Pam Starr is the talented winemaker and owner of Crocker & Starr Winery in St. Helena. She is also a diehard friend and devoted dog mom.



They listen without judgement. They are always there for us, come hell or highwater. They forgive us our flaws and see only the good. They selflessly give us what no other creature on earth can – unconditional love.


They own our hearts as they push their soft heads beneath our palms and plant a kiss. They are our dogs.


After all they give to us, nothing compares to the frustration of not truly knowing how to help our four-legged family members. When it comes to pain, we just don’t speak the same language. To be honest, they put us to shame with their patience and stoicism in the face of adversity. Every day with a dog reminds us we have much to learn.


Our beloved Griffin was no exception. He was the bright spot in every morning, a soft place to curl up at night, and our constant companion in between. But at the age of twelve, we knew something was wrong with our boy. Leaving no stone unturned, we were soon faced with a diagnosis of cancer. We looked sweet Griffin in the eye and knew there was nothing we wouldn’t do for him. We promised to get him through it.


Chemotherapy was not easy, but for the most part, Griffin did really well while we did everything we could to keep him comfortable. However, something we hadn’t anticipated was the side effect of reflux. Witnessing poor Griffin coughing, gagging, and beginning to lose interest in the meals he once loved was just too much.


Turning to our DVM (our hero! our rock!), he provided antacid reflux medication so that Grif would be able to once again eat and digest comfortably. Unfortunately, the medication had multiple side effects and it did not treat the acid reflux effectively. We could tell that Griffin was uncomfortable and the reflux was getting worse. More than anything, we were desperate to provide the nourishment and joy that Griffin so badly needed.


Needless to say, the plight of our cherished family member was always at the forefront of our minds. Lamenting on our helplessness one night over dinner with dear friends, one of them had a thought – did we know about alginate therapy?


Not only have we been blessed by incredible relationships in the furry world, our human friends are pretty amazing, too; and this one is something special. Chef Ken Frank has long been a fixture in our friend family. Having had personal experience with acid reflux, and also having created an all-natural solution, Ken recounted his own journey and kindly gave us samples of his own alginate therapy product.


After reviewing the ingredients, my husband and I tried it first, then ran it past Griffin’s veterinarian. With a green light from him, we finally offered it to Grif. He licked it right up, and in minutes – no more gagging from his acid reflux. Grif was comfortable and eating well again,  without any side effects! What a relief! During the rest of Griffin’s recovery from cancer, we continued using Reflux Gourmet – at first on a regular basis, and then as needed. With this addition to his routine, Griffin ate and rested in comfort for the duration of his treatment.


There are so many things in our lives that are beyond our control, so many things we will always be powerless against. I believe one of the worst of these examples is being forced to watch someone you love suffer. While we were doing everything we could to help our sweet Grif, it felt like this one seemingly simple thing we should have been able to solve. We will always be grateful to Ken for offering the comfort and relief that Griffin so deserved, and for restoring the joy he always found in his food when he needed it most – pretty fitting that a world-class chef would have the answer. Thank you, dear Chef.


Here’s to those we love – two legged and four! And to those who love us in return. Here’s to being kind and present, true and loving, and completely devoted – just like Grif taught us to be. Here’s to fighting the good fight, to doing whatever it takes. Here’s to being there.


Here’s to our Griffin.




We at Reflux Gourmet do not suggest nor support providing any products, including ours, to any pet without the express involvement, consultation, and direction of your treating veterinarian.


We share this story simply because we are animal lovers and have been exceedingly touched by the love expressed herein.

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