The Herald Bulletin

June 19, 2013

Doggone good

Woofer's whips up wholesome treats for dogs

By Nancy R. Elliott
The Herald Bulletin

---- — ANDERSON – It all started with a little abandoned dog, lost on the day of a massive snowstorm in January 2009. It was a day that left 12 inches of snow on the ground.

The miniature pinscher was spotted by a customer coming into the Cross Street business that Judy Sells’ husband, Phil, ran at the time.

“He was just sitting outside of our door,” said Judy. “We picked him up and brought him in.” The Anderson couple spent about a month trying to locate the dog’s owner, but fate was at work.

“We’ve had him ever since,” said Judy. “We were adopted by the little min pin.” They called the tiny guy Dobie.

Dobie’s arrival inspired Judy to make treats that he would like but that were also good for him.

“I started making organic and natural cookies for him,” said Judy. “I did a lot of research – what was good for dogs, what they shouldn’t have.”

She discovered that some tasty items like peanut butter, carob, white chocolate, cheese, oatmeal and flax seed were good for dogs. On the other hand, things like raisins, grapes, onions, macadamia and chocolate are not.

“I would take free ones around the neighborhood,” said Judy. The local dogs became her official taste-testers. “It just snowballed from there.”

Four years later, Judy has a successful small business called “Woofer’s Biscuit Bakery.” She makes and sells about nine varieties of dog ‘cookies.’ They are all home-baked, and made from organic, natural ingredients with no wheat, no corn, no soy and no added sugar. Although she makes them for dogs, Judy noted, “They’re all human consumable.”

Judy sells her goodies at various events, including the Pendleton Farmers Market where dogs are drawn as if by magnets to the Woofer’s booth. “I have lots of repeat doggies.”

This year, Judy will be setting up during Atlanta Days for the first time, as well as at various church bazaars, craft shows and other events. Woofer’s doggie treats are also available at Zinszer’s, and through a shop in Shipshewana.

Dobie often attends the events where Judy sells her cookies. “People like him. They think he’s cute, and he can schmooze with the other dogs.” She also noted, “Dobie is VP of quality control.”

That’s evident on a recent morning when Judy’s got her apron on in the kitchen making up a batch of Peanut Mutters.

“With the cross-hatching just like grandma used to do,” said Judy. Dobie happily snatches up a treat, and hides under a chair with it.

“He’s definitely a very spoiled dog who eats these things daily,” said Phil.

Mutt-n-honey is another one of Judy’s very popular cookies. It includes peanut butter, applesauce, oats and honey.

“I even make “muttins.” She said they’re like little muffins for dogs.

Husband Phil is an integral part of the Woofer’s operation, helping out especially on the marketing end of things. Not only does Judy call him VP of marketing, she said Phil pitches in to help out in the kitchen from time to time.

“At first, he thought I was nuts,” said Judy. Once things got rolling, however, Phil totally supported Judy in her undertaking. “He became a true believer.”

Woofer’s gives Judy an opportunity to do something she loves.

“I may be tired at the end of the day, but I really enjoy it,” said Judy. “I just always liked to bake. My mom used to bake apple pies every summer because we had apple trees.”

She even earned the nickname “Judy Pie” from the fire station to which she used to bring fruit pies.

Acknowledging the serendipitous path to her current enterprise, Judy said, “God has been with me in this whole endeavor. Ideas are just popping into my mind all the time.”

Phil agreed, “It’s in her heart. She’s very dedicated to it.”

Look for Woofer’s on Saturdays at the Pendleton Farmers Market, at other local events, or at Zinszer’s. For more information, contact woofers_bb@yahoo.com or call 765-649-6449.

Like Nancy Elliott on Facebook and follow her on Twitter @NancyElliott_HB, or call 640-4805.