Woofing it up
By MATT KENWRIGHT
Every dog has its day, but it takes a special one to inspire a namesake brand of dog treats.
Tip, a labrador/daschund sheltland mix, left a legacy of companionship with his family. Rhonda Baker, his owner, bakes Tip's Treats to repay man's best friend.
"It is amazing how an animal's natural senses can take over in a stressful situation," Baker said. "I am paying back all my departed canine friends by making these treats."
Coming in such shapes as Christmas trees, bones, fire hydrants, bells and stars, the dog snacks are homemade in Baker's kitchen. Ingredients include oatmeal, carob and vanilla chips, dog beef jerky, plain yogurt, carrots, sweet potatoes, cinnamon and different cheeses.
Although the ingredients might be unconventional, they have been a hit.
"I haven't found a dog who hasn't liked them," Baker said.
Each treat is named after canines that belong to friends and family.
Lady's Chees-Ee, Serenity's Scrumptious PB Oatmeal, Lark-A-Doodle, Sage's Savory Meaty Muffins and Danion's Delights are among the offerings.
Baker was inspired to cook the treats 13 years ago after she realized one of her dogs was allergic to chicken. She has developed five recipes and finds more online she adjusts for flavor and texture.
Kim Perez, president of Friends of the Hays Dog Park, said she has given Baker's treats to two of her dogs. It is a comfort to know the snacks are healthier because they do not have preservative chemicals in them, she said.
"They enjoy them quite a bit, and they weren't hard like a lot of the stuff you get at the stores," Perez said. "My dogs are older and have more sensitive teeth, so they were nice and soft for them."
Baker said she has given the treats as gifts and donated them to community bake sales and Humane Society of the High Plains. She might pursue a commercial license to sell them next year.
Tip's Treats already have a fan base outside of Kansas. They have been shipped to Maryland, Nebraska, Texas, Missouri, Pennsylvania and Arizona.
Two of the most popular flavors are cheesy garlic and the beef snack. One batch can be more than 300 treats.
Much like a pet, the hobby has been a part of the family for years. Baker's granddaughters, 4-year-old Brianna and 5-year-old Allayne, recently joined her to bake.
The afternoon's session was more than a day spent with "Nanny." Baker passed on her cooking tips and taught the sisters teamwork.
"You have to push down harder," Baker told Brianna as she struggled to use the cookie cutter on the dough. "Kneel down, punch and wiggle, wiggle, wiggle."
The children were taught how to crack eggs, use measuring cups and roll dough.
The treats are not just limited to dogs. Humans and cats also can eat them, but they have not caught on with felines yet.
"Cats are finicky," Baker said.