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Natural Awakenings Spokane WA/Coeur d'Alene ID

Prairie Dog Pet Mercantile Focuses on Holistic Pet Health, Education

May 07, 2018 05:56PM
by Sheila Julson

Certified professional dog trainer (CPDT-KA) Amy Barker knows that when opportunity knocks, it’s important to answer. Barker had been working at Prairie Dog Pet Mercantile when the store’s founders, Don and Cyndi Cutler, wanted to sell the business. Barker decided to go for it, and she, along with her husband Daniel Pringle, bought the business in 2013.

Barker and Pringle—today the enthusiastic pet parents of three dogs and two cats—have steadily grown Prairie Dog, moving the store from its original Palouse Highway location to a new space on Regal Street, where they are currently expanding. They also opened a second location in Kendall Yards in August 2017. The South Hill store expansion will provide Barker with 1,700 additional square feet to offer training classes and seminars. She is already partnering with local dog training experts Diamonds in the Ruff to bring classes to Prairie Dog. They hope to eventually host seminars led by pet nutrition experts and holistic and local veterinarians on topics such as quality foods, behavior issues, and separation anxiety.

Barker’s biggest involvement with the dog community remains as an instructor at Diamonds in the Ruff, where she teaches classes like Tails & Trails, in which people learn to hike responsibly with their dogs. She sees a direct link between an animal’s behavior and the quality of food, toys and products the owners provide.

Prairie Dog specializes in products for dogs and cats with a focus on natural and holistic kibble, dehydrated and raw foods. “We’re picky about what we carry, and I’ll research something a lot before we bring it in,” Barker says. “We don’t carry foods that have animal byproducts, wheat, corn or soy. The foods we sell the most are ones that use human grade ingredients. Good dog food comes from good people food.”

Customers can also find high quality supplements, collars, leashes and beds. Barker emphasizes that the staff at Prairie Dog give personalized guidance to each customer as they select healthy food, grooming and dental care products, or the perfect chew or toy that will make their pets thrive, all with a goal of helping companion animals achieve longevity.

Prairie Dog Pet Mercantile also regularly makes in-kind donations to animal welfare organizations including Mercy’s Mission, SCRAPS and Meals on Wheels. Barker is glad she made the decision five years ago to take advantage of an opportunity to become an entrepreneur in a type of business she adores. “I love our customers, and we’re excited to grow,” she enthuses. “I’m passionate about educating our community, and that’s what we do here. If I can make it so people’s dogs are on this planet a little bit longer, then I’m doing my job.”

Prairie Dog Pet Mercantile is located at 5608 S. Regal, Ste. 100, Spokane, and 1206 Summit Parkway, Spokane. For more information, call 509-443-9663 or 509-279-2399 or visit

Sheila Julson is a Milwaukee-based writer and contributor to Natural Awakenings magazines throughout the country.

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