There appears to be a market for fancy dog treats. People who create and sell them are delighted to do it, customers “oohhh” and “aahhh” over them, and their healthy ingredients make everyone feel virtuous. And though Fido may have thought he was happy with a Milk-Bone, once he tries a yogurt-frosted peanut butter cookie shaped like an ice-cream cone he may never be satisfied with an everyday biscuit again.
Gourmet dog treats have become a thriving business across the country, as Internet findings show. Not surprisingly, on our Island where dogs are important members of so many households, plenty of fancy canine edibles can be found.
“As safe for your family as it is for your family pet,” is Kerry Scott’s motto. Everything from food to toys at her Good Dog Goods shop in Oak Bluffs is healthful, non-toxic, and made in the U.S.A. Doggie treats here are packed with such healthful natural ingredients that they tempt dog owners too.
“Every single thing I sell could be eaten by humans, but they’re a little hard on our teeth,” Ms. Scott said, laughing.
A longtime dog lover, Ms. Scott has owned Gordon Setters for 35 years. She knows what dogs like and how to keep them healthy.
The goodies are made for Good Dog Goods by two New England bakeries. Some use ingredients from a family farm; others are 100 percent organic and Kosher.
Sounding more like granola bars, dog cookies sold here include blueberries, cranberries, apples, carrots; whole oat, whole barley, rye, brown rice flours; flax and sunflower seeds, quinoa, eggs, canola oil, allspice, and ginger. Crunchy Bites feature berries or pumpkin in whole-wheat dough. Ms. Scott said “Ginger, Green Tea Biscuits” will aid digestion and help an agitated dog relax. Fun confections look like lighthouses, whales, ice-cream cones, and flip-flops, with yogurt or carob frosting.
Meredith Gallo, co-owner of Mocha Mott’s, is the creator of savory biscuits shaped like traditional dog bones.
“When I got my first dog, I loved him so much I wanted to bake for him too,” Ms. Gallo said. The treats were a hit with her Basenji pup, Tito, so she began to sell them. Her tried-and-true recipe combines whole-wheat flour with bacon fat, milk, eggs, and a touch of garlic powder. Dogs love the bones and people do too. They taste like a bacon-flavored garlicky cracker, she said. In fact, they taste good enough that one year Mott’s Vineyard Haven after-school crowd often had dog-bone eating contests.
“Some people come every day, tie their dog outside, get their coffee and a bone for their dog, and the dogs are excited waiting for that bone!”
A longtime destination for dog owners for its super-sized natural dog bones, the Black Dog Bakery in Vineyard Haven has branched out to include more elaborate treats. The array of eye-catching doggie delicacies was unveiled in April.
The all-natural gourmet treats are free of wheat, corn, and soy and include light and dark rye flours, peanut butter, molasses, and canola oil. Displayed at the Black Dog’s two Vineyard Haven locations near the cupcakes and cookies, the canine tidbits are easily mistaken for human confections. Customers are disappointed to learn the luscious looking pastries aren’t for them.
Shaped like donuts, pretzels, cannoli, and even a martini glass with a frosting olive, the firmly textured biscuits are decorated with healthful frosting and bright sprinkles. All are baked at the State Road facility along with the Black Dog’s breads and pastries. Known for its traditional birthday cakes, the Black Dog also sells elaborate dog-friendly birthday cakes so Rover and Lady can celebrate milestones too.
Popular for its Back Door Donuts, cupcakes, and other people pastries, the Martha’s Vineyard Gourmet Cafe and Bakery in Oak Bluffs is a haven for dog treats too.
Co-owners Janice Casey and Rita Brown are devoted dog lovers and delighted to offer canine snacks. The attractive treats include frosted stars, donuts, and dogs, cookies with tiny pastel dog bone shapes on top, and other pretty biscuits purchased from Foppers Gourmet Pet Treat Bakery in Indiana. Ingredients are all natural with a little food coloring in the frosting.
New this year are Puppy Cakes, a packaged mix that pet owners can bake for their four-legged pal. Produced by Uncle Jimmy’s Brands of Pennsylvania, the mix comes in banana, peanut butter, or carob, and blends whole-wheat and peanut flours and rolled oats. Powdered yogurt frosting mix is included.
Dog treats are a natural for Vineyard visitors, Ms. Casey said. “When people come on vacation they have their dog with them, or they feel guilty about not having their dog with them.” Either way, they buy treats.
For a yummy, Island-made treat, look for Peanut Butter Puppy Poppers at Morning Glory Farm in Edgartown and SBS in Vineyard Haven. These mini-biscuits made by Cynthia Pareja of Edgartown combine natural or organic peanut butter with whole-wheat flour and milk for a tasty, nutritious snack. People often enjoy a bite. “They’re all human ingredients,” she said.
When Ms. Pareja and partner Jude Villa adopted Shamu, a somewhat finicky mixed-breed rescue pup, she started baking, trying out recipes on friends’ pets. She concocted a ground lamb and almond meal puppy birthday cake that the human guests shared. Her daughter snacks on her beef and cheese treats. She chose her Puppy Popper recipe because it’s simple, keeps well, and dogs love it.
Ms. Pareja plans to keep her business small and does not expect to get rich from it. “It’s like making Christmas cookies,” she said with a cheerful laugh. “It takes hours. This is not a gold mine. It’s more for fun.”