A north Waikato woman has turned her love for the gentle giants of the dog world into a burgeoning business.
Fiona Robertson ships animal health supplements from her lifestyle block to a growing list of international stockists. She talked to Angela Kemp.
Fiona Robertson will never forget May 12, 2010. Her beautiful Newfoundland dog, Rosie, was diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy, a terminal heart condition common to the breed.
Fiona, a qualified veterinary nurse, was not about to give up on her pet. She had read about the benefits of fish oil and decided to try and find a fish oil supplement in the hope that it would improve the quality of her dog’s life and even prolong it.
But the product she was looking for – a fish oil supplement which was sustainable, ethically-sourced and produced, and a NZ product – wasn’t available. So she decided to make her own.
Fiona started her trials using a refined human-grade product on her Newfoundland dogs. The results were spectacular, not least on Rosie.
“Rosie’s arrhythmia was better controlled and my oldest dog, Flame, gained increased mobility as a result of improved joint health.
“After her diagnosis the vet thought Rosie would have only about eight months of quality life left but she lived a full and healthy life for another three years and actually died of breast cancer,” says Fiona.
The teacher and former share milker began her love affair with Newfoundlands some 20 years ago when she and husband, Gavin imported Pip, their first ‘Newfie’ from Australia. The purchase prompted their move from Takanini to Pukekawa.
The black beauty was a success in the show ring and sparked Fiona’s interest in breeding Newfoundlands. At one time her Pukekawa property was home to 16 of the giant breed who enjoyed the privilege of sleeping on the couches inside (as all of her current five dogs do).
Despite their size Fiona says they are gentle and love human company.
“They want to be close all the time and are very loving and caring animals which don’t bother with other stock such as horses, cows, sheep or chickens.”
Since launching her pet health supplements business, Newflands with omega-i oil and hoki oil, the range has expanded to include healthy treats.
They’ve been developed to support pets’ immune system or work with their current veterinary treatment if they have arthritis, itchy, flaky or scratchy skin conditions, eye issues or heart problems. They are suitable for both dogs and cats and even humans!
Fiona works alongside Massey University to provide scientific proof of the benefits of using fish and krill oil supplements. Other Newflands products are currently at the research and development stage.
The supplements are manufactured at factories in Auckland and beyond and returned to Fiona’s home for distribution (unless they are overseas orders).
Newflands is available at 60 stockists in NZ as well as in Australia, Malaysia, Singapore and from Amazon in the USA.