Entering the Three Dog Bakery, the first things I take in are the smells. Cinnamon, peanut butter, honey and other delicious odors waft across my nose. (I can only imagine what the super-sensitive canine olfactory glands are picking up.)
Almost simultaneously, right up front of the store, I spot the “pastry” display case. Baked dog treats are arranged so attractively and are so delectable looking that my mouth is practically watering. Clever but not too cutesy names like “waggin’ wheel,” “pupcakes” and “mutteroons” are used to describe an array of baked goodies that would put a high end patisserie to shame.
Towards the back, there’s an open kitchen so spotless that a baby could eat off the floor, never mind the dog. A tray of boxer brownies is cooling on a rack and a slab of “carrot” cake lies waiting to be cut.
The Three Dog Bakery was born of a desperate need to save the life of an ailing Great Dane. The creators of the franchise, two guys named Dan Dye and Mark Beckloff, wanted to come up with healthy, all natural treats to nurse the sick puppy, Gracie, back to health. It worked, and the bakery took off from there (the rest of the heart-warming story can be read at threedog.com).
There’s no doubt the ingredients and quality of the food from the franchised bakeries are indeed superior: There are no by-products, fillers or chemicals used. There are also all-natural entrees available, prepackaged; these provide an alternative to commercial pet foods.
They haven’t forgotten other furry friends either, with a selection of “Pity the Kitty” delicacies.
I can’t resist picking up several snacks for my dog Jack to sample, and to get his critical opinion of such treats as the Bulldog Bar, Itty Bitty Scary Kitties, and Dottie’s Spots Carob Chip Cookies. Unlike me, he doesn’t seem concerned with the nuances, the little subtleties of his food; he wolfs down each offering with equal enthusiasm.
And while the bakery may have altruistic beginnings, the fact is that pets are fast becoming big business; according to Stats Canada, dogs alone are a $1.5 billion annual industry. Pets are becoming less and less work animals and more like one of the family, for better or worse. And the key to the pet business is the appeal to the owner.
Jack doesn’t care if his oatcakes look as good as the ones I would eat, but I sure do. The visual display up front is more for me than for him---and it works.
For middle class dog owners, having a place like the Three Dog Bakery is all about personal luxuries. Just as we splurge on the over-priced Tall Mocchachino Deluxe with Soy Foam blah blah blah for ourselves, we feel good when we pick out the $6.99 jarof Pooch Smooch (9oz) instead of theMilk Bones.
We might not all be able to afford a collar of Swarovski crystals for our pooch, but a couple of bucks for a Growl-nola cookie is not out of reach.
And Three Dog Bakery really is a feel-good kind of place that does manage to combine their business and personal side. Dogs are permitted---indeed, encouraged---to come in and sniff around, and there’s a “community wall” of doggie client pictures. Other dog owners are chatting, exchanging information about Fido’s and Spot’s favourites.
All that’s missing is a people coffee bar, and this would be one cool place.