PONDERAY — Promoting healthy eating among furry friends is the goal of Ponderay's newest pet store, Paws Pet Pantry.
"We concentrate on nutrition and health," said owner Jim Ferguson.
To that end, the products are all-natural and besides the Victor products, he said, the brands could not be found locally — until now.
The store is a family-owned by Jim and Judi Ferguson, along with their son and daughter-in-law, Michael and Jennifer Ferguson.
Jim Ferguson said his daughter-in-law was the driving force in opening the store.
"I have always been an animal lover," she said.
Formerly an architect, Jennifer Ferguson said she had to quit working in 2009 after developing rheumatoid arthritis. She decided she wanted to start showing dogs and purchased rat terriers. She also owned chocolate labs and as they reached 8-10 years old, they got cancer and other illnesses, she said.
But it was when she got the rat terriers that she realized what she thought was good food might not be so great for her furry friends. One of the pups, at 6 months old, began throwing up its food. Because the food was whole when it came up several hours after eating, she concluded it was a digestion issue.
"So that's when I got into the healthy thinking with animals and dogs," she said.
Now, one of her rat terriers is heading to Westminster next week, she said. Through showing and breeding dogs, she met the woman who owns Pet Pantry in Yakima, Wash., she said, which also focuses on pet health and nutrition, and they quickly became friends.
"I have always loved her store, and this whole thing with nutrition for dogs and cats, I wanted to be a part of that," she said.
So she and her husband teamed up with Jim and Judi Ferguson, who lived in Hawaii for 10 years before moving to the Sandpoint area. Jim Ferguson said they came to the area on vacation to visit their son and daughter-in-law, and when they crossed the Long Bridge, his wife said, "I want to move here."
Paws Pet Pantry opened on Feb. 1, and although they are not fully stocked yet, there are plenty of healthy food and treat items to choose from.
The store also provides a self-service dog wash area with three stations.
"We provide the shampoos, the water, the dryer, the towels, aprons, and when they are all through, we do the cleanup," Jim Ferguson said.
They will provide dog grooming in the future as well, he said, as there is already a designated space for up to two grooming stations. "Scrub Club" prices range from $10-18 depending on the size of the pup.
A donation box is set up in the store for the Panhandle Animal Shelter, and Jennifer Ferguson said they anytime they receive a ripped or damaged bag, it will be donated to PAS. She encourages anyone who would like to purchase an item and donate it to do so as well.
Paws Pet Pantry is located at 476534 Highway 95, next to Subway in Ponderay.
Mary Malone can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter @MaryDailyBee.