In 2012 Canadian Freestyle skier Sarah Burke passed away, leaving behind her husband Rory Bushfield and Dex, the dog they saved and raised together.
After losing his partner Bushfield started the Sarah Burke Foundation to support and inspire women in sport, awarding scholarships to amateur athletes.
Now he has partnered with friend Blair Harper, a Kamloops resident, to start a company which puts some of its profits toward the foundation.
Their company is unique. Dex Knows Best delivers healthy dog food straight to the consumer on a subscription basis.
It was a natural fit for the duo. Both have four legged best friends, Bushfield with Dex and Harper with Leelo. Professional athlete Bushfield can be found around his home in Squamish adventuring with Dex at his side.
The grain, gluten, wheat, by-product and artificial flavour free food is shipped on a schedule worked out by the company for individual pets to ensure each bag arrives just in time.
Harper said getting it off the ground while still working full time was difficult.
“It’s taken three years from concept to completion,” he said. “We were just picking up the phone, it took a lot of planning and hard work.”
They enlisted the help of a nutritionist for the recipe and found manufacturers and packers in the Lower Mainland. Website development proved to be a challenge but their sleek site doesn’t give it away.
On Nov. 20, 2018 they officially launched, and with the help of social media postings and word of mouth, began to send packages of kibble across B.C., Alberta and as far as Toronto, Ont.
Since launching they’ve learned a lot, Harper said. Bags of dog food aren’t simple to ship and the calculations on just when to send them off are tricky.
But, he added, consumers have loved the product.
“People have been loving it and dogs have been loving it,” Harper said. “We’re converting people who thought their dogs had allergies but it was poor ingredients. Dex Knows is very clean, very high protein.”
He added consumers appreciate that ingredients are sourced in B.C. and mixed near Vancouver.
Looking forward, Harper and Bushfield have their eyes on CBD products for dogs and potentially some retail locations, though Harper said their first focus is to solidify the subscription service.
Along the way they plan to continue supporting causes close to their heart, like providing food to Paws it Forward in Kelowna and always donating a portion of each bag sold to Burke’s foundation.
“Sarah was a legacy and she did a lot for skiing.”
And what would she think of the business named after her dog?
“Sarah would be blown away,” Harper said. “I think she’d be really proud. She took risks and loved adventure and living fast. That’s what life’s all about and that’s what we’re doing.”