Ten years ago, Elisabeth Mayer opened Argos, All-Natural Pet Food and Supply
store after her veterinarian referred to her dogs as geriatric. In order to come to terms with the fact that both of her dogs were indeed getting older, she decided it was time to do some research on how to best increase their life expectancy and quality. She found that experts in pet nutrition were all in agreement on the following point: While there are numerous factors that can impact the overall health of our pets, proper nutrition is a critical component.
What got you started in the pet food industry?
Well, I have a business background — I was an accountant for 11 years — I worked in corporate America, I worked in public accounting, non-profit, did everything, but I also always volunteered at animal shelters. So I had a strong passion for animal rescue and animals in general. And then as my dogs started to age at around 7 years of age, I invested a lot of time in researching what they were eating and their diet. I didn’t get to spend as much time with them as I wanted because I worked so many hours.
So I thought that if I could just improve what they’re eating — their diet — it would just increase their longevity. So that became really interesting to me. I had always wanted to get into the animal world in some form or fashion, feeling like I made a difference, so this was kind of one way to combine all of my expertise and my passions. And so that’s how I started 10 years ago.
Ten years ago? So this isn’t your first location?
This is my third
. My first location I opened over 10 years ago in Madeira. And then five years later, I opened my second location in East Walnut Hills. And now, five years later, in Pleasant Ridge, which is where I grew up.
Really? Is that why you chose it?
No, it’s not why I chose it, but it’s great to be back here, and it seemed like a really good fit. I mean, I lived here for 18 years, so I was actually taking my dog to the vet — the Pleasant Ridge Veterinary Hospital — during the height of COVID, and they wouldn’t let me come in with him, so I jumped back in my car with him and I looked back across the street and thought “Huh, that’s a cute little shop, is that a business?” And I saw the dog sculpture out in front and I thought, “Is that a pet store?” And it turns out that it was just a vacant building that they were putting up for rent.
And that’s how I stumbled upon it, and here I am now, and I think it was a really good decision.
This is a huge dog neighborhood. There are two families on my street that I can think of that don’t have dogs. And many families have more than one. So this is a good location. Do you make your own dog food or is it made for you?
This is our private label that we have made for us. So we worked with a nutritionist and a vet to come up with these formulas. So it’s not baked in our oven — I wish! — but it would have to be a pretty big oven. We’d need hundreds of acres of land to do that.
So you mentioned that the formulas are designed to keep dogs less hyper and fuller. Can you elaborate?
Yes. They don’t have the fillers that so many grocery store brands do. They’re just fillers, that’s all they are. They’re corn, soy, wheat, animal byproducts, gluten, and you end up feeding more — there’s more waste — and this [Argo’s dog food] doesn’t have those fillers. There’s just more meat and many of our formulas have ancient grains, which are really easy to digest. There are things like sorghum and millet and quinoa and chia, so they’re easy to digest. And they’re healthy for humans and dogs. It’s ultimately a better nutritional value for the dog. And it’s true — it can make a huge difference in their personality.
Last question: How did you choose the name? Is it one of your dogs’ names?
Argos is actually a famous dog from The Odyssey
, written by Homer. It’s the story of King Ulises who has this dog named Argos — and then he has to go off to war — he goes off to war for 10 years, or maybe it’s 20 years, to fight in the Trojan War, and when he returns, he disguises himself as this poor beggar. I don’t know why he disguised himself — maybe he didn’t want to get attacked on his way back — and all the while he was away, Argos was waiting for him. Nobody really takes care of him; he’s flea-ridden and falling apart, and then when his master comes back, nobody recognizes him. Even his own wife doesn’t recognize him, but Argos recognizes him. And he leans down and pets him and Argos wags his tail and then dies.
It’s so sad, but it basically shows the devotion that our pets have for their owners.
Argos in East Walnut Hills was robbed on Christmas Day. Thieves stole the cash register and a donation jar for Cincinnati Animal CARE. To help Hamilton County’s only open-intake, no-kill shelter, click here.