Going green has gone to the dogs

HOUSTON And that is the driving force behind a new business opening soon in Sugar Land.

They started the business for selfish reasons -- a better diet and a healthier life for their dogs. Now, a Woodlands' couple's vision has expanded all the way to Sugar Land, where being green and loving their pets can co-exist as one.

They already get bathed, clipped, and primped. Now, they get their own organic food store..

"It's important for them to have a dog store, but I don't know if they really need an organic or Whole Foods type place," dog owner Bekah Ditz said.

Doubting dog owners have never met Nadine Joli-Coeur, who eagerly shows the variety of all-natural, no-filler, organic pet food she carries at her store -- an idea that began when her own dog suffered severe allergies.

"At my wits end, I started to change the food," she said. "And I noticed a huge difference in her allergies, her hair started to grow back, and she stopped itching."

Fast forward to four years later, and Joli-Coeur and her husband have left their former high-tech careers and are set to open their third Natural Pawz all organic pet food store. And she's not alone. Large chain stores like Pets-Mart are seeing a demand for natural foods for pets.

"We've been getting more and more customers on a regular basis asking for organic or natural products," Pets-Mart manager Jack Smith said.

Some of the food looks so natural you might think you can just throw it on your grill, which begs the question, "Why not just give them human food?"

"It's not just a piece of hamburger meat or chicken," Joli-Coeur said. "It's got vegetables and everything they need for a complete diet."

And while human food may not always be fit for dogs, some of the dog treats appear alright even for reporters.

"Okay, these are actually not bad," KTRK reporter Miya Shay said.

And it appears the dogs are more than happy to chow down on organic fare. Joli-Coeur, though, is quick to say that this isn't just a trendy bandwagon. It's actually a lifestyle choice for her and for her pets.

"We recycle all of our cardboard boxes," she said. "I think it's not just trendy, but a way of thinking and a way of being. It's something really important to us."

The Sugar Land store's official grand opening is Saturday morning. Joli-Coeur says so far, the green dog business appears to be doing well. Even with the high gas prices and a lagging economy, her business is actually on the increase.

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