WINDHAM, Ohio – A warm, garlicky smell greets Ben Rising at his door. He thinks he walked into an Italian brick oven rather than his own home.
“What’s for dinner?” he asks his wife, Melody.
“Dinner?” she replies. “Not for you, honey. This is for the dogs.”
Meet Cheyenne. Although Ben’s hopes of an Italian feast are dashed, another member of the family barks with happiness.
Twelve-week-old Cheyenne, a well-behaved black Lab with sleek, ebony hair and big paws, is too young to realize her luck. Don’t all families who adopt dogs make them “lolli-pups” and “pupizzas?”
She just knows homemade treats always fill her doggie-print jar. A batch of tantalizing delicacies is always cooking. And a taste-tester is always needed.
Especially now, since a tray of tiny cheese and garlic bones just came out of the oven.
Cheyenne gobbles them whole. She looks up for more, tail wagging.
Natural. It takes work to make dog treats. Melody Rising spends many late nights, after her three little boys are tucked in bed, experimenting in her Windham, Ohio, home.
She digs through cookbooks, altering recipes so they’re healthy for dogs. Cut the salt, skip the sugar, substitute carob for chocolate. Absolutely no preservatives.
It’s part of her goal for healthy, all-natural dog snacks.
In the works. Pampered Paws Bakery hasn’t been official for a year yet. But Melody’s been dreaming of this for much longer.
Always the dog lover, Melody knew how fun it would be to have a pet bakery.
It came to fruition when her mother’s dog, Cherokee, another black Lab, started shaking.
Not much could stop, nor explain, her seizures.
So Melody investigated.
The first thing she decided was Cherokee shouldn’t be eating preservatives, used to make food last longer.
But it was hard to find snacks without them.
So, Melody headed to the kitchen.
Call it coincidence, or call it science, but when Cherokee stopped eating preservatives, the seizures stopped, too.
Paws up? Now, Melody has two eager treat-eaters – Cherokee and Cheyenne.
But dogs aren’t always as eager to scarf down anything as you might think. The canine duo sometimes turns down recipes. Sniff and forget it.
The difficult pinwheels Melody recently tried were a paws down. But she didn’t mind, they took too long anyway.
A year ago, her first attempt was biscuits and they’ve been a hit ever since.
Other creations include minibagels, barbecue sticks, apple-a-day cookies, muddy paw prints, pupizzas, twisty cheese sticks, lolli-pups, breath busters, and one that uses a natural antiflea ingredient.
They all have Cherokee and Cheyenne’s slobber of approval.
But some also need further endorsement.
Melody has been known to try a few treats herself. She gives a nod to the bagels and biscuits, particularly the cheddar and garlic flavor. Her husband’s buddy especially likes them, popping them like cookies.
Ultimately, though, it doesn’t mater what her taste buds say. It’s up to the dogs.
Eager bakers. Sometimes it takes tiny hands to press the metal cutters into the dough. And Melody’s three boys, ages ranging from 4 to 10, eagerly take on the job.
Most of the bones are 2 1/2 -inches, but some are miniature for smaller dogs.
Zach, Jarrod and Blaine especially like picking out the shapes, which change with the season. Hearts for Valentine’s, bats for Halloween, candy canes for Christmas.
And then there’s the gift baskets, with a variety of treats and Happy Birthday themes.
Another specialty is BYOB – bake your own bones. Customers take them home, add a couple ingredients to the mix, roll out the dough and use the bone-shaped cookie cutter to make their own treats.
Bakery shop. Melody wants a real bakery someday. A little shop in town where all the treats are in glass cases and it always smells like warm bread.
But for now, her kitchen will have to do. The late nights baking when the boys are in bed, and taking her dog snacks to craft shows and advertising on the Internet are fine for now.
Plus, it gives her time to research new ideas.
Information about snacks and nutrition for horses, cats, birds and hamsters already fill a shelf. Now, she just needs to get cooking.
And find a few more taste-testers who aren’t so partial to dog treats.
(Reporter Kristy Hebert welcomes reader feedback by phone at 1-800-837-3419, ext. 23, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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