifting and heartbreaking in the same manner.
Wilma decided to find an online breeder of true and well bred German Shepherds so she could raise one from a puppy and know that there was better structure, coat, temperament and drive to start with than an older rescues which came with unidentified backgrounds.
She started obedience training with the dog and the sport of Schutzhund, which is what the Germans use to determine breed worthiness by testing the strength, temperament, endurance, confirmation and tracking, for instance.
At one point, Aungst even attended a world Sieger show in Germany, which is basically the best male dog contest. She said it was a “wonderful experience.”
As Aungst continued obedience with training for her Shepherd she became interested in traveling to watch and learn about showing and wilderness search and rescue dogs, which she and one of her Shepherds became involved in for awhile until she decided to stop.
“Let others who are more passionate about (search and rescue) or with more courage do it,” she said.
Continuing to show and learn, Aungst also became broken hearted by the death of another dog. With the passing of any dog she thinks, “What can I do better?”
Aungst sought the advice of a homeopathic veterinarian located in Berkley Springs, W. Va., in hopes of improving her dog’s immune systems. With the help of this vet and her own research, Aungst switched feeding her dogs commercial dry dog food which has unknown ingredients and toxins to a whole organic diet. The original feeding plan consisted of 20 percent over cooked grains, 40 percent Leona ground meat and 40 percent vegetables.
Wilma has started to eliminate grains though because grains turn to sugar and there has been no change in the dog’s health by eliminating them. Aungst tries to simulate what the Shepherds would eat naturally, if in the wild such as Quinoa and Millet as opposed to oats and barley. In addition to the mix, a vitamin C complex in powder form, vitamin E in capsules, and ABC plus, a horse supplement which is full of minerals, is given daily.
The dogs also get their daily dose of omega 3’s through salmon, flax seed or hemp oil. Through research Aungst has found that feeding seasonal diets are important as well. By adjusting supplements and vegetables the dogs stay naturally healthy year round. She found that dogs can have seasonal allergies which the proper diet could manage. Also, things like pumpkin are great for a dog with an upset stomach.
Currently, the Aungsts have a strict routine with the Shepherds.
Upon waking, Wilma takes the two “house” shepherds outside while her husband cleans the kennels (this happens three times per day). She then brushes each dog and lets them take turn having “house time” while she prepares cottage cheese and homemade kefir and gets the meat out for the evening feeding.
The dogs also get Stoneyfield Organic yogurt and carrots as a snack. After work and before entering the house, Wilma greets her six shepherds then spends the better share of an hour cleaning dishes, preparing the vegetables and dividing up portions of the mixture for the dogs.
Two of the Shepherds get a supplement for hip displasia that keeps the cartilage and joints healthy. As well as the mix, each dog gets a serving of chicken with bone. This includes the neck, thigh or wings.
The couple’s biggest attribute for the successful feeding of their Shepherds is the butcher shop where they obtain the raw dog food mixture. Leona Meat Plant in Troy, Pa., which is owned and operated by Chick and Mike Debach, have been providing approximately 160 pounds of the meat mixture consisting of heart, tongue, liver, kidney and suet meat for about five years. Also, the hearts, livers, gizzards, and neck of chickens are ordered.
Every three to four weeks Stan Aungst make the trip north to visit the USDA inspected butcher shop that prides itself in providing custom cut meats and old fashioned hickory smoked products. The couple feed the German Shepherds approximately five pounds of meat per day.
Although she doesn’t show the shepherds anymore, they continue to do some tracking work and obedience training and to reiterate boundaries and because they enjoy the one on one attention. The couple has installed a high tunnel greenhouse on their property in order to raise vegetable for themselves and the shepherds and anytime Aungst is not working at Penn State, she is spending time with her dogs.
She is “extremely passionate,” about her six German Shepherds.
“I get a lot of enjoyment out of them,” she said.
They have a 50 by 90-foot safe space to run and play and a great diet of Leona meat, vegetables, vitamins and cultures. Aungst attributes their healthy weight, great attitude, happiness and overall health to the diet.
“Food is medicine,” Wilma Aungst said, “and medicine is food.”