Barking Blondes: Doggy ice cream, pawfiteroles and pooch gadgets

Joanne Good and Anna Webb

barking blondes1 300x225 Barking Blondes: Doggy ice cream, pawfiteroles and pooch gadgets“Absolutely ridiculous,” said Duncan Bannatyne on this week’s Dragons’ Den, when entrepreneur, Marie Sawle pitched her Doggy ice cream and ice treat products. Retailing at around £2.99 a tub (more than many human brands) she was looking for an investment of £60,000.

Whilst the male dragons sat with incredulous looks on their faces, Hilary Devey and Deborah Meaden immediately spotted the potential and both offered to invest the full amount.

Meaden is the proud owner of two Hungarian Vizlas, which may have helped her to understand the appeal of healthy, iced doggy treats. She agreed to invest for a return of 40% of the business and won the deal.

Our dogs Molly and Matilda were fortunate enough to enjoy the product, earlier in the year, when it was leaping off the stall at Crufts. It is a healthy option treat with raw ingredients such as carrot, strawberry and bananas. In fact, we shared a tub with them, with love for your dog having no bounds. Plus, it was a hot day.

Every week, on our radio show, we have an item, unimaginatively called “Entrepreneur of the week”. Most of them will be the creators of a new brand of dog treat. Nearly all of them are surviving and occasionally flourishing as this niche market expands, in what for most, are difficult times.

Visit Harrods pet department any day of the week and there are queues for doggy cupcakes and delicacies, such as fresh “pawfiteroles”. And in Miami, okay it’s got the climate, but doggy ice cream is selling as much as human brands. Dogs have never been bigger business! The ‘pet’ industry is one of the fastest growing sectors, and during the recession, big national retailers have seen a steady growth of seven per cent year on year, making the market in the UK estimated to be valued at over four billion pounds.

Whilst we are spending less on ourselves, we are spending more on our dogs. Could this steady growth be attributed to plain old retail therapy and our guilt about spending money on ourselves being lessened if we splash out on the dog?

On average a dog owner will buy their dog a weekly gift costing £10.00 or more! With 27% of all UK households owning at least one dog, it’s easy to work out the maths and see why the market is growing and growing. On Monday, we took part in a new series for Channel 4, hosted by Stephen Fry called Gadget Man.

It investigates this canine boom, by dedicating an entire episode to doggy gadgets. The range of products that are now available for dogs include light up (LED) collars, to GPS (Sat Nav) collars, bluetooth-operated temperature gauges, even APPs for dogs and their owners. All of this shows that ‘innovation’ for dogs is almost as big as it is for children.

Finally, would you trust an MP who is a dog owner more than one who’s not? Well to find out just how many fido-loving politicians there are in Westminster, pop along on Thursday to Victoria Tower Gardens for The Westminster Dog Of The year. Twenty-four MPs will be battling it out and showing off their loyal four-legged friends by demonstrating the part they play on the political trail.

If you go onto The Kennel Club website you can see if your MP is involved and offer up your vote as well as discovering their chosen names for their pets. One constituency is represented by a dog named Boris and another called Gordon. Interesting eh? Woof! Woof!

‘Barking at the Moon’ is on every Thursday from 10pm to midnight on BBC London 94.9FM

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  • stonedwolf

    Agreed. My dog’s treat was a bone from the butcher to gnaw on. Not freaking ice cream.

  • Peter Egan

    Hi Jo’, Anna, Matilda and Molly,
    Sorry a late post today. You know how mad I am about animals of all kinds and dogs in particular. Next to humans dogs are the greatest living thing put on this earth. They have extraordinary powers of perception, communication and compassion. There are many who misjudge these great qualities and catergorize them as shit smellers who love killing things. Dogs in my experience communicate and interrelate in the most fantastic way through smell. I’ve never yet me a dog who loves killing things. Sadly the same can’t be said of humankind, who are the only species on this planet who choose to kill all the other species on this planet for fun or for food.
    What confuses me about the obsession with doggie treats, is that there is a huge compulsion to dress up the pet but also a huge denial that this pet is the most abused creature on the planet. If all the pet product producers also advertised, at the same time as plugging their product, that 2000,000 dogs a year are killed for the dinner plate in Asia, that around 130,000 a year are abandoned in England alone and probably 40-50,000 are euthanized each year because they are dumped by careless human beings. It might go some way to help the amazing charities who work tirelessly to save as many of these creatures as they can. All of these entrepreneurs should commit a huge slice from the profit of their products to animal welfare and education.

    They should be plugging the importance of commitment to their pet by micro-chipping, neutering and vaccinating as well as selling toys.

    Love and woofs

    Peter (-:)

  • Peter Egan

    Hi All,

    I wrote a response to this which seems to have been eaten by a censor. Basically my point was that all those who advertise and sell pet products, should donate a portion of their profits to animal charities, to help educate people in relation to the appalling abuse suffered by all animals on this planet by humans. Humans have chosen to use all other species for fun or food and particularly dogs. 2000,000 are killed a year for the table in Asia. 150,000 are abandoned in England alone each year and probably 40-50,000 are euthanised because careless human beings dump them. Most owners want to indulge their pets without facing the reality of a dogs life in England.

    love and woofs,


  • MrReasons2BCheerful

    Nah… doggie ice cream? Doesn’t really wash. It’s about as natural as cashmere knits for pooches. Some things are just not right! A bit like dressing dogs up in ladybird costumes (Sorry Anna!) or making a bull breed wear a tu-tu!!
    The only treat Bruno gets is a chunk of smoked salmon and that’s ONLY when he’s earned it!

  • April

    Hello Joanne, what a great idea Jo, my grand daughter Casey has a one year old Border Collie (Lucy) whom she adores and every weekend spends her pocket money on dog treats – I know Lucy will definitely be tasting the new ‘doggy ice cream’. We both listen to your show every Thursday evening and I listen in every night (one of your many ’silent listeners ‘). Woof woof Jo…………………. April x

  • Zzarzax

    You think politics is rough, those MPs will do pretty much anything for their dog to be named Westminster Dog of the Year. lol.

  • GwendolenMeiMeiWilliams

    It would be a nice thing to do, I agree, and I deplore the irresponsibility of “dog for xmas” types, but shouldn’t then makers of childrens toys, clothes, foods, medicines etc. donate a portion of their profits to reduce child abuse or prevent some of the deaths- statistically one every 14 seconds- from dehydration, which could be stopped with medication worth 7p?

  • GwendolenMeiMeiWilliams

    The only species that kills others for food/fun? Anyone who has watched lions on TV, owned a cat, or seen a chicken coop after a fox has been in there would disagree on both those points!

    Also, whilst I wouldn’t want to eat dog, I don’t think we can berate asians for eating dogs, when many in the west happily eat pigs- just as intelligent and affectionate as dogs.

  • English_Wolf

    And those who build houses or rent them should also pay for the homeless…

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