I am a dream-doer; I do what I love and have an overwhelming urge to expand my knowledge. - Ameer Barbara
My name is Ameer Barbara and I love dogs. It’s funny, if you asked me what my passion was 2 years ago, I would have said sports. I was your typical high school jock and I loved the attention. Nothing made me happier than to see my face in the local newspaper or adding another gold medal or trophy to my wall. This all changed when I got King.
First, let me tell you a little about me. I believe that in this world there are dreamers, there are doers, and finally, dream-doers (a word I just made up). I am a dream-doer; I do what I love and have an overwhelming urge to expand my knowledge.
My childhood challenge became my biggest strength.
When I was a kid, I was diagnosed with A.D.D (Attention Deficit Disorder). To this day, I see psychologists and psychiatrists regularly. They ask me a bunch of questions and give me puzzles to solve while I’m being timed; just call me Rainman. Having A.D.D is both a gift and a curse. A diagnosis of A.D.D only emphasizes what is considered wrong with a person, usually causing those who are diagnosed to feel shame and self-doubt. Don’t get me wrong, I got in a lot of trouble as a kid due to my lack of attention, impulsiveness, and hyperactivity, but without those traits, I would also be without accomplishments. I would not be the athlete I am today, for example. Ironically, the lack of focus that comes with having A.D.D carries something called ‘hyper-focus’ with it (both a gift and a curse). Everything I do has an almost obsessive feel to it. I’m a multi-talented, multi-lingual, multi-cultural and multi-ball juggling nerd with a passion to learn.
One of the best examples of my love of learning happened when I met a girl named Victoria, who you could say was a classic case of ‘love at first sight’. I found out that Victoria was deaf and because I wanted to communicate with her I spent the majority of every day teaching myself ASL (American Sign Language). At first I would finger spell a lot of the words and within a few months of learning I became fluent; a feat that takes the average person 3 years of classes and a feat that I am supremely proud of.
Combining a passion for learning with a love for dogs.
My career journey began with King, a purebred Doberman Pinscher who is 2 years old and fluent in Arabic, English and ASL. He knows over 50 commands in all 3 languages. People say things like “he’s a human” or “he’s the smartest dog I’ve ever seen”. I say “like father, like son”. One of my first goals was to teach him ASL as I would be traveling a lot for track meets and Victoria would be taking care of him. When King was 6 months old, he had already transformed into an amazing dog.
Let’s rewind a little. King is a backyard bred dog, which means the breeder irresponsibly breeds dogs for money and usually means that the quality of the dog is very poor. Growing up he had aggression issues, he was unresponsive, didn’t follow any rules, was impulsive, hyperactive and what many people would call a ‘bad boy’ – Surprised? One of the reasons I connected with King so well was because I saw myself in him; the same characteristics he showed as a dog, I showed as a human and I wanted to help him harness his energy. I spent literally most of every single day educating myself on how to train King; and I even skipped my university classes to do so.
This part is the tear-jerker. In 2012 King was stolen from me, and I also became homeless. I dropped out of university for that semester and lived in my car, because I didn’t want my parents to know that I had failed on my own. After 2 weeks of relentless pursuit, I found King, and I borrowed money from my friend to buy him back. King and I lived in my car for a while until my track coach found out, due to my poor performances. He let me stay in his house with King. It gets worse. I was broke, homeless, a university dropout, and I get injured during the Olympic 400m trials finals. I guess you could say 2012 wasn’t my year.
After help from some of the best friends in the world, I got back on my feet. I continued to train King, but I saw that he was always tired looking and he was slowing down at only a year old. Originally, I thought it was because he had lived in stressful situations for a while. After some A.D.D-search (what I call anything I obsessively research), I came to the conclusion that it could have been his diet. I came across a lot of forums, all of which had raw food enthusiasts. I thought that by buying the most expensive and highest quality kibble, I was doing the best for King. I continued to research raw meat for dogs, and looked for answers to my questions: would ingesting raw meat make my dog aggressive or blood thirsty? What about salmonella? Could he choke on the bones? After all these myths were easily busted, I decided to give it a try.
From Learning to Doing - Creating KING'S RAW.
My research led me to learn about B.A.R.F – Biologically Appropriate Raw Food. B.A.R.F is ground up raw meat with bones and organs. I went to a butcher and I got some raw meat and portioned it myself. I also added in whole bone pieces for him to gnaw and jaw on. The reason I didn’t get the raw food from pet stores was because they had things in them that in my opinion were unnecessary, like fruits and vegetables, and they had preservatives. Also, they weren’t technically B.A.R.F as some would say “may contain bones”. The biggest reason, however, was how expensive it was; I simply couldn’t afford it.
…I’d like to tell you the 3 best decisions I made in my life: Stayed in school (except for that slip in 2012), ate my veggies (thanks Mom), and switched King to a raw food diet.
The first day I gave King his raw meat, he gobbled it up in seconds. There was an immediate change in his focus and energy. He became lively again! I was so happy to see him so full of energy. Within a week, his teeth got whiter, his coat got shinier, his stool got smaller and had no smell, and he was drinking way less water.
As I continued to feed King a raw food diet, I came to realize that there are very few things I am passionate about and one of them is dogs. I was at a point in my life that I had to make a decision between my long time traditional career plan of becoming a teacher, or pursue my real passion. Half way through Teacher’s College, I withdrew. I decided that I wanted to be a major part of the dog community and wanted to help educate other dog owners so that they could better understand their dogs and their dog's needs. This is how King’s Raw began.
…. The fourth best decision I made in my life was to start my own business, King's Raw. My name is Ameer Barbara and I love dogs.