A Copper Cliff family has taken their desire to give their dogs treats with no additives or preservatives and turned it into a full-fledged business.
Mike and Grace Dempsey have been operating Jake's Kitchen out of their home for about two months now. Their treats are made of dehydrated meats bought locally.
It started with Mike wanting a dehydrator for their own dogs, because of all the news about the negative effects of brand name dog treats on the market, Grace said.
“We just wanted to make treats for our own dogs, treats that don't have all the additives, and so we knew what was going into it,” she said. “So, we started with that, and we also started giving some to friends, but it got to a point where our friends started asking if they could buy them because their dogs were really enjoying them.”
The couple has two dogs Honey Bee and Billy. Billy joined their family via Gentle Jake's Coonhound Rescue out of North Bay.
Gentle Jake's is a non-profit organization whose goal is to educate the public about the misconception that hounds do not make good family pets. They want to inspire dog lovers everywhere to consider adopting a Coonhound.
Gentle Jake's brings in dogs from the Unites States that are heavily over-bred then ditched after hunting season, Grace said. The shelters have high kill rates, and not a lot of people are very interested in hounds.
“So, we bring them here, and we have fosters all over between the U.S. and here,” she said.
Fosters get the hounds healthy and ready for adoption, Grace said.
“When we are able to provide information on the dogs' personalities and what their behaviours are like, because we are taking care of them as fosters, it significantly decreases the return rate when we place them with families that know what they are getting.”
Billy and Honey Bee were the test subjects for the treats.
“Billie is awesome, he's perfect for our family,” Grace said.
Mike and Grace are passionate about the organization, so they decided that all profits made from their business would be donated to Gentle Jake's. To date, they've donated more than $500, and hope to hit the $1,000 mark this month. However, in the spirit of giving, Jake's Kitchen will be splitting their donations between Gentle Jake's and the Sudbury OSCPA for December.
As for the business, things are going really well, said Grace. So well, in fact, the couple has had to purchase a larger dehydrator to keep up with the demand for their treats.
“If things keep going this way, we may need a small storefront – Right now, it's a lot of time after our full-time jobs, and we have two dehydrators, so I've pretty much lost my dining room.”
Their customers enjoy the fact most of their treats are only one ingredient – their beef hearts are just that, beef hearts, and their pig skins are purely pig skins.
“They don't have the chemicals or the preservatives, because we're using the dehydration process as our preservative,” she said. “Most of our meat comes from Sudbury-based businesses, so we know where it's coming from and what's going into these treats.”
For more information about Jake's Kitchen, visit their Facebook page.
For more information on Gentle Jake's, visit coonhoundrescue.ca.