Burt Ward "Robin" is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the iconic show "Batman." While not likely to earn as much fame, Burt is just as amazingly enjoying his 22nd year with his wife Tracy running Gentle Giants Rescue and Adoptions.
What was just a short term plan to help save dogs turned into a second career for Burt and his wife Tracy. The couple decided to take in a few great Danes until someone could take over and they thought until that happened they could save some lives. At the end of the first month Burt and Tracy had almost 100 great Danes. "After a few weeks we didn't find anyone to take it over and now 22 years later and we still haven't found anyone," Burt joked.
That is how Gentle Giants Rescue and Adoptions came to be and how Burt took this on as not only his charity, but his personal crusade. How personal? Well he has at any one time 50 or more dogs living in his home.
"For the last 22 years they have operated the largest giant dog breed rescues in the world called
"Gentle Giants Rescue and Adoptions" have rescued 15,500 dogs, we paid for food, shelter, medical and
found a safe and loving home for each one. At all times we have 50 or more dogs living in our home with
us," Burt said. "They are all communally living together, we have 45 different breeds, starting with the Chinese Crested which weighs about two pounds all the way up to dogs that are 300 pounds of pure muscle."
With 88 million dogs in the United States in 67 million households, that tells you how important dogs are in our society. As Burt said, "The one thing you can ask any dog owner and you will always get the same answer. How long would you like your dog to live? Everyone always says forever. Traditionally dogs have very short life spans."
"These breeds (great Danes) live only seven to nine years. When we would lose one of these dogs it would be so upsetting we would literally cry, so I said to my wife we have to do something. Within the first three years of the rescue we developed a feeding and care program. We care for and feed dogs differently than other people. With these programs we added an average of three years to the dog’s life. We knew at that point we couldn't go any further unless we change their food."
With that thought, "Gentle Giants Dog Food" was born.
"We went out to a specialist who had the capacity to create dog food in a really high end way. When we produced this first food and we started feeding this to our dogs and within three to four weeks they were slimming down, their alertness was enhanced. Bottom line is we have dogs that lived seven to nine years that now live 27 years."
Burt found out that the more fat content you put in dog food the hungrier it makes dogs. So they didn't add any fat to "Gentle Giants Dog Food." It does have some fat, but what is naturally found in food aren't the bad fats.
"We take nothing from it, this is our charity. In California we are in 1,200 stores. You would think we are in the highest end pet stores but we aren't because they tell us they want to sell our 33 pound bag of dog food for $85 to $95. We sell the same bag in Stater Brothers, Ralph's, Gelsons and Wal-Mart for $33.99, a dollar a pound. We don't make anything on it, it retails for half the price of other natural dog foods that won't keep your dog living 27 years," Burt said.
"The way we designed our food is to be more absorbent. The number one killer of dogs is still cancer, number two is accidents, the third is bloat and torsion which kills ten percent of all dogs. That is how the dog dies at the end of the movie "Marley and Me." Bloat and torsion is 100% preventable by the way you feed and care for dogs. Food on the stomach combined with stress or exercise. What you want to have is the least amount of food on their stomach, so our food is much more absorbed by dogs than they typical commercial food."
Burt had some great tips for all dog owners. Every dog owner should elevate the food and water, the correct height is they just tilt their head they should never lean down. Also no exercise, no riding in the car one hour before and after eating. Finally have your dog eat five times per day.
"You have to have the right intent and my wife and I have always felt that if you do things for the right reasons, ultimately you will get the best results," Burt stated.