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Sunday, March 3, 2024

Cookies for Canines

Very few dogs can resist the allure of peanut butter. As soon as I begin to open the jar, my pup magically appears at my feet with an unbreakable trance, staring me down. In 2009, local entrepreneur Chris Thomas discovered a way to share his peanut butter with his Great Pyrenees, Bear, by whipping up healthy (and safe) cookies in his own kitchen.

When the Thomases adopted Bear from an Owensboro, Kentucky, sheep farmer in 2007, they were eager to begin raising their 10-week old puppy. After a trip to the pet store, they began feeding Bear kibble, only to find out he had never seen dog food before in his life.

“The sheep farmers fed him exactly what they ate at the dinner table: mashed potatoes, chicken, vegetables,” says Thomas. “Bear didn’t know what the dog food was when we put it in front of him because it didn’t look like the food he had eaten.”

Bear didn’t eat Milk-Bone® biscuits either. Or most of the other types of dog treats. One thing he did like were peanut butter cookies made by Chris’ wife, Jennifer. Packed with 100 calories apiece, the husband and wife team thought if they extracted the fat and sugar, the cookies would be healthier and a suitable treat for Bear. After confirming the idea with their veterinarian, who collaborated on the recipes, the Thomases began baking homemade peanut butter cookies that were a safe alternative to regular dog biscuits. The duo calls their kitchen Bears Bone Bakery.

“Our cookies are made with no preservatives or artificial coloring. We import the Tahitian vanilla bean and the Saigon cinnamon and they are all USDA grade, low-fat and low-sugar versions of the made-for-human cookies,” says Thomas. “About 80 percent of the fat and sugar has been removed. They still have the cookie flavor, which makes them delicious for people to eat, too.”

If you were around the corner of Vogel Road and Green River Road during the winter months, you’ve probably seen Thomas and Bear selling treats out of a red wagon in the Harp’s Exotic Fish & Pets parking lot on N. Green River Road. The duo also attends most area farmers markets.

“Bear does the selling. People love the treats, but most will come up to pet and play with Bear,” says Thomas. “We have to put him to work, too; after all, this is a family business.”

When the peanut butter cookie became such a hit, the Thomases incorporated other flavors in the treats: cranberry oatmeal, bacon, cheddar, and a new cookie coming soon — pumpkin ginger snap.

Bears Bone Bakery treats are sold at Tri-State Vet and Pet Supply, Twilight Bistro, Harp’s Exotic Fish & Pets, Pets 1st, Give A Dog A Bone, Vanderburgh County Humane Society, Epperson’s Veterinary Clinic, and Gabby’s Boutique in Henderson, Kentucky.

For more information about Bears Bone Bakery, visit bearsbonebakery.com.

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