Videos as a Business Valentine, Or: Personalizing Your Message About Consumer Love

By Dave Ratner

Consider this column a sequel to my previous piece about the value of creating informative – and personalized – videos that secure a brand’s identity.


The point is not to simply film and upload a series of videos about this or that topic, delivering accurate but uninspiring information to consumers.


Those clips, with their monotone expression or generic narration, which are often the result of having outsourced the writing and recording of a boring script to anonymous workers overseas; the proliferation of these videos on YouTube and company websites, for every conceivable industry on behalf of every imaginable customer, are a lesson in how to deflate a brand’s influence; they are a reminder, in short, of what not to do.


Understand, too, that you need not be a method actor with a flair for the melodramatic, channeling your inner Marlon Brando with a series of facial tics, elongated pauses and distant looks (to the enlarged cue cards taped to the ceiling), as you wastefully complicate a straightforward statement.


For a funny take on how not to act, this bit between Dustin Hoffman and the late Sydney Pollack, the respective star and director of “Tootsie,” should be a must-see piece before you film anything.


I write these words with plenty of humility because, in my role as the Founder of Dave’s Pet Food and Dave’s Soda and Pet Food City, and as the namesake of my own personal site,, I know how important – and at the same time, humbling – it is to be the “star” of your own videos.


You can watch some of my clips herehere and here.


The real star of these videos is the product I present to viewers, or the workplace culture I share and celebrate online, which is the reason I enjoy shooting these spots.


The videos are also an outlet, one of many, for me to give thanks to consumers for their loyal support, spirited word-of-mouth marketing and preference for independent retailers.


And, in conveying my appreciation and revealing the humorous side of my personality, I hope this one word captures everything I produce (on behalf of my brand) and represent as an individual. That word is authenticity.


I am, if nothing else, authentic; I am a what-you-see-is-what-you-get entrepreneur, friend, citizen and member of my community. There is no artifice to what I say, no mystery to the virtues I uphold.


Sincerity of Belief and a Multitude of Believers: The Consumers Behind a Great Brand


By demonstrating my gratitude – by putting myself in front of the camera – I am, I suppose, a man for all mediums . . . because I also distill my thoughts in writing.


These principles are the inspiration behind my videos and the basis of my book, Creating Customer Love: Make Your Customers Love You So Much They’ll Never Go Anyplace Else!


That love is reciprocal. It is real because it is the result of a never-ending courtship, where each visit to a store (or each visit to that store’s website) is a personalized experience; where even something as basic as an online transaction, the simple click-confirm-and-proceed-to-checkout process of buying a product, upholds the look and feel of a brand’s identity.


In other words, there is nothing ordinary or forgettable – there should never be anything inconsequential – about a romance between a business and its consumers.


Hence the purpose of an everlasting courtship: It is does not have an expiration date; it will not weaken or vanish, unless a retailer – by design or indifference – chooses to squander such reservoirs of goodwill.


Let love infuse your work.


Let it inspire your customers.


Let it be the basis of all you say and do.


Dave’s Introduces the LOC Card

We are pleased to let you know that you can now get your very own LOC Card at Dave’s!  Our community is leading the way in bringing convenience to shoppers and Dave’s is proud to be part of it.

Over the years Dave has listened to my customers concerns, wants and needs. It has been his mission to provide you with an experience that is better than you receive elsewhere. Being a consumer, he understands the frustration of joining and then managing multiple loyalty programs. Consequently, in an attempt to make life easier for my customers and simplify your shopping experiences, We have partnered with the LOC card. The LOC card is a universal card that allows you to tie all loyalty cards to one card and manage those loyalty programs from a single website.  All your current Club Dave’s points will transfer to the LOC Card once you set up your account and tie it to your Club Dave’s card number. How easy is that!

You can register on line by visiting Or you can create your account before you even get to the store. You can also learn more about the LOC Card by watching this short video at

Don’t forget to tell all your friends to shop at Dave’s and pick up their LOC Card. Spread the word and join the movement! One card for all your loyalty programs!

Please feel free to contact us directly if you have any questions or suggestions. We hope you’ll join us in the launch of this new service for Club Dave’s members!

See you in the stores!

Meet Dave and Terri of Willow Run Boarding and Grooming Kennel

Meet Dave and Terri Allen
Willow Run Boarding and Grooming Kennel in Kernersville, NC
Why the kenneling/boarding business? I can imagine it’s not easy.d&T-page-001
It seems we were “called’ to the kennel boarding business by timing and circumstances! you see, we ere always involved with animals, specifically horses and dogs. we used to babysit our friends animals while they went away and they would babysit ours when would would take they horses away or 3-5 day trails rides….but the dog sitting grew grew and grew for us and it was not feasible to build a facility on the farm that we lived on then. at the same time, both sets of parents living in South Carolina were relying on our assistance more and more. We knew we needed to make some changes and timing was everything as they say. To make a long story shorter, here we are from Maryland to NC since 2006, providing “hotel services” for people and their pets! The need for reliable, safe and trustworthy care while people are away on vacation, business, family emergencies, local hospital stays or just having the dog away from the house while doing repairs is a real need that many people cannot grasp until you need that service yourself! We are so fortunate to enjoy our career circumstances and our great clientele to support us- It can difficult that is for sure but it is definitely rewarding to us!
What do you love the most about Dave’s Pet Food?
We love that it is consistent in quality and ingredients- we really really depend on that as we feed hundreds of seasonal clients dogs and our own Dave’s every day, twice a day here! We recommend it and retail too at a reasonable price point that you cannot beat compared to some other brands that are twice as expensive and our clients appreciate that! Terri grooms here also and it is great to recommend a food that has no corn,wheat soy or gluten to clients with “skin and allergy” problems…we have taught many people about diet and corrected their dog’s issues over the years!
What is your favorite part about what you do?
We think one of the favorite parts of our business is doing the best we can to provide the best services, food, and honest dog care while their owners are away and the see the faces of the first time boarding owners when they return (sometimes thinking the worst or having guilt) and the dog turns around and wants to stay here with us and heads back to the kennels!

Do you have any of your own pets? Names/ages?

We have 10 dogs of our own- of course, rescues and adoptions have come and gone over the years but right now:
Pandora, cattle dog-14 yrs,
Beau, corgi 12 yrs
Bindie, Frenchie 18 mos
Meanie, Frenchie 18 weeks
Gizmo, Dandee, Tinker, Weedles, Bitty and Diego- chihuahuas aged 7 to 11yrs.

oh, don’t forget we still have our horses- Teddy a quarter horse 26yrs, Platinum a Tennessee Walking horse 15yrs, Blue a Paso Fino 14 yrs and Spyke a Tenessee walker that is 19yrs
Want to be the featured retailer of the week? Write lizzy at davespetcity dot com

Meet a Dave’s Pet Food retailer: Purrrfect Bark – Pet Supplies

Eric Mack is the first of our “Meet a Retailer” series where you can meet the independent labels that sell Dave’s Pet Food. mack_ePurrfect Bark – Pet Supplies is located in Columbus, North Carolina.

Five Fast Questions:

Why do you carry Dave’s Pet Food?

Dave’s gives us a wide rotation of grain free options that can compete with the grocery store shoppers. 

Do you have any pets?

Bailey – 3 year old Shih Tzu
Sophie – 1 year old Shih Tzu
Bella – 7 month old Lab mix
Kisa – Hospice Foster Cat, unknown age.
What is your favorite part about owning and operating a pet supply store?
Helping people with their pets, educating and seeing all the new products that come out. Plus, bringing your dog to work every day rocks.
What do you feed your pets?
We feed raw. Rotation of brands. Cats are mixed in with canned foods as well.


Lee Chambers

Lee Chambers

By Lee Chambers
Dakin Humane Society

Whether or not you have a dog, you’ve probably heard about the deadly outbreak of canine parvovirus that has been plaguing the Springfield area. For those who don’t know, parvovirus (or “parvo”) attacks a dog’s intestinal tract and white blood cells, and (in the case of young infected animals) can damage the heart muscle and cause lifelong cardiac problems. This disease is very bad news. It’s highly contagious…and often fatal.

The general symptoms of parvo are lethargy, severe vomiting, loss of appetite and bloody, foul-smelling diarrhea that can lead to severe dehydration. Veterinarians can diagnose parvo through laboratory testing, but treatment (which can include hospitalization, antibiotics, IV fluids and other therapies) can be expensive. In some cases, unfortunately, dogs still don’t survive.

The virus is especially dangerous and can be transmitted by any person, animal or object that comes into contact with an infected dog’s feces or vomit, in even the most microscopic bits. Able to stay in an environment for months, parvo can survive on common items like a food bowl, your shoes, clothes, carpets, rugs and floors. Unvaccinated dogs can easily contract this disease from the streets, especially in urban areas.

While these facts are daunting, it’s important to know that all of this can be prevented…with a simple vaccination. And help is on its way.

Dakin Humane Society has been geographically tracking the cases of parvo that have been found in dogs who have been brought to us. In response we are holding free parvo vaccine clinics in the two most-affected neighborhoods in Springfield. Also, Thomas J. O’Connor Animal Control & Adoption Center is presenting its own free parvo vaccine clinic in Springfield in partnership with ABC-40. All three of the clinics are available for Springfield residents while supplies last. Here’s the lineup:

  1. Saturday, August 30th, 233 Allen Street, 1:00-3:00 pm (presented by Dakin Humane Society)
  2. Wednesday, September 10th, 1330 Liberty Street (ABC-40 parking lot), 5:00-7:00 pm (presented by Thomas J. O’Connor Animal Control & Adoption Center and ABC-40)
  3. Saturday, September 13th, 5 Catherine Street (corner of Catherine and State), 1:00-3:00 pm (presented by Dakin Humane Society)

Please note the following guidelines for participating in these clinics:

  • If your dog has a current rabies vaccine, please bring the paper certificate otherwise the dog will receive another rabies vaccine (also at no charge).
  • Your dog must be leashed or in a carrier and must be healthy. The vaccine will not cure a sick dog of the disease. If you believe your dog is showing symptoms of parvovirus, please call a veterinarian immediately.
  • Puppies must be at least 6 weeks old.
  • There are no vaccines available at this clinic for cats. Please leave them home.

If you don’t live in Springfield, want to vaccinate your dog and find standard fees challenging, Dakin Humane Society also offers a low-cost clinic every Thursday morning from 9:00 am to 10:00 am at our 171 Union Street location. This weekly clinic provides services beyond vaccines and can also serve cats. No appointment is necessary. For more information, visit You may also visit to search for affordable options in your area.

Regardless of where you live, please take this vital step to protect your pet’s health. We want you to spend many happy “dog years” together.

Homesickness for your pets

This one’s a little personal and I”m looking for others who have dealt with it. I don’t have any kids, but I do have two rescue cats that

From left, Maebe and Lucille

From left, Maebe and Lucille

mean more than the world to me.

For the next month or so, I am working on a freelance project in New York City and my girls are in Springfield, Ma. with my sister. My sister is an animal lover, maybe more than me, (but I doubt it 🙂 so Lucille and Maebe are in terrific hands. But my heart breaks that I don’t come home to them every night. I”m afraid they will forget about me. Ginny sends me photos pretty much daily, and we’ve FaceTime’d once.

The Facetiming was heartbreaking. My little girl, Maebe, heard my voice and came running immediately. Lucille, my older girl just stared. She’s the more stubborn one, but still, made me feel like a terrible cat mom. I miss them terribly, and I”d love to hear how all of you dealt with being away from your pets for long periods because, like, you  can’t explain to them that you have to go away for a little while but you love them and YOU WILL BE BACK.

Share your stories if you wish, and believe me company will help lift my spirits a bit.

Dakin and Dave’s are back with a very, very special treat

Eliza Fischer

Eliza Fischer

We have a huge treat this month from our friends at Dakin Humane Society. Eliza Fischer, Adoption Counselor, is going to talk about introducing new animals to each other as we all know can be a very daunting task. Enjoy!

Being an adoption counselor at Dakin means I (and my fellow counselors) get asked questions all the time about animal health and behavior. One of the most popular topics is blending a new cat into a house with an adult cat or dog already in residence. It’s a very particular process that can be made fairly easy when you follow the correct steps, and – hopefully – have pets with pretty friendly dispositions!

I recently blended households and my 4 cats are now living with 3 other cats – yep, 7 cats! It is definitely a lot of work, but making sure everyone is happy is a priority. When I moved my cats (one is 16 years old and had never moved) they all went straight into one room where they stayed for 3 weeks. After that time 2 of them showed some interest in exploring and they were allowed to do so. One of my more sensitive cats still had not shown interest in leaving the room after 5 weeks.   Change is very hard for cats and allowing them to adjust at their own pace is extremely important. Although they are now full acclimated to the home, they still go to that room when they are feeling overwhelmed or just need a relaxing nap.

In an effort to help you with your “blend,” I’d like to offer some helpful suggestions:

Bringing the new cat home:

Any new cat should have a safe room where they will stay for their first few days at home (if you’re bringing home more than one cat, they can share this room). Before the new cat arrives, be sure you’ve equipped the room with a litter box, food, water, toys and a scratching post. When you bring the new cat home, put her in this room to adjust to the house.

When you bring your new cat home, place the carrier in the safe room and open the door. Do not force her out; let her take her time as she needs to adjust to her new surroundings at her own pace.

Visit with the cat often, but don’t force interaction. Let her come to you.   Give her some food treats so she’ll make a positive association with your visits.

Introducing the new cat to the resident cat:

It’s a good idea to keep the new kitty in her safe room for at least her first 10 days home. During that time, the cats will get used to each other’s scent before they meet and start to be used to their presence. Once your new cat seems comfortable in her room, you can slowly introduce the cats to each other. Here’s how you should undertake that:


  1. Open the door to the door to the new cat’s room a few inches and let the cats sniff each other. Provide food treats and play to each cat. If they growl, hiss or swat at each other, close the door and try again later. This is to be expected, so don’t despair! You can even try having their first meeting take place at meal time. Get your original cat started on her favorite wet food, and then bring in the new cat and offer her some food as well.
  1. When the visits through the cracked door are going well, open the door for short supervised visits (half an hour at first). Provide play and treats to each cat when they are together.
  1. Continue doing this, increasing the amount of time the cats are together
  1. Never punish a cat for being aggressive toward another. This will just make them more upset and associate bad things with the other cat. If things get out of hand, calmly separate the cats. Some fighting should be expected while they work out their territories.
  1. Expect it to take from 2 weeks to 2 months or more for the cats to establish the rules of territory with each other.


Introducing the new cat to the resident dog:

If you have a dog at home, it’s a good idea to set up a safe room for the new cat as described above. When the cat is comfortable in her safe room, allow her to explore the rest of the house for short periods of time when the dog is outside. When she seems comfortable in the house, then it’s time to have her meet the dog.

Make sure the dog is under control when interacting with the cat (for example, put the dog on a leash). Place the cat onto a high surface and walk the dog into the room. Then follow these instructions:


  1. Walk the dog around the room, but don’t let him off the leash.
  1. Do not allow the dog to act inappropriately with the cat (barking, lunging, chasing).
  1. Start with half-hour visits and then return the cat to the safe room.
  1. Slowly increase the amount of time you allow these supervised visits.
  1. Always reward friendly visits with praise, food treats and play. Make a positive association for both of them.
  1. Do not rush the introduction or force them to be together.
  1. For the first few weeks, keep a light leash on the dog if he’s prone to chasing. At the first sign of a chase, step on the leash and call the dog to you, then reward him with a treat or play.


Blending a new pet into a household with an existing one can be tough work, but the end result, when it’s good, is always worth the effort! Just remember to be patient…your pet is bound to be territorial when it comes to “their turf,” and they will view the new arrival as an interloper. Just be sure to follow these steps to ease your pet’s anxiety and before you know it…everyone will be curling up together for naps!

Traveling with your pets

No one wants to do this. Ever. I once had to drive two hours with a cat and it was pretty much the worst thing ever. They hate the cages and the crying and you just feel terrible. Nevermind airplanes. There have been horror stories from forever about how cats are treated when they pettraveltravel, what happens when they end up as cargo. I cried myself to sleep the night that they found out what happen to Jack who had been lost at JFK Airport in New York City. So I reached to all of you to tell me what is the best way to travel with a pet.

Sue Muncy suggested that dogs just love driving in a van. My Mom said the same thing, they drove with three dogs and two cats (I think) from upstate New Hampshire all the way to Austin Texas. As long as there’s space to move and frequent bathroom breaks, doggies are happy with the breezes on their faces. Keep plenty of water and food on hand, if they need medicine keep that around too. Cats are more tricky. My mom nearly lost a cat on this same trip (Karen Cat made it safely, she had just hidden herself) but it’s safer to keep them in carriers so they don’t escape. If you’re stopped, letting them look out the Winnebago is cool but always ALWAYS have at least one eye on them. Lucky for us though, cats are easily played with food. And make sure everyone is micro chipped in case of emergency.

Ok, with regard to air travel, you must always call ahead, but some of our Friends of Dave had some great stories about certain airlines. Alaska Airlines treated Carol McGivney’s kitten extremely well and received a very high recommendation from her breeder. Mija Sipuedo  has a small service dog that is allowed to ride on her lap throughout a flight. My sister will be traveling from Boston to Texas come next week, and has purchased an extra seat and two carriers for her and her cats to be flying on JetBlue. It appears that there are options, though I never heard from someone with a bigger dog.

Two of my mom’s dogs are bigger, and they survived the bigger winnebago trip just fine, and possibly enjoyed it. Tell us about traveling with your pets!

Pets in the bed: Yes or No

pets and the bed

The jury has been out for a very long time on whether or not it’s good for pets to sleep in the beds of their human counterparts. On one hand, it’s much easier to move over than it is to deal with a whining/crying/meowing animal right outside your door. On the other hand, it’s likely their nighttime stirring wouldn’t mesh up with yours and could end up with an unrestful night sleep for a human and the possibility of developing a sleep disorder. Crating is another option, but that can also be loud and frustrating and take time you don’t have to adjust a dog.

A Mayo Clinic Sleep Disorder study found that in a sleep study about half those studied had a dog or cat, and 53 percent of those owners dealt with some sort of nightly sleep disruption due to the pet’s presence.

“I’ve had patients that I’ve spent visit after visit going over their insomnia problems, trying to figure out what’s happening, then I find out they have a dog that’s scratching all night,” says Lisa Shives, MD, medical director of Northshore Sleep Medicine, a sleep center outside Chicago, told Web MD.

I guess that would explain a few things.

It’s recommended for those with allergies to avoid sleeping in the same room with pets. If you’re going to do it anyway, definitely get allergy shots and stock up on Benadryl (both for sleep and for allergy relief) to alleviate the symptoms. The shots will build up your tolerance to the allergy.

On the flip side, if your doggy or cat doesn’t give you any issues, it’s perfectly fine to share your sleeping space. I have two cats, we share a queen sized bed and there are few issues. The issue is when they decide to play tag at 3 a.m. Keep some food handy and subject them to food coma. At least that’s the tact that this cranky girl takes.

Basically, it seems like if it works for you, it’s fine. But if you develop sleep problems, you may want to revisit extra company in the bed.

If you have any suggestions, tips, photos, ways you deal with your pets and the bed, let us know, either here or on Facebook. We love feedback.



Pets and severe weather: What’s the best course of action

It’s severe weather season across the country so lightning and especially thunder are daily scareddogoccurrences in your pet’s life. Some humans (like me) aren’t especially fond of the loud noises and scary light flashes. Other than a few ear perks and if it’s an especially loud clap, my cats are mostly indifferent to weather. They do enjoy watching rain and are fascinated by snow (watching them bat the window is just about the most hilarious thing ever) but severe weather doesn’t faze them. I do have one friend who’s cat heads straight for the bay window cat tree in the event of a thunderstorm. Mikko loves his lightning.

Dogs are another story. A co worker I spoke with has two dogs, one who doesn’t care, and the other who heads for the nearest closet. She’s tried Thundershirts and all the natural remedies and nothing seems to work, other than just letting the dog ride out the storm. An article in the July/August 2001 issue of the Journal of the American Animal Hospital Association says that herding dogs like collies and German shepherds are more prone to developing phobias to severe weather. There is a long process called systematic desensitization where owners can use flashlights and recordings of storms to make their dogs less frightening of the weather, but just giving the dog a safe place and some reassurance that it will all be OK is also a perfectly acceptable response.

It’s also thought that dogs can sense thunderstorms as they can feel drops in air pressure or increased electricity in the air, so they will pace and whine up to a half hour before a storm hits. In conclusion, if you have a fraidy cat or a fraidy dog, just make sure they have a safe and comfortable place to hang out until the storm goes away, and talk softly to them during.