Dog owners are becoming more educated about the ingredients of commercial dog food, dog treats and how they can be harmful to their dogs. In recent years natural, organic and homemade dog foods have been becoming increasingly popular. Seeing the business possibilities gave Texas entrepreneur Stephanie Farrar an idea about selling her own homemade dog treats.
In the beginning she ran into a lot of naysayers who didn’t believe her treats would sell, but Farrar knew her doggy snacks were tastier and healthier than many others on the market. Now, more than a decade later, Farrar has expanded from baking her treats in her own kitchen to running a retail shop in downtown McKinney, Texas.
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The business started out when Farrar became concerned about the health of her German shepherd, Sherman, who she now credits as being the co-founder of The Canine Cookie Company. In 2004, after hearing about numerous pet food recalls and dogs that were getting sick or dying from eating tainted products, Farrar began making her own dog treats using only U.S.A-produced ingredients.
It began with a line of natural dog treats which has now been expanded to include chicken, beef, and sweet potato flavors. Farrar has also expanded the natural treat line to include cupcakes, that she calls Pupcakes, and peanut butter-filled Pup Tarts.
Her goal was to keep things as simple as possible, so she stayed away from using a lot of herbs and spices. Also, she uses brewer’s yeast in her products because it is rich in B vitamins. The result of her trials was a dog cookie that tasted similar to a Wheat Thin cracker without all the salt, preservatives, and sugar. The cookies are also low in fat.
Not long after she began making treats for Sherman, she had friends knocking on her door asking for treats for their dogs as well. This led Farrar to begin selling her products at the Historic McKinney Farmers Market and wholesale shops in the area.
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Just over four years ago she outgrew her home kitchen and opened her own store where she sells her natural dog treats along with other pet-related merchandise. She hires stay-at-home moms to help her cut out all the cookies and package them. Last year she and her staff cut out about 127,000 cookies.
Farrar also makes about 5 doggy birthday cakes a week and someday hopes to have enough space to offer a place for owners to host dog birthday parties. Dogs are welcome in the store anytime, and although the dog treats are her best seller, she is currently working on a line of collars and leashes to expand her brand.