It started with a great Dane named Quinn.
Six years and several large and much-loved dogs later, Quinn’s Dog Cookies is a thriving business that has owner Dawn Taylor baking up 2,000 biscuits a day.
Quinn was five months old when Taylor and her husband adopted the Harlequin great Dane. Not long after, the pup began to vomit frequently and had some skin irritation around his ears.
“The vets tried different things but nothing seemed to help. One day, I was talking to my mom and she said there is a recipe of my aunt’s that is 100 years old and I tried it after tweaking it a little, and then started with making dog biscuits just for Quinn.
“He loved them and the vomiting subsided and the skin irritations went away.”
Taylor continued baking the dog cookies and started handing them out to friends with dogs.
“They all came back for more and the demand for the cookies was so positive.”
The business aspect of it began when Quinn got out of the yard one day and Taylor was faced with a large fine for having a dog at large.
“I decided to start selling the cookies to pay the fine,” she said. “I’m all about small business, and I started approaching local grocery stores, kennels and pet stores. I said I’ll just leave them here and if people buy them, great. It helps out their business and mine — we are all helping each other out.
“If I’m not out there marketing every day, people will buy whatever else is out there so I have to be out there all the time.”
Taylor bakes up batches every single day, making the healthy treats from locally-grown and sourced ingredients: oat flour, flax seed, rolled oats, roasted pumpkin and honey, flavoured with pork fat drippings.
“These cookies are chock-full of beta carotene, antioxidants, Omega-3, vitamin A and vitamin C. As well, honey is a great anti- inflammatory and super digestive aid,” said Taylor, who has added a new flavour, honey pumpkin harvest crunch. “We use all the ingredients of the Okanagan and recycle our bags as much as we can, but being freshly baked and using all local ingredients is what also keeps our customers happy.”
Sadly, the inspiration behind Quinn’s Dog Cookies crossed the rainbow bridge almost four years ago, but one-year-old great Dane Pirate, a roan merle, is happily enjoying the fruits of Taylor’s labours in the kitchen.
Taylor has lived in Vernon since 1989 and has baked professionally and was a floral designer for 35 years. In addition to running Quinn’s Dog Cookies, she also works as a courier.
“I’m good at selling and I believe in my product and if you don’t believe in a product, you can’t sell it. I have actually had to eat the cookies in front of people to show them how much I believe in what I am making,” said Taylor, who can whip up a batch of cookies in three hours, all in her own home, where she is both Food Safe and Government Service Canada-certified.
After losing her husband in 2009, Taylor has appreciated having her thriving business to keep her occupied.
“He’d be pretty happy to see what I’ve created,” she said.
Taylor smiled when asked about her company’s tongue-in-cheek motto, “No Cats Allowed,” because she admits that she was a cat person, not a dog person, before Quinn joined the family.
“We got our first Dane so my hubby would get out and get some exercise and he was always the dog person. But now I love them and they are definitely a part of my promotion because they draw you in.”
Taylor has also added a fundraising component to her business, with Hearts for Hospice. Anyone finding a heart cookie inside a pouch of Quinn’s Dog Cookies is encouraged to take a photo of their dog with the cookie and email it to email@example.com. Taylor will donate $1 to Hospice for each photo she receives.
In addition to providing dog cookies for the VIP bags during the Vernon Winter Carnival parade, Taylor will happily take part in any school fairs or other fundraising opportunities as a way of giving back to the community that supports her.
“If a school needs my help with fundraising, I will do it — that’s part of my life.”
Quinn’s Dog Cookies are available at several locations throughout the Okanagan, including Save-On Foods at Village Green Centre, Askew’s in Armstrong and the Kalamalka General Store in Coldstream. The cookies can also be ordered online through the company’s web site.
“We thank you for keeping us growing and supporting local producers.”