In recent years, the added motivation for Americans to eat right has been seen in the development of numerous health food stores and the increase in organic products available at supermarkets across the country. One local pet lover believes that dogs too deserve the same treatment.

Teresa Barker is the owner of Happy Barker, a business that creates organic vegan snacks for dogs. All of her snacks are nutritionally complete and balanced, using only organically grown nutrient-dense ingredients. Barker began her operation in Oregon in 2005, and since then, she's been committed in her quest to provide healthy dog treats for her community.

A Nashville resident since 2008, Barker has experienced an adjustment from her days on the West Coast.

"I've had such a wonderful reception in Nashville," Barker said. "In Oregon, I had one place where I could always go for products. Here I've had to be a little more creative in terms of seeking out different farmers and buying direct from them."

Her journey started when she started to get involved with pet rescue. In an effort to nurse these neglected dogs back to health, she evaluated every step in their nutrition process.

"The motivating force for me is that I wanted to be very strict about what I fed my dogs," Barker said. "My dogs came to me from bad environments. They had allergies, so I had to make sure there was a strict nutritional environment. I really just wanted to help them to live longer."

Happy Barker offers organic dog biscuits with flavors including popular flavors Sugar Baby Watermelon and Sweet Potato Blueberry. These low fat snacks are hypo-allergenic and never contain wheat, soy, corn, glutens, dairy, meat or meat meals, artificial flavors or preservatives, egg, saturated fats, salt or sugar.

"Every ingredient has a nutritional purpose," Barker said. "I have to stress that these are perishable products. They will save up to a month, and then you can place them your fridge or freezer for future use."

Each variety features a complete vegan protein formula from all natural sources. Happy Barker snacks are also loaded with vitamins, antioxidants, fiber and Omega 3's. Their taste stems from using fresh organic fruits and vegetables and preserved using vitamin E oil.

In a time when the number of pet illnesses are increasing, Barker believes that proper nutrition is especially vital, and that snacks presented in the marketplace may actually be harming your dog.

"The number of pets who have allergies has grown so much recently," she explained. "Vets are paid to endorse certain products, and they're not always the best for your pet."

Barker attends weekly events such as the East Nashville Farmer's Market and the Woodbine Farmer's market to promote her products. Recently, she's entertained offers to place her line of snacks in corporate retail stores. At this time, her focus remains on selling in local stores to maintain more control of her unique offerings.

Barker's website allows customers to purchase product and either have it shipped for a small fee or picked up at select East Nashville businesses such as Nuvo Burrito and The Green Wagon. Her selections come in numerous sizes to fit individual needs, with prices starting at $4 for a quarter-pound bag.

Photo courtesy of Red Bull

Red Bull Unlocked Nashville

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Photo courtesy of Rumble Boxing Gulch Nashville

Rumble Boxing Gulch, Nashville

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Who would have thought that we would have to get through a pandemic in order to appreciate the small things we have, such as the ability to simply pack our bags and hit the road?

For two years, there’s been nothing left for us travel junkies to do but sit at home and try to find new destinations that we will conquer once we defeat what appears to be the biggest villain of the 21st century. But once that happens, hold your bags tight because we will be up for some of the most interesting travel experiences. Take a look at some ideas for your post-COVID traveling plans:

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