In this episode your hosts Sarah and Marisa from Puppy Gang Fresh Foods are chatting with Nasim Mansour Founder of Buttonnoses Dog Rescue in Toronto. In This episode, we will learn the story of how this wonderful organization for under 10 lb dogs got started and the importance of holistic health for tiny pups!
We're so excited to be talking to Nasim Mansour who is the founder of Button Noses. Button Noses is a community of tiny dogs with a big purpose. And I've personally been so excited to say, we absolutely love what Nasim does for small dogs. And we also feel so privileged that the Buttonnoses dogs eat Puppy Gang Fresh Foods for their meals as well.
To start us off, we would love for you to tell our listeners how you got started with Button Noses and what you focus on through your mission with Button Noses.
Wow, well, Button Noses and the way it was created, it has been quite a journey. I come from a corporate background, I worked as an engineer for 15 years before I decided to do a complete 180 shift and focus more on working with animals rather than engineers.
It was back in 2014 when I made the change and started Button Noses and when it first came about Button Noses was created as a pet care business. But I always had it in mind that somehow I want this to go beyond providing pet care like dog walking, boarding, that kind of stuff for tiny dogs.
I wanted to go above and beyond that and and serve a bigger purpose.
Even back in the days when I was working as an engineer, I was always involved in the rescue world as a foster parent as a volunteer heavily involved basically dedicating every free minute of my life to saving lives of tiny dogs.
So that would that was where my passion was. And I decided that okay, maybe we can now have Button Noses as rescue added to what we do in Buttonnoses.
And while we only had the pet care, I kept getting approached by different people just because I was always known as the, for the rescue lady for tiny dogs, I kept getting asked about dogs that needed rescueing. And if I had any leads to put them in touch with rescues that could help them.
But then I've realized that unfortunately, the most vulnerable ones, which are seniors and special needs dogs, those were the ones that were the least desirable to be taken by rescues.
And I guess I can somehow see why, for obvious reasons.
Number one, their care is very expensive, their vetting, and you know, they're older and they have a lot of vet bills. Also they stay in foster for longer time.
And also finding the appropriate and skilled foster homes that can provide the required care for these special needs dogs is not easy. So a lot of times these dogs were just passed along and not a lot of rescues were willing to take them.
So the day that I launched the rescue aspect of Button Noses, I decided to focus more on senior and special needs dogs so that our first intake was January of 2016.
And so exactly four years later, we have been in operation and we have been able to help 98 dogs, and most of them have been senior in special needs.
And I mean, if you first look at the number 98 and four years, it's not such a glamorous number you're like it doesn't see much. When you look at other well established organizations, you see like hundreds or 1000s of dogs and cats being held every year.
But then when you look at a few things, the fact that number one, we are a very small organization, only a handful of people running it. We're not a lot but every one of us are very dedicated to what we're doing. And also because most of the dogs that come to us are very expensive to take care of.
By the time they get to us. They're very sick, they're old, they're rundown, they need a lot of care. We do a lot of surgeries, and I'm not talking about the routine neuter and spay or dental, which we do. But we also do a lot of say heart surgeries, knee surgeries, we do lots of MRIs, and those are all very, very expensive.
The average average number that takes to take care of our dogs while they're in our care is somewhere between two to $3,000 just roughly so that doesn't allow us to just all of a sudden go out and you know taking 100 dogs at a time. Because we can't afford it at this time, but we do what we can we take each and every one of them in and and do what we can to help them, prepare them for adoption. And move to the next one. One part of the rescue that I'm very proud of is our palliative care or forever foster program. Unfortunately, a lot of these dogs, when they come to us, they are considered unadoptable, either because of their their age, or their health status, or their ongoing care is just, they cannot be successfully adopted out. And it's in their best interest to stay in our care for the rest of their lives, however long it is.
And a lot of times, it's just not long. And sometimes it could be a few years. So I'm keeping those very expensive and high maintenance dogs on on a regular basis and long term in our care. Also, that requires a lot of work, dedication, money and awesome volunteer work.
We currently have seven forever foster dogs in our care. And we have lost five in the last couple of years. Unfortunately, they have passed away. So yeah, that's that's basically our forever foster program for you.
So what you were saying about how you focus on dogs that are more special needs and have more health issues, it's really near and dear to my heart and our company values as well. Because as you know, you know, Puppy Gang Fresh Foods got started as a result of my dog, Kalinda's health journey, and she had a ton of different health problems. And if I hadn't given her home, she probably wouldn't be here today. So I think it's really wonderful that you give these dogs a fresh start at life.
Absolutely. And I find it very fulfilling. I mean, it is fulfilling always to help any animal in need. But when you have when you get the most vulnerable ones, and the ones that are really shut down and broken and neglected, and they come to you in such bad shape, and then you see them transformed right in front of your eyes, even in a matter of days to weeks. Sometimes, it's unbelievable. And nothing can be more fulfilling than that, in my opinion. It's just that what that's what makes what we do worth it.
Yeah, we totally agree. Yeah, for sure. And one of the things that you really focus on and put a lot of energy into is holistic health for all of your rescue dogs. How did you get into the holistic health path? And what changes have you seen in the dogs with the different health methods used?
Yes, absolutely. We we basically have a holistic approach to the care of our foster dogs. And we that's one of the things that sets us apart from other rescues the way I got into holistic care and got introduced to it. It all started, actually in 2008.
When I when I adopted a senior 13 year old Shih Tzu girl called Missy, she came from a rescue and she was already having kidney issues. And I remember she came with a bag of kibble. And she was not in really bad shape. But she was not in good shape either. Like you could see she was a little bit skinny, she didn't want to eat, she had no appetite.
She was just not where I wanted her to be. I took her to the vet, they checked her vitals and blood work and everything yet, the numbers clearly showed that she had a kidney condition and was declining in health. So I just brought her home.
And I thought there has to be something I can do for her other than what I'm being told, just give her these, you know, kibbles and basically hope for the best and wait until the kidneys don't work anymore. There has to be a better way there has to be something I can do. And at that point, actually, what was a game changer for me was when a good friend of mine introduced me to a book called The Hillary diet or the Hillary cookbook.
It was Hillary Watson's book, who was a pet nutritionist and she had all these home cooked recipes at the time. So I just picked that and she also had recipes for different health issues. So I picked out the one for kidney issues. I started cooking for her. And all of a sudden, everything changed for her she started showing interest in food. She started showing interest in life, her energy, her vitality, everything changed.
Even within three months, I took her back to the vet to recheck her values. They had improved and even the vet was asking you what the heck did you do because kidneys don't usually repair themselves or these numbers don't get better. They always either stay where they are for a while and then they eventually start declining but they have improved What happened and I said, I just cooked for her.
And of course, they tell you all the story, like you don't want to do that because these, these foods are not balanced or not quite appropriate. But I didn't listen, I said, Hey, this is proof that it's working. So I'm just gonna continue with this. So that's when I started getting into it. A few months later, she actually went into heart failure, and she ended up in ICU. She was there for a week. Again, at the end of the week, they said, you can either end it here or if you want, you can take her home.
But she's not going to last more than a few days or a few weeks. I said, I'm going to give it a shot. So I brought her home again, continued with cooking for her and then started adding some some supplements.
You know, I remember at the time I was blown away by by discovering Hawthorne, I was like, Oh my god, this is apparently this is good for heart. So I started adding that to her food and turmeric and a bunch of other supplements.
And three days turned into a week a week turned to months, months, turned into a couple of years. And every time I went back to the clinic, to get her rechecked by her cardiologist. They were they were in awe. They were like, how is this though, like, still alive. And I'm like she is. So she was actually known as a miracle dog at the clinic. And I have absolutely no doubt that it was specifically the holistic care that she received the foods that she was eating the good ingredients that went into the food and the supplements. Those are the ones that actually helped her and made that possible. She lived another two and a half years of happy and fulfilling life, which was amazing.
We also found the right path to help save dogs during nutrition. And were lucky to be in a position we hear those kinds of stories every day from our clients in the changes that they're seeing in their dogs and yeah, improvement and energy levels.
Absolutely, it's, it's so amazing to see the transformation of these dogs and how you're able to help them. Puppy Gang Fresh Foods has absolutely been a game changer for us too. Because when I started the rescue, I knew that I had to take care of them. Like I would take care of my own dogs while they were in our care. I just couldn't bring myself to providing you know, all the fresh and amazing supplements and food at home to my dogs went and and not do that for these dogs. And I knew that that's the only thing that can help them. Especially considering their fragile state.
They're tiny, they're sick, they're old. And they really can't take a lot of invasion of all these toxins and chemicals and all these, you know, anything that could harm them. So it has been absolutely important and essential for us to have a holistic approach to our dogs.
And now that we have the Puppy Gang food available to us, that has also another added layer to the kind of care that we're able to provide to them. And I have I tell you why.
Yes, we even before we were introduced and we we found you guys, we were feeding them different kinds of food either home cooked or other other kinds. All of them holistic. We never fit them kibble or commercial food. But sometimes I find when they come to us first, understandably so they're confused, they're stressed, you know, they they're not well, and even their physical state sometimes prevents them from having a good healthy appetite.
They don't want to eat, they're probably feeling nauseous, anxious just just usually takes them a couple of days to want to even eat a little better, or entertain the idea of putting a little bit of food in their mouth. But what I find with Puppy Gang food is it's highly palatable even for the dogs that don't have a lot of appetite.
So when a dog for example comes to me straight from wherever they came either from an owner or from from shelter or somewhere where they were fed kibbles or low quality sometimes they come with a bag of dollar store kibbles and I'm thinking how is this food and I just throw it in the garbage right away. All I have to do is just put a small bowl of Puppy Gang food in front of them and they just inhale it and that's very amazing.
You know, I love seeing them eating it despite the stress that they're going through and all the confusion and all the everything else that might prevent them from eating so that that is amazing.
So I don't know what you guys what kind of magic you guys use, but please keep doing it because that is one of the biggest part of your food other than being healthy and nutritious and giving their bodies what they need, but also being palatable.
That's a huge, we're so happy to hear that it's so rewarding for us to hear the difference that it's making a nice dog's life and we love your beautiful dogs, as you know.
They are beautiful, they're absolutely beautiful and precious. For sure. I agree. I'm in what you one thing that you mentioned, to just the fact that you're dealing with small dogs, I mean, and that really resonated with with us when when we heard you say that, that, you know, literally everything that you're putting in their bodies, when it's that smaller, so important. So literally anything could really disrupt their well being.
So it's really particularly with all dogs.
Absolutely, absolutely. And it could affect them that much more compared to a bigger dog, you know, something that might you know, a drop of something, for a large dog, a 50 pound dog may not affect them as much as when that drop of that thing, entering a, you know, three pound body that could change everything that could harm them tremendously.
So it's that much more important to make sure their environment is clean and holistic their food that goes into their body is holistic and nutritious, any kind of chemical treatment that they receive, be as holistic and healthy and harmless as possible.
Now, sometimes, because there are two different kinds of issues that we deal with when it comes to it. Sometimes we deal with acute issues, a dog has been hit by a car or a dog is unconscious or has a broken limb or something that you need to immediately take to the emergency or to a traditional vet, get them on IV get them on antibiotics, get them on all sorts of medication to stabilize the dog.
That part that is basically the value in the traditional and Western medicine that you cannot deny absolutely the medication, the farmer, that's where it has its own place. But then once the dog is stable, or the dogs that come to us that are more or less stable, but are dealing with chronic issues, that's when you have no other choice. But to approach it holistically. If you really want to get good and long lasting results. And we see it every single day all the 98 dogs that have come to us, every single one of them has had a similar story.
And similar proof that this kind of approach not only works, it works best, in my opinion, and gives them extends that lifespan and increases their vitality. And well we've spoken on different episodes that we've done about our rescues.
And my guy, he's 35 pounds, I got him about seven months ago, he's eight years old. And I'm now working to reverse everything that's happened to him prior to me getting him through nutrition, and help to give them that longer live a healthy life and kind of aging backwards.
Well, that's one of the interesting thing is that, you know, you've both said, and we've seen it, you know, with my dog Kalinda as well is that just because your dog has been fed kibble and their whole life, that doesn't mean that there's no hope and that his diet can be really transformative. Even if a dog has been fed a poor diet for years on end. It's really amazing, isn't it?
Absolutely. Absolutely. Sometimes I people asked me or tell me, I had my dog on this and that kind of commercial food and they've been doing fine. I said, Do you want your dog to do fine? Or do you want your dog to thrive and do amazing. And also you don't know what thriving and doing amazing means until you do this.
And then see the difference? You see the kind of energy and vitality in your dog that you didn't even think could exist. So you have to make the switch first to see the difference and then you will never go back?
Absolutely. People are interested in adopting some of your dogs. What in particular are you looking for in a forever home with the holistic care that you would expect?
We spend a lot of time and energy and money and lots of blood, sweat and tears go into taking care of these dogs, bring them literally bring them back to life. And we're not just gonna let them go to homes where they're going to put them back on, you know, things that could potentially harm them and do them no good.
We don't want people to start over vaccinating our seniors or putting them on monthly fleet, chemical, flea and tick control are those can be absolutely dangerous to our dogs and we're not trying to convince anybody which way to go or how to take care of their dogs, I'm hoping that people will finally have the awareness and the education through different educational resources to make this switch for their own dogs as well. But we are basically looking for homes who already have that mindset and approach to holistically taking care of animals in their care.
And those are the environments where we are comfortable sending our dogs to so that they can basically pick up where we left off, and continue with what we have proven to have worked for this animal to do somewhat so well and improve so much.
And so if people want to support Buttonnoses anyone listening today,
what can they do to take part and help support your organization?
Well, like I said, first and foremost, it takes a lot of money to take care of seniors and specialties dogs. And I mean, it's no mystery to anybody. And add the cost of ongoing day to day care for our forever foster dogs, the ones that come here, and and stay with us for the rest of their days. And that number is growing a lot.
Usually, if out of every five or six dogs that come to us, at least one of them ends up being at palliative care and stays with us. So to help us continue to care for them, and also care for the ones that come in, get healthy and ready for adoption and go to their forever homes.
We always welcome donations, people can go to our website, and follow the links. And soon we're also adding the option of becoming a monthly donors. So that can also be very helpful just because we also have ongoing care for our palliative care program.
Another very, very good way that people can help us is actually buy Puppy Gang food. Most of our foster dogs are actually on Puppy Gang food right now.
And they're absolutely thriving and most of the new ones that are coming to us we start them off on Puppy Gang food. So people can either place an order through you guys specifically for us, you have our address and you can just ship it over.
Or maybe when they put their own order in maybe they can always add a couple of extra packs for Button Noses and make a note on their order. And then you guys just add it to our pile and send them our way that would be actually amazing help if people have seen anyone that is interested to donate some food to Buttonnoses.
You can also reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we do encourage you to check out the Buttonnoses website, but noses.com it's super super cute. You get to see some of the tiny dogs we've been talking about today. And as the theme said there's plenty of opportunities and ways to help to rescue these dogs and give this give your support.