I spent last Friday working from the house, so there wasn’t much opportunity for shopping, but I did run out to Dolittle’s in South Windermere for some pet food. Hungry cats are really annoying, especially when you’re trying to work.

The shop is owned and operated by Ric Sommons, a close friend of mine. It’s funny to think that I didn’t always shop at Dolittle’s, even though I’ve been friends with Ric and his family for a long time. See, I’d had a very expensive dog for many years. Lucy was a parvo puppy. She’d survived the dreaded canine sickness only to spend a lifetime suffering from myriad allergies. She could only eat venison, potato, and turkey — and in those days, dog food was either wheat, corn, and beef or lamb and rice. If she did get any of those ingredients, or if she walked on grass, she would get ear infections, inflamed skin, and swollen paws. The poor thing would chew herself sick.

Needless to say, as a poor college student and then an even poorer newspaper editor, I had to spend $30 every other week on a bag of venison and potato food at the veterinarian’s office. When Lucy passed away, I rebelled against the specialty foods. Our other dog Zelda didn’t need it. She was as healthy as could be, hitting 40 mph when she chased cars in the neighborhood. So I stopped buying good dog food and went with the cheapest crap I could find. Crap being the operative word, since she produced an awful lot of it for such a small dog.

I’m not sure when I relented and went back to buying wholesome pet food, but one day Ric mentioned (oh so very tactfully) my lack of patronage at his store, and a light bulb went off. Of course, I should support his local business. Not only was he a friend, but he was a longtime City Paper advertiser. What was I thinking buying junky dog food at the grocery store (or worse, Walmart!)?

I’m truly glad I started shopping there, because Zelda (and later GoGo, Jellybean, Black Kitty, and Baby Kitty ) were much better off for it, especially when dog food made with corn started poisoning dogs across the country a few years back. During the media frenzy, Ric made a point of giving his customers the latest facts and informing them of his long-standing no-corn policies. Just try and get that sort of service and knowledge from a kid at Petco.