Making the healthiest dog treats with only natural ingredients is the focus of one young boy and his family after launching REL (pronounced Real) Dog Treats.
What initially started as a way for six-year-old Emmett Henderson to make some money to buy a dirt bike has turned into an already growing business that he runs with his mom Melissa and two younger brothers, Lincoln and Rowan.
REL – named by Emmett using the first initial of each brother’s name – was officially open for business when Emmett’s mother posted the treats for sale on Facebook about two weeks ago. Melissa Henderson says she expected orders for maybe 15 to 20 bags when she first posted. Instead, there was a wave of excitement, with the family fulfilling orders for 373 bags as of last week.
“He wanted to get a dirt bike, and I asked him, ‘well, how could we make money for you to buy your own dirt bike?’ He was brainstorming some ideas of what he could sell to come up with some money,” said Henderson of Emmett’s reason for starting REL. “We’re just trying to fill the initial orders right now as we have over 373 orders for bags.
“We live in Alma and I grew up in Elmira, so I thought we’d get a few people like my friends that are still living Elmira. [Just the] local family friends that have dogs and some cousins and uncles and aunts. But when I posted it, I was overwhelmed with the amount of orders in the first day – we received about 350 bag orders.”
Made and packaged at home by Emmett, his brothers and their mom, the recipe for the peanut butter-flavoured cookies consists of only the best ingredients, creating a healthy treat, said Henderson, pointing to the all-natural peanut butter, ripe bananas and oats. She says eventually, she would like to look into using flax seed and whole wheat flour.
Currently REL only offers peanut butter treats that come in packs of 25 for $5. This, however, will not be the case as of May 1, when they will switch to packaging by weight, with bags of 250 or 500 grams.
Looking towards the future of the business, Henderson says she sees the possibility of expanding it into a full-time venture, one that might allow her to stay home with the boys.
“I am actually a full-time paramedic – I am just on leave right now. So, if this business grows to what it has started off, it looks like I could stay at home with my children and run a business and have my own hours. Although I love doing [the work of] paramedics – I would probably still work part time as a paramedic – but my full-time job could be trying to run this business. And I’ve had some family members say that they would, if it grows really great, that they would quit their job and help us,” she said.
She also says there is opportunity to get their treats in local pet stores in Elmira and Alma.
For Emmett, he hopes to be able to turn the business into something really successful so he can buy things for his brothers. Henderson says he is already crafting up new treat flavour ideas and without giving too much away, she says the next ones “won’t involve peanut butter.”
To purchase a bag of treats, Henderson and the boys of REL can be contacted through email at firstname.lastname@example.org, through facebook.com/RELDOGTREATS, or by phone 519-588-7983 (call or text).