I don’t usually check the labels or the list of ingredients of the food I eat, or think too much about how healthy (or bad) a meal is for me. (Yes, I know. I ought to improve my habits.)
Not so with my dogs. :) I do my research before I feed or give them anything. That’s why when I read this statement on The Barkery Singapore’s website – “We are not kidding when we say your pooch is eating better than most people when savouring our food.” – I couldn’t help but think about myself as a dog owner and what I do for my dogs. I seriously believe that they eat so much better than me, which says a lot about… me. Hehehe. :)
Established in 2011, The Barkery Singapore creates cakes, pies, snacks, treats, and more for dogs using human-grade ingredients while adhering to strict, stringent standards. There are absolutely no preservatives, chemicals, sugar, cream, and other artificial ingredients in their products. Oh, and they also offer a range of supplements.
Thanks to shops like theirs, we don’t have to worry about where to get good, healthy and delicious food for our pets.
The bosses – and the ones whose opinions matter the most
The Barkery Singapore is run by mother-and-daughter team, Elizabeth and Ann Marie Chua – and should we say their pooches? :)
“Well, the inspiration (for our cakes and creations) mainly derives from our own dogs,” Ann Marie admits. “They each have their own personalities and health issues, so we try to come up with products that will help them live the best life they can.”
She tells us about Toby, their Golden Retriever. “Toby is incredibly greedy, but also suffers from a host of joint and mobility issues. So many of the treats we make, like the Probiotic Chicken Feet and Probiotic Chicken Neck, are offered with his issues in mind. The collagen and cartilage from those treats help with his joints, as we marinate some of them with turmeric to help with the inflammation.”
And then there’s Sasha, their rescue dog. “Sasha was saved at a very young age, having suffered from a major neck wound. She’s very picky and particular about her food, but we realised that if it smells really good, she’ll eat whatever you offer. So she’s one of the inspirations behind why we sometimes use herbs and spices like oregano, cinnamon and turmeric to naturally flavour our meat treats. These herbs and spices have plenty of health benefits as well.”
And let’s not forget their third dog, Micah. “Micah is something in between. He’ll basically eat anything that is strong-smelling, so he loves organ treats of any kind. If it’s smelly, he’ll love it. He also has a host of problems to navigate as well, as he suffers from a thyroid disorder and constantly has to battle skin and mood issues. But he’s a super sweet boy who really loves to eat. Although he’s a rather large dog, he has rather small teeth, so he doesn’t like anything too chewy or tough (unlike Toby, who loves to chew).”
Customers and their dogs provide a wealth of information too. “Most of our products were conceptualised based off their feedback and their dogs’ needs,” Ann Marie relates.
“For example, there are plenty of dogs with liver and kidney issues that need treats with a lower protein content, hence the Turkey Jerky and the vegan Pumpkin Delight. That’s mainly why we have a large selection of treats that we make ourselves. We hope to always have something for any dog, regardless of preference or health condition.”
What’s for dessert?
Their treats certainly get the dogs’ stamp of approval, but so do their cakes and pies, which the store is also well known for. :)
Are you thinking of serving your dogs either or both? If it’s their first time, Ann Marie suggests the following:
#1 Serve a small portion first for them to try
“Dogs have a really short digestive tract, so they can be very sensitive to foods that they’ll be trying for the first time. If you give them too much of a new thing, they may get a tummy ache regardless of how good the ingredients are.”
#2 Warm up the cake or pie before serving
“If you warm it up, the aroma of the food becomes much more pronounced. For dogs it’s not so much how things taste, as their taste buds are located way at the back of the tongue; for them, smell is much more important, so it’s good to enhance the aroma of the food to maximise their enjoyment.”
(Speaking of cakes and pies, a side note: If you’re thinking of giving your dog a party, Ann Marie advises choosing a big outdoor space. It can help reduce the possibility of the dogs getting stressed and overwhelmed.)
Still, if you want something reliable, you can’t underestimate the power of a treat. “Treats are something you give your dog on a regular basis, so if you give them healthy treats made from all-natural, whole food ingredients, it would do them much good compared to just an occasional cake or pie as a treat,” Ann Marie observes.
Need a recommendation? The Barkery Singapore’s best-seller is the Bark-Kwa (Pork). :)
Made with love
But wait: You might want to discover and add other things to your cart before you go. The Barkery Singapore also has products we can buy for animal shelters, which they can deliver straight to the shelters.
And they plan to add more items to the list. “This year, instead of the usual meatloaves, we are going to be offering up a great collection of supplements and treats,” Ann Marie declares. “Details will be up super soon on our website and social media pages.” So watch out for it. :)
The Barkery Singapore is at 326 Joo Chiat Road, Singapore 427583; tel: +65 6247 7321; text: +65 9155 6290; email@example.com.
What we can learn from Ann Marie and The Barkery Singapore
The Barkery Singapore has been around for almost eight years, so I asked Ann Marie to share her experiences here to encourage us in our own journeys. I think it’s the people behind the business that make it meaningful and successful. :) There’s a lot to gain from their perspective and expertise. You’ll also find out more from Ann Marie about what it means to be involved in causes that focus on dogs.
#1 Respect for dogs
“Too often, we see owners forcing stressful or unnatural modes of behaviour or expectations on their dogs, and that really causes damage in the long run. Dogs are not humans (although we love them as our children), and they need to be communicated with in a way that they understand. Once that is ironed out, you generally see a lot of improvement in terms of health and behaviour.
“Nowadays you see a lot of articles and literature about how dog ownership has evolved to the point where dogs are being treated as part of the family like never before. That’s great, because new pet owners are really making the effort to give their dogs the best life they can. But many people don’t quite get that a dog’s needs and a human’s perception of their needs can be very, very different. It’s imperative that owners educate themselves, and do as much reading and research as possible, to ensure that we are making the best decisions for our pets.”
#2 Patience in business
“We were all completely inexperienced in business when we started this company, and The Barkery was and remains a family business – so that added another dimension of pros and cons as well. Many entrepreneurs are under the impression that you just need a unicorn idea and execute it; you’ll be on your way to becoming super successful; and the focus is very much on the image and branding and stuff like that. But it’s really more about staying in the long term. It’s about adapting your beliefs and ideas to the world around you as you become more and more exposed and experienced with regards to your customers and their needs.
“The most important thing is to always remain true to your ideals (like providing the best service, making the best products, and so on), but also to remain flexible in terms of execution. This ability only comes with patience because you need time to refine and articulate your ideals, as well as time to try and test your methods of execution.”
#3 We have it in us to act and do the right thing
“With animals, you can really see them bring out the best in people, especially the people who rescue, rehabilitate, and rehome dogs and cats – the stray feeders and shelter volunteers who sacrifice countless hours and dollars to make life better for these voiceless animals.
“I think this is especially true in Singapore, where people can get so caught up in their own lives and our hyper-urbanised space that we forget that nature and her creatures have a place too. Although they may not seem mighty or splendid to our eyes, they deserve respect. And this insight would not have occurred to us without this business, because we’ve had the privilege of meeting so many individuals who contribute to animal welfare in Singapore, and we get to see firsthand the joy they bring and the incredible difference they make.”
#4 Share your knowledge
“I think in Singapore the most important and fundamental need with regards to making a difference in animal welfare is education. Many people still don’t know about the basic needs of their pets, or how to properly train and raise them. We hope to do our part in helping people understand more about their pets, because we get a lot of information from all our customers about the various issues they experience and how they deal with them.
“A lot of people also don't know how best they can contribute to animal welfare in Singapore, so I think we can all play a much bigger part in increasing awareness and spreading knowledge about responsible pet ownership and the value of animal welfare.”
#5 Teamwork makes the dream work
“There was one time, after participating in an adoption drive, when we were having a drink with the organisers and just kicking back. Suddenly one of them gets an urgent call about someone dumping puppies somewhere. We all sped off to the location to try and rescue the puppies. It was in a rather rural location, so we had to do a bit of hiking to get there; and when we did, the puppies were hiding underneath a small house. We all took turns getting on our bellies and crawling to try to grab them with our hands. It was incredible. We helped rescue a tiny brother and sister, and they were adopted soon after.”
#6 It's all worth it
“There was an elderly Golden Retriever that was nearing the end of his life. He had cancer so he didn’t have a good appetite at all. His owners would drive all the way to our shop to get food for him, because the only thing he’d eat was our Muttballs. So often we’d just warm them up for him at our shop, and he’d eat it then and there.
“There was one time when they had to carry him with them, and carry him into our shop, just so he would eat, because he couldn’t walk anymore. It was so sad, but it was just also so wonderful to see how much they loved him.”
Another precious memory? “We adopted two of our three dogs (Sasha and Micah) through events and people we met through running The Barkery,” Ann Marie recalls. Here’s to making more amazing memories (and dog treats!) then. :)