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Small business caters to canines

Pam Boettcher loves to bake, and she loves her dog. When tainted dog food hit the market in 2007, the Gordon woman rolled her two passions together and began cooking up homemade treats for her yellow lab Lexie. Over the years, the goodies have be...

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Pam Boettcher of Gordon puts a batch of homemade dog treats in the oven. While she’s been making tasty morsels for years after tainted dog food hit the market, she is now hoping to turn the hobby into a full-time business, Treats4k9. (Maria Lockwood)

Pam Boettcher loves to bake, and she loves her dog. When tainted dog food hit the market in 2007, the Gordon woman rolled her two passions together and began cooking up homemade treats for her yellow lab Lexie. Over the years, the goodies have been showcased at the annual Gift & Thrift event and offered to friends. Now, Boettcher is hoping to turn her hobby into a full-time business, Treats4K9.

"This is the year to get on the horse and ride," she said.

The treats roll good nutrition and good taste together in small batches. The final ingredient on every label is love.

"My dog just gobbles them up," said Cathi Cosgrove of Gordon. "She eats them like crazy."

Cosgrove’s mini-schnauzer, Shelby, is on Boettcher’s taste testing panel. While Lexie enthusiastically endorses every recipe Boettcher tries, she is not a very discerning judge.

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"Labs love everything," she said.

A cookbook collector, Boettcher said many of her recipes for canine treats had their beginning as meals for humans. One popular treat, Nutty Monkey, began as biscotti. The recipes are tweaked and tested until they meet the Gordon woman’s satisfaction.

"I have had to re-work some recipes half a dozen times," Boettcher said. The Moo and Oink snacks that incorporate liver and bacon, for example, took, quite some time to perfect.

Soy flour adds extra protein to the treats, which incorporate everything from yams, bananas and pineapple to more traditional fare like lamb, turkey and salmon. Boettcher uses only fresh, human-consumable fixings with no added sugar, preservatives or artificial ingredients. In addition to getting approval from Lexie and taste testers, Boettcher samples the goodies herself.

Over the years, Boettcher has made some changes to the appearance of the treats - some look like mini peanut butter cookies and others are rolled in cinnamon prior to baking for visual appeal. But they will never have the finished appearance of store-bought treats.

"They look like they’re homemade," Boettcher said, because they are. The small-batch snacks are nutritious, safe and get a high approval rating from canines. Shelby prefers Treats4K9 snacks over anything store bought.

"I don’t know if she’s got a favorite," Cosgrove said. "She loves them all. Shelby will eat just about anything Pam makes."

Michele Johnson, owner of the Golden Chipmunk Resort bar and grill in Wascott has enjoyed watching Boettcher develop her business over the years.

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"I know she’s very careful to use the best quality and, nutrition-wise, what’s good for animals," Johnson said. Her springer spaniel, Schatzi, has been sampling Treats4K9 for the past two years. Boettcher’s goodies bring Schatzi running.

"She really does care and she really wants it to be the best for puppies," Johnson said.

Treats4K9 will be featured at the annual Gift & Thrift sale, which runs 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday in the Gordon Town Hall. In addition to the dog treats, the event will feature the woodwork of Mert Warner, handcrafted jewelry, photo cards, baked goods, candy, soy candles, handmade baskets and more. Visitors can enjoy holiday music and free hot cider. Donations for the Gordon Area Food Shelf also will be accepted during the event.

Boettcher’s homemade goodies sell for $2.50 to $4 per bag, with plans to offer bulk packaging in the near future. More information on the business is available on the Facebook page Treats4K9. Orders can be made via email to treats4k9@hughes.net . A website, www.gordonwi.us/Treats4k9 , is also in the works.

Related Topics: DOUGLAS COUNTY
Maria Lockwood covers news in Douglas County, Wisconsin, for the Superior Telegram.
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