Glyndon couple turns loss of beloved pet into 'Dachshing' business
GLYNDON, Minn. — "He can get a little sassy. He thinks he's a big dog sometimes," says Val Anderson as she snuggles with Ash, her Jack Russell terrier and dachshund mix.
Despite being born without a radius bone in his left arm, Ash holds his own with the other five dogs in the Anderson home in Glyndon, Minn.
In fact, Anderson says the handicap might be the reason his back legs are so highly muscled, which today is proving beneficial as he stands upright begging for treats and posing for pictures.
Ash is one of the main reasons Anderson and wife Jaime will spend the next few days in the hot sun of the Downtown Fargo Street Fair helping fellow dog lovers "perk up their pet's personality."
The Andersons run Dachshing Dog Bakery and Pawtique which offers "unique handmade gifts for pets and their people," Anderson says. Their inventory includes home-baked dog treats and fashionable pet apparel and accessories, including colorful collars, leashes, bandanas and more. If dogs ever appeared on the cover of "Vogue" they'd probably be wearing something from the Andersons.
Some of the profit from the business helps pay for Ash's medical treatments which include visits to a chiropractor and acupuncturist every six to eight weeks. They also donate money to area animal rescue or shelter organizations. (This year's recipient is Gemini Rottweiler and Pitbull Rescue in Madison, Minn.)
While Ash is the current inspiration for the business, another dog is responsible for its creation. Anderson says in 2010, her mother's dachshund "London" (nicknamed "Bun" because he hopped around like a bunny) died from complications after being attacked by a neighbor's dog.
"He was such a sweet dog — my mom's whole world. We wanted something positive to come out of what happened to him," Anderson says. "What could we do to pay homage to this little 12-pound dog that meant so much to my mom and me?"
They decided to sell homemade dog treats and give some of the money back to animal charities. Their new business featured a logo of a dachshund with angel wings in honor of London.
Over the last seven years, they started to add to their inventory which now not only includes the treats, apparel and accessories for dogs and cats, but T-shirts and home decor for people. They also design and make customizable items for pets. All of it is handcrafted in the spare time the Andersons have from their day jobs. (Val is a technical writer and Jaime works at an architecture firm.)
"I always say a small business never sleeps. Yes, it's a hobby and we enjoy it, but it's a lot of work," Anderson says. "We craft in front of the TV, we'll sit outside and make collar flowers and on lunch break work on vinyl decals."
Anderson says the business gives something back to them as well: it allows them to combine their passion for creativity and animals. Jaime grew up on a farm and Val wavered between a career as a veterinarian or a writer. While she chose to be a professional writer, Anderson says animals dominate her life from the business she runs to the six dogs she and Jaime share (in addition to Ash, they have another dog with special needs — a golden retriever who is both deaf and blind). But their love of animals extends beyond the dogs they own.
"Over the last two-year period we've been foster parents to 18 dogs and four kittens, but then I found out I was allergic to cats," Anderson says, laughing.
This is their fourth Downtown Fargo Street Fair — an event Anderson says she enjoys not only because of the money they can raise for Ash's medical bills and the animal charities — but because she gets to hear people talk about the animals they love. Anderson says one story in particular stands out. A woman had bought a belly band for her incontinent dog who was having accidents in the house. She told the Andersons that putting the belly band on her dog took care of the problem.
"She said it literally saved his life," Anderson says. "We felt like we really helped her. That's pretty rewarding."