By Kate Ryan
WEST Cork is a dog owner’s dream. Miles of beautiful sandy beaches; forest walks and quiet country roads to walk our beloved companions surely must mean we have some of the happiest dogs in Ireland.
But as well as exercise, nutrition is a vital part of keeping our pets healthy, something that Ballingcollig businesswoman Jacqueline Griffin knows all about.
Jacqueline launched Premium Canine in January. It’s Cork’s first handmade dog food, treat and birthday cake company. You may have seen Jacqueline selling her beautiful handmade doggie treats at Bandon Farmers’ Market on a Saturday.
Perhaps you have looked at the freshly baked treats on display and thought they looked good enough for humans to eat.
And you would be right to wonder.
Jacqueline uses only fresh and healthy ingredients specifically designed to be nutritious as well as tasty, preservative and additive free, using organic and ethically produced ingredients.
Her doggie doughnuts and ‘pupcakes’ can be purchased online, or from her market stall, and she bakes everything fresh the day before.
Jacqueline was inspired to set up the business after completing a course at Ballymaloe Cookery School.
She explained the odd transition to doggie delights: ‘The dream was to set up a dog-friendly café, but it just wasn’t going to work. But I’ve always loved to bake, so I decided instead to make the treats but sell them direct via my website and market stall.’
Bandon Farmers’ Market is a key test bed for her products as she receives instant feedback from customers. ‘When people visit my stall, many have their dogs with them. Treats are bought and eaten then and there, and I can gauge really quickly what is popular with my doggie customers and what isn’t.’
With a background in biomedical science, sales and IT, Jacqueline herself would admit that her career to date has had more than one evolution. But, she says, she feels with Premium Canine she has managed to find something that matches her puppy-love for Charlie, her pug/Jack Russell cross, with her love of food, and is more than ready to make the business a success.
The burgeoning success of her pupcakes (little cupcakes topped with an ‘icing’ made of potato and tapioca) and birthday cakes topped with palm-oil free carob (doggie chocolate), is spurring Jacqueline on to make an even bigger dog’s dinner of her business – literally.
‘We are registered with the Department of Agriculture to manufacture pet food, and now we are working to become registered for handling meat so we can manufacture meaty treats and premium dogs’ dinners,’ she said.
‘Our range will include chicken casserole, beef stew and a liquid gravy all of which can be mixed in with their dried food.’
Soon, not only will our West Cork pooches be better groomed that us humans, but they’ll be eating better than us, too.
Premium Canine will be exhibiting at the Mallow Home & Gardens show in May and Pet Expo at the RDS in September.
Catch her at Ballincollig, Blackrock and Bandon Farmers’ Markets weekly or see www.premiumcanine.ie