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Woof approved: Yuma woman makes and sells homemade dog treats
Orange bliss. Strawberry shortcake. Vanilla ice cream cookie.
With names like these, you can't help but reach out for one of these treats.
Until you notice the shape. Dog bone?
Yup, these are some of the homemade dog treats made by the Great Danish Bakery. Owner Jen Bennett makes and sells the homemade dog treats, a hot trend right now.
“I think people treat their dogs better than their kids,” quipped Bennett, a nurse who is currently a stay-at-home mom and budding businesswoman.
She credits her 11-year-old son, Dawson, and his best friend, Damian Flores, with coming up with the idea.
“Mom was baking a cake, and we thought, you know what? We should have a dog bakery,” Dawson recalled.
The idea didn't seem farfetched. Bennett has always cooked for the family dog, Louie, a 220-pound Great Dane.
Louie is also the inspiration behind the business name, and all treats must first get his approval.
“He's the boss. If he doesn't like a cookie, it won't go,” Bennett said.
Not that she could easily hide the treats from him. The 6-year-old dog can look up over the fridge and is taller than Bennett's husband, who is over 6 feet.
Their first dog treat was peanut butter Oreo, since followed by 30 different delicious-sounding varieties, such as peanut butter and jelly, blueberry pop-tart, bacon cheeseburger and apple pork, a favorite.
Some have fun names, like the banana “muttfin” and the “wooffle.”
The boys are constantly coming up with new flavors. “We can do it any flavor,” Bennett said.
Of course, not all flavors have been hits. The nacho taco was a flop. “Nobody wanted it,” she noted.
Many of the flavors are the result of trial and error. Bennett discovered the pumpkin pie treat had no shelf life.
Some ideas have been discarded, like using fresh strawberries, after learning that dehydrated fruit lasts longer.
The experiments never end. Currently, she's trying to figure out a pizza version.
Does she bake treats for other animals? On request, she once made treats for cats, a shrimp and tuna variety, but she doesn't consider that her forte.
“I've never been around cats, so I have no idea what they eat.”
But what does make it out of her kitchen has plenty of thought behind it. She carefully researches all of the ingredients that go into the treats, such as the skin, seeds, etc. This is how she found out that apple seeds are poisonous to dogs.
“If my dog can't have it, no dog will,” Bennett said.
She made a sweet potato treat when she found out it's “really good for dogs.” And she altered recipes to accommodate puppies, leaving out ingredients that could upset their young tummies.
Bennett has even made some treats with extra benefits, like the orange bliss treat. It contains orange essential oil, which she says calms down hyperactive dogs. The flavor is reminiscent of the Dreamsicle, she noted.
She has baked dog cakes and once made one for a dog wedding. (Yes, you read correctly.)
She's whipped up many party batches. “People will buy party trays for their dogs.”
And go ahead and try one. It won't hurt you. As a matter of fact, all treats are edible by humans, which Bennett's kids will attest to.
“I always use the best ingredients, all natural and organic when I can get it,” she said.
Everything is made from scratch, using “real” apples and “real” strawberries. Nothing is canned or processed, she said.
Bennett started making the dog treats “for fun” six months ago and sold them on a local website. But she didn't feel safe on the site and now sells her products exclusively at the Paws and Tails Pet Store, 11274 S. Fortuna Road. She sells the treats by the dozen, but the shop will sell them by the piece.
“They're selling great,” Bennett said, noting that sales have gone “crazy” especially since the winter visitors returned.
With her two junior bakers by her side, there's no stopping now.
“It was either jump in with both feet or run from it,” Bennett said.
Mara Knaub can be reached at email@example.com or 539-6856. Find her on Facebook at Facebook.com/YSMaraKnaub or on Twitter at @YSMaraKnaub.