The crowd of canines gathering around Heather Valentine’s Tumalo home can only be the result of savory smells wafting from her
Valentine is the lucky owner of Sweets-N-Treats, a new homestyle bakery of natural and organic snacks and bones for all breeds of dogs. Her growing lineup of wholesome, tasty biscuits and bones has pup salivary glands working overtime and has branded her one of dog’s best friends. She’s branching out this summer with new products and hopes to start supplying select retail outlets in the Sisters, Redmond and Bend areas.
“Everything is baked from scratch and the reactions from dogs and their owners has been really good,” she said, “90 percent of the people who bought my products are repeat customers so that’s pretty exciting for your first year out. This is such a huge area for dogs and I want to make sure none of them go hungry. Providing nutritious, fun food for owners to give their pets is something I truly take to heart.”
Originally from Northern California, Valentine moved to Central Oregon three years ago and has been a lover of dogs and cooking all her life.
“A year or so ago I bought some imported, mystery-meat doggie treats from a big chain warehouse store in Bend and had a scary experience,” Valentine remembered. “My dachshund – cocker mix, Daisy Mae, had a severe reaction to the product. I really thought she was dying. She wouldn’t eat or drink and this is a girl who doesn’t miss a meal. It took four days for her to recover and I decided at that point I’d start making homemade treats and then expanded to dog soups and thought hey, I can make this a little business. At the time I was also cooking gluten-free baked good for human customers allergic to flour products: cupcakes, cheesecakes and cookies, then added a dog biscuit line.”
Many of Valentine’s cookies and treats are formulated for dogs with allergies or are sensitive to wheat, corn and other grain ingredients. Others contain basic natural foods that are easily digested and provide key vitamins and minerals.
“Right now I’m offering two main items – my Knapples, a chewy apple mini-muffin for dogs made with rice, apples, fresh eggs and wheat flour, and the Bucknut Krunchies, which are gluten-free and baked with buckwheat flour, cheddar cheese, toasted almonds and eggs,” she said. “I just came out with a larger size after people requested treats for their bigger breeds and smaller, original squares for toy breeds and puppies. I also have Almond Butter Bones, tiny bone-shaped treats with almonds, wheat germ, spelt flour and frosted with buttermilk. Those are a big seller and smell delicious. I like to keep all the ingredients simple. Everything is under ten dollars and prices range from $3-7 a bag.”
Valentine’s soups and gravies are meant for dogs as an additive to their normal kibble and cooked with meat drippings and broth made from boiled soup bones. There’s no added salts or sugars. Her chicken and rice soup is literally made from whole chicken right from the pot to the pooch.
“I remove the bones and fat and make it just like grandmother would serve and add carrots and brown rice,” she said. “Dogs love it because they think it’s people food. It must be refrigerated, though, like the apple muffins. Additional flavors are beef barley and beef vegetable and sell for $7 per quart or $4.50 for a pint jar. More flavors are on their way.”
Never satisfied with the current menu, Valentine brings her endless enthusiasm and creativity to the canine kitchen.
“For the last year I’ve been experimenting on new recipes using different flours and seasonings. It’s really a fine balancing act, finding the right blends and proportions,” Valentine said. “Right now it’s all about getting the word out. I’m in the process of completing my website and customers can see prices and my ingredient lists which is updated as new selections arrive. I welcome feedback to assist with the formulas and love comments to help refine tastes and textures. There’s never a handling charge on any order and standard postal fees apply.”
Right now it’s all about spreading the word, as any small business owner is well aware. But dogs of Central Oregon can sleep well at night, knowing Valentine will be up again the next morning, baking more bags of good eats.
Watch for Sweets-N-Treats at summer fairs, markets and special events in Sisters and Bend this summer. She’ll also be a vendor attending the Redmond Farmers Market every Tuesday starting June 14.
www.sweets24-7.com or 541-708-FOOD (3663).