Em’s Doggy Delights began with a simple passion for cooking, a love for animals and the desire of a young girl to run her own business.
Emily Stonehouse, of Amherst, started making homemade dog treats after she was given a dog treat maker by her parents this past Christmas. The gift presented the 11-year-old a great opportunity to fulfil some of her interests.
“I wanted to start my own business and my mom and I came up with the idea because I like to cook and I like animals,” she tells Cumberland Wire.
For more than a month now, Emily has been selling the dog treats through her Facebook page, Em’s Doggy Delights, finding plenty of interest in the tasty, healthy snacks.
Emily says the treat maker operates something like a waffle maker. You just insert the dough, with all the ingredients mixed in, of course, and cook it.
The maker came with a booklet that suggests safe and healthy treat recipes for dogs.
Most recipes call for whole wheat flour and healthy peanut butter, and Emily adds other ingredients, such as carrots, pumpkin, bananas, or oatmeal for flavour.
“I use the healthiest ingredients I can find,” says Emily.
Initially, Emily tried the treats on her golden retrievers Bella and Harlee. The snacks received an enthusiastic endorsement from the pooches.
“I made, like, pancake batter, then I put it in first and I gave some of it to my dogs, and of course they gobbled it up,” she says.
With the tastiness of the healthy snacks confirmed, it was time to start selling them.
“My mom said that not a lot of people sell homemade dog treats here, so I thought it’d be a good idea to start doing it,” says Emily.
Now, instead, Emily tries to make 15 bags of dog treats a week. When each batch is finished, she posts them on her Facebook page, providing customers the opportunity to reply and let her know they’re interested in purchasing a bag, or more, for their lucky canine.
After the first three weeks, Emily had sold 55 bags. While most of the bags are sold locally, they have been ordered as far away as Missouri, where 15 bags were being sent to a shelter.
She has also had people buy bags to donate to the local shelter.
Meanwhile, Emily keeps experimenting and trying new recipes.
She has already started making other recipes outside of the treat maker. She just rolls out the dough and bakes it in the oven, using a dog bone-shaped cookie cutter to form the treats.
While Emily continues to use the booklet for treat recipes, in her free time she looks online for other ideas, educating herself on what’s good and healthy for dogs.
When she spoke to Cumberland Wire, her and her mom were discussing making oatmeal and apple pretzel treats.
“Which are going to be hard because you have to actually shape them and hopefully we won’t crack any of them,” Emily comments.
As for whether Bella and Harlee have favourite treat flavours, the evidence suggests they aren’t so discerning.
“They like anything,” says Emily. “In the first week of making them, they stole four or five bags off the counter and ate them all.”
Harlee, the one-year-old pooch, will always plant herself beside Emily when she’s cooking.
“She knows when Emily gets out that treat maker, there’s some goodies coming,” says Angela.
Emily adds she always lets the dogs taste test the treats.
What Emily enjoys most about the experience is getting to spend time with family while she cooks.
“We have lots of laughs while doing it.”
She feels she has learned it takes a lot of time running a business and she finds herself improving her math skills, having to add up the bags, the treats and money.
“I’m getting better at mental math,” she says, laughing.
Emily invests some of the money back into ingredients and supplies, but she doesn’t have any plans to buy herself anything with the money she’s making. There’s nothing she really wants right now, she says, so she will save the money.
Readers can check out Emily’s Facebook page, Em’s Doggy Delights, where they can also purchase the tasty and healthy dog treats. The treats are sold for $4 a bag.