No bones about it, the dog-eat-dog world
is a thing of the past. These days, it’s more of a dog-eat-gourmet-biscuit
landscape. At least that’s the case in Brooklyn, where hungry
hounds can enjoy a variety of freshly baked, wholesome snacks.
More good news: man’s best friend can show his unconditional love by sharing his treats with the human mouth connected to the hand that feeds him, as many of the treats baked for dogs are designed to be eaten by people, too. In fact, many are quite tasty!
"Dogs have more saliva, so their treats are all going to be a little dry," says Devorah Fong, who’s been baking Woofbites treats in her Ditmas Park kitchen since November 2004. Fong insists on taste-testing every goody that leaves her oven. Especially crunchy ones, like her "Parmesan snap," can be tricky to bite into, given their thickness.
"I licked it," she said. "A lot."
Fong’s "carob yummies" are on the other end of the spectrum: moist, addictive and easier to woof down than a Stella D’oro Breakfast Treat. The miniatures come in shapes: a hydrant, a paw and, of course, a bone. And each all-organic snack of whole wheat flour, applesauce, peanut oil, eggs, pure clover honey and unsulfured molasses is dotted with carob.
Fong uses carob because dogs, the poor dears, need to keep their distance from chocolate, a toxin for wet nosers.
Luckily, there are ways to compensate. Rowf, a chic doggie boutique in Brooklyn Heights, has an array of organic, specially baked and pre-packaged snacks. With the Chinese Year of the Dog nipping at our heels - the New Year celebrations kick off on Jan. 29 - this chic Brooklyn Heights shop is awaiting a shipment of new treats.
Currently, dog cookie baking kits are in stock, and the recipe for "Boo’s Dog Biscuits," named for the resident cocker spaniel, is spelled out on the shop’s blackboard. Yuning Chiu says her partner in business, life and doggie derring-do, Connie Liu, is slated to make another batch of home-baked biscuits for Chinese New Year.
The pair of bipeds recently hosted a tasting party for Fidos and friends.
"The idea is to share," Chiu said, offering a visitor a piece of Uberbone, an Italian flatbread biscuit topped with soy Parmesan, the free sample du jour. The cracker tasted burnt to this vertebrate’s palate, but, perhaps the pups enjoy them.
Chiu favors the Parmesan bone, but said that the ginger cookie bark, made by Manhattan-based Dog Town Bites, also sent many human tails wagging.
When it comes to her own pooches, Boo and Scooby, a toy poodle, she’s equally diplomatic.
"I’m pro-variety," said Chiu. "They happen to like that."
Malcolm Smart, owner of Park Slope’s Top Dog Shop, unleashed the same sentiment. His newly opened store specializes in natural and homeopathic products for four footers and has been doing a brisk business in biscuits, with some two dozen savory and sweet varieties on hand, all imported from Galloping Gourmutts, a Chicago-based barkery.
"We’ve sold out of the wheat-free mailman," he announced, alluding to a simple silhouette of a cookie.
His bakery case is filled with cinnamon buns (drizzled with yogurt), cannoli (peanut butter-filled with chopped almonds) and poochy pizza slices, all remarkably agreeable to this human tongue.
(Digestion, however, is a separate issue. People are advised to enjoy dog treats - made with human grade ingredients - in moderation, with a lot of water.)
The wheat germ-laced "BBQ Squirrel" had a bit of a spicy kick to it.
"We wanted something that wasn’t too serious," said Smart, taking a micro-bite of a sesame-seeded doggy pretzel stick and suggesting this reporter apply a container of Dream Coat to her mane "for shine."
On Park Slope’s Fifth Avenue, Buttercup PAW-tisserie’s treats are sure to add a glimmer to any bowwow’s fang. Named for a cocker spaniel, the family business (founded by brother- and sister-in-law Scott and Betty Wong) serviced national clients from a Queens facility for two years. At Thanksgiving, just before the shop opened in its current location, the Wongs filled a last-minute order for 2,000 high heel-shaped cookies for Nordstrom. Here, over 30 varieties of treats include a savory turkey and cranberry snack (more well-balanced than most of my meals), the chedda ’n’ carrot cracker (tasty as a Pepperidge Farm goldfish), a salmon-shaped treat (vaguely fishy upon impact) and biscotti, in pumpkin pecan and liver and herb flavors.
Woof-inducing birthday cakes are also baked fresh to order, with no added sugar, salt or preservatives.
Even long-standing pet stores can’t resist the whiff of a home-baked bite. Case in point: Acme Pet Supply on Vanderbilt Avenue in Prospect Heights sells handcrafted, organic dog biscuits baked by Red Hook company Robbie Dawg, available in handy-dandy "let’s go for a walk" tins. The crumb-proof packaging makes it easy to have beef barley or cheddar and bacon training bits on hand at all times.
"People love their pets and want to give them something from their own hearts," says Fong, ever the devoted baker and tester. Indeed, such fetching treats are hard to resist.
Gourmet dog treats are available at
Acme Pet Food Inc. [628 Vanderbilt Ave. between Park Place and Prospect Street in Prospect Heights, (718) 789-8062]. Packaged organic treats: $3.99$9.99.
Buttercup’s PAW-tisserie [63 Fifth Ave. at St. Marks Place in Park Slope, (718) 399-2228, www.butter
Rowf [43 Hicks St. at Middagh Street in Brooklyn Heights, (718) 858-7506, www.rowfny.com]. Packages of organic treats: $3$7.99.
Top Dog Shop [169 Lincoln Place at Seventh Avenue in Park Slope, (718) 246-4600, www.topdogshop.com]. Single treats: $1$2.
Woofbites in Ditmas Park. Orders placed through the Web site, www.woofbites.com, or by telephone at (718) 207-2303. For more information, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Bags of treats: $4$10; free delivery with orders of $20 or more.