Patience Spess remembers how she used to slave at her stove every December, making holiday treats for her family.
She still runs the kitchen in her country home at 8581 Hensingersville Road in Macungie pretty much non-stop, but the goodies she's baking are not intended for her family. They're for dogs.
Different family members -- Noah, an eight-year old German short hair pointer, Lily, a five-year-old yellow Labrador retriever and Duke, a two-year old English setter -- are always around to taste test the products.
“I always loved baking,” she said. “I always did something creative for the holidays. Now, I cook a couple hundred dog cookies a day.”
Best in Show Barkery LLC in Macungie officially opened in 2009, but the cookies didn‘t get hot on the market until Parience left her job and started taking the cookies, cupcakes, frozen treats and food to the Macungie and Saucon Valley farmers' markets this year.
She said that the company sells 40 boxes of canine cookies at each farmers' market each week. The prices range from $6 for 4 ounces to $12 for 16 ounces.
Her husband, David, a partner in the business, said that with children Joshua, 22, and Courtney, 20, growing up, they could focus on a startup business. His full-time employment is with an IT company.
Patience said she only wants a small slice of the $48 billion dog food industry. And there are others in the Lehigh Valley that are already taking a nip out of the barkery business, include The Spotted Dog Barkery in Emmaus and Bone Appetite in Bethlehem, she said.
But she wants to make pet products that are organic, healthy and good enough for people to eat. A good part of the ingredients are grown by Lehigh Valley farmers. They are partners in the “Buy Fresh, Buy Local” group.
Indeed, Spess provided several bags of her special treats for Bree, Patch's Top Dog winner last summer.
Canine cookies are sold in three sizes--4 ounce, 8 ounces and 16 ounces, or in pupperware containers.
Flavors include Beef n‘ Veggie, Bison Bites, Fish Bones, Love Your Liver, Muddy Paws, Pumpkin Skrumpin, Tropical Bark and Yamtastic.
Pupcakes include Blueberry Blast, Carobbean Dreamin, What’s Up Doc, Hounddog and Pumpin Patch.
They also sell Pup Pizza and two frozen treats.
“Ultimately you want your dog to live and long and happy, healthy life and to try to avoid those expensive vet bills when they’re sick or have allergies,’’ she said. “A lot of it comes from what they’re eating.”