It started as a hobby. The K9 Shop is now a Long Island phenomenon


Robert and Anya Tucker just wanted their dog to live a happier and healthier life.

So they zeroed in on her diet — and made huge changes. Their neighbors soon took notice of their happy dog on walks.

That shiny coat!

That giddyup!

Soon, they were helping their neighbors’ dogs, too.

The Tuckers’ passion for pups rapidly turned into a business phenomenon. 

The Bay Shore couple founded The K9 Shop, where “Real Dogs Eat Raw,” with locations in Massapequa and Bohemia, and a franchise shop in Lynbrook.

They opened in Massapequa in 2018.

“But we had to expand [from Massapequa], because people were coming from as far east as Montauk, and west from the city, Staten Island,” Robert said.

Even the original Massapequa location has nearly tripled in size, and is now located at 939 Broadway, a 2,200-square-foot space where there’s plenty of room for canine visitors.

“It was a hobby; we had no intention of starting a business,” Robert said. “But then it started snowballing, and I said, ‘This is interesting; maybe can do something with this.”

They now own and operate the largest raw and natural pet food provider in New York State.

The trust factor

Natural treats on display at The K9 Shop in Bohemia.

Anya says “trust” has fueled the success of The K9 Shop.

That, and customers who become friends. Those believers talk, and word of mouth has been tremendous for the company.

Before the couple started selling food from a freezer in their garage in Bellmore in January 2017, they spent countless hours researching what they call “species appropriate” diet options for their dog Ginger, a vizsla.

They were driving and flying around the country, meeting with (and inspecting) potential food sources and providers.

Several of those providers are still used today by The K9 Shop.

Offerings include complete and balanced meals, bones, fish, farm eggs, whole prey and DIY raw chunks — with food also coming in from local farms. That includes duck necks, turkey necks, rabbit parts, and chicken feet, to name just a few.

“This is as Mother Nature intended it,” Anya often says.

What builds the trust?

“People can see the results in their dogs’ health, coat, behavior,” Anya said. “They see the dogs’ changes … yeast problems, ear problems, hot spots, gone. Their teeth are cleaner…

“It’s all about feeding them what they’re meant to eat,” she continued. “Dogs were meant to be ripping and tearing. It’s human-grade food, the only difference is it has bone and organs in it, which is where they get most of their vitamins and minerals.”

“Our customers learn to trust us,” Anya added. “They tell us if it’s in our store, they don’t even need to read the labels.”

The kibble ‘trend’

Feeding dogs kibble has been a trend that’s lasted a century.

Because it’s all too easy. Open the bag and pour.

“It was created as a convenience, just like McDonald’s was created for us,” Robert said. “People wanted something quick that they could dump in the bowl and get going. The difference is, we’re well aware McDonald’s isn’t good for us.” (And we would never eat it every day.)

But it’s hard for people to understand anything different, the couple says, because for generations they’ve grown up with their friends and families giving dogs kibble.

“Anything that we [as humans] do to their food, by cooking it, adding coloring, fillers, and preservatives, what we’re doing is killing the food itself, and it ends up having no nutritional value, because of the high processing,” Anya says. “That’s why these big dog food companies have to then spray on all these flavors, vitamins and coloring to make the kibble more palatable.” 

A top priority for all K9 Shop employees is education, not only about the dangers and dark secrets of kibble, but the real benefits of raw and natural food and supplements.

“The key is educating,” Anya says. “That is why all of the dogs do so well on this food. Some might need extra supplements, some diets need to be tweaked, especially for things like kidney disease, EPI (exocrine pancreatic insufficiency) or diabetes. We just educate people so well.”

Robert added: 

“We believe that everything is healed from the inside out, and it starts with what they eat.

Why they did it

Dogs are welcome at all K9 Shop locations.

The Tuckers’ had a beloved English bulldog named Georgia, a female that had a whole host of health issues: from her skin, to her weight, to her coat.

After Georgia passed away, they wanted to prevent the same thing from happening to Ginger. (They soon added a second vizsla, Ember. These two dogs are the inspiration for the store and The K9 Shop’s official mascots.)

“Georgia had passed and we started researching raw food,” Anya said. “But here on Long Island [in 2016-17] we couldn’t find a good source of raw food that wasn’t either tremendously expensive, or tremendously messy, or of the highest quality.”

Quality is something the couple swears by still today, and since the earliest days packing freezers in their garage.

“We never compromise on quality,” Robert says. “We keep our quality super high and we would never come off that. We only go after the best. If I don’t feed it to my dogs, it’s not in my store, period.”

Their goal is — and always has been — helping more and more dogs live better lives. Their growing business has simply been a byproduct of this.

“People are always nervous about starting their dog on raw, but when you just think of the nature aspect, dogs don’t have the ability to cook their own food,” Anya says. “They never did, and they never will.”

Top: The K9 Shop owners, Anya and Robert Tucker, in Bohemia, with their two dogs, Ember and Ginger. (Satin Widrow photos)

When you visit

First, dogs are very welcome at all of The K9 Shop locations, and it’s encouraged to bring them. Let the owners and staff get to know them and learn about their dietary habits, or other issues. Each location is stacked with raw food and natural dried treats on display, and all from trusted sources. If you can’t physically make it to a store location, you can click here to shop online. They also sell food for cats and other domestic animals.

Robert and Anya Tucker in their Bohemia store, which opened in 2018.