(Story and photos are reprinted by permission from Living Art Blog)
I'd like to introduce you to another one of my clever neighbors, Stephanie Farrar. (I have so many creative neighbors, I think there must be something in the water.) Stephanie is the brains and baking behind The Canine Cookie Company and she lives right across the street from me! I know, right? She's got it made: A successful business doing something she loves, she's one of Pepper's favorite people, in no small part due to her delicious dog treats!, she gets to meet all sorts of dogs and their people, and she's got me for a neighbor! Seriously though, Stephanie and her husband Craig are two of the sweetest people and I am so excited to tell you all about the Canine Cookie Company.
Rough Start: Back in 2004 many dog foods and treats were being recalled because they were making dogs sick and sometimes even killing them. Stephanie was scared to feed her beautiful German shepherd, Sherman, anything that she hadn't made herself.
Through trial and error and a lot of taste testing by Sherman, Stephanie came up with a cookie recipe full of all sorts of good tasting, natural ingredients.
Inspiration from The Trump: Stephanie was interested in selling her treats when, as luck would have it, a friend opened up a pet boutique on the Square, which presented Stephanie with the perfect opportunity. She got her cookies in one shop and then a few others, and then she got a message from The Donald … Donald Trump, that is.
Trump was on a show on CNBC that was geared toward entrepreneurs and one afternoon he was advising the guest that he needed to spend the time and effort to build his brand before franchising. Stephanie said it was like Donald was speaking directly to her and she spent the next two years doing just that: Building her brand and creating a following. She got her cookies into any pet store, groomers, or vets that would take them and got booth space at the McKinney Farmer's Market. All of that effort paid off when Stephanie outgrew her kitchen and got a website and a storefront in 2011.
Helping Hands: While she was establishing her brand Stephanie was generating a loyal following whose demand for homemade dog treats became more than Stephanie could generate on her own, unless she decided to forgo silly things like sleeping and eating. Not willing to give up those silly things, Stephanie enlisted the help of several stay-at-home moms.
These moms take the batter, all made by Stephanie, and several cookie sheets home with them to roll it out and cut the cookies. They then return the now filled cookie sheets to Stephanie to bake and bag. Stephanie knew that she wanted to hire stay-at-home moms because Stephanie, a mom of four (one daughter and three four legged children), had been one when her daughter was growing up and she felt this was the perfect job to do at home. It gives these women the opportunity to earn a little spare money while spending time with their families.
Stephanie believes that moms give up a lot to stay at home and "no one works harder than a mom." Her faith in these women has paid off and Stephanie has a loyal set of cookie cutters that help her turn out these delicious treats.
It's Cookie Time: The Canine Cookie Company started with chicken flavored cookies which expanded to include beef and sweet potato. Stephanie was getting so many requests for peanut butter that she created the Pup Tart, which is a cookie filled with peanut butter. She even made special, extra large Pup Tarts for Christmas this year which were so popular that they are being added to the normal menu of treats. Got a dog birthday or family occasion coming up and need a special treat for your four legged family member? Stephanie can help you out there too! Not only can she make a birthday cake especially for your dog, complete with cream cheese and ricotta "frosting," but she also makes Puppy Cakes and Pup Cakes!
The Puppy Cakes and Pup Cakes are the same delicious, fresh made goodness as the birthday cakes, but cupcake and mini-cupcake sizes. (Stephanie actually sent me home with two Puppy Cakes after our interview and I had visions of taking pictures of Pepper smelling the adorable little cakes on a fun china plate, but the minute I got near her Pepper grabbed the first one and tried to swallow it whole! I had to break the second one up into small bites so that I knew she was actually chewing. Sheesh, dogs!)
Cookie Karma: I mentioned before that Stephanie was super sweet, but let me just tell you how sweet: The day that I brought Pepper home from the DFW Lab Rescue a giant bag of goodies magically appeared on my porch! Stephanie and Craig has bagged up all sorts of treats and goodies with a note welcoming Pepper to the neighborhood! I know! I love my neighbors/friends!!! Not only are they great to neighbors and friends, but they also support several dog related charities!
You can hear Stephanie Wednesday mornings on KLAK-FM 97.5 for Freemont's Furry Friends, where each week a new animal from the Collin County Animal Shelter is featured in hopes of finding a forever home. The Canine Cookie Company also has a donation bin where they collect items, as well as monetary donations, for the Collin County Animal Shelter. Recently they were able to get all new office chairs for the Shelter workers! Stephanie is also a big supporter of cancer research, including that focused on dogs. "I truly believe we should all be the person that our dog thinks we are and that is what we should strive for."
Puppy Party Time: Several years ago a woman in McKinney brought a New Orleans tradition to Texas, the Krewe of Barkus! Krewe of Barkus is an annual event that celebrates Mardi Gras, but for dogs! Stephanie and The Canine Cookie Company have been long time, vendors, volunteers, and now committee members. This year they are expecting over 300 dogs all decked out in their Parisian finest in honor of this year's theme "All Things French," plus numerous floats, and vendors and spectators galore! "Daisy, the queen of The Canine Cookie Company, is thinking she needs a float. How else would you display such a magnificent spokesperson for the Canine Cookie Company?" Krewe of Barkus is Sunday, Feb. 15 from 12:30 p.m. to 4 p.m., with the parade at 2 p.m. So be sure to gather up your family, especially the four legged ones, and come out for some doggone good fun! (I know, terrible pun, but I couldn't resist!)
"I've had a lot of loss in my life in the last couple of years and my new motto is: 'Live your life like there's no end to your leash.'" — Stephanie
About the author: Elizabeth (Beth) Matlock is a native Texas artist based in McKinney, Texas. Beth found her love of art early in life and turned that into a Bachelor's Degree in Fine Art. After that she spent nearly three years studying in New Zealand before coming back to Texas where she finished her Master's Degree in Landscape Architecture. Beth's Flora and Fauna series combines her love of nature and her passion for art. The evocative photographs are reminiscent of Georgia O'Keefe and her digital art is inspired by the gilded age of Art Nouveau and Art Deco. One of her pieces, “Lupinus texensis and Coccinella septempunctata,” was chosen as one of the 43 finalists, out of over 100 entries, to be displayed in the first annual Juried Art Show put on by the Arts and Music Guild at the McKinney Performing Arts Center. Beth has recently started a blog where she has begun to share her art with the world wide web, LivingArt-ArtPhotography.blogspot.com. She is also starting a landscape blog and a garden club. For more information on Beth's art, landscape designs, and/or garden club, please e-mail her at LivingArt.ArtPhotography@gmail.com or call 972-542-9036. Various prints are available at Diggin' It in McKinney and Fine Art America.