By Janae Easlon
The Bellingham Business Journal
Imagine your dogs are the valuable employees within your company.
Katya Szirom is a self-proclaimed dog lover. She, along with her mother, started Two Terriers, a Bellingham-based dog product company operating out of the Szirom’s home. Their dogs — Kali, Riley, Rupert and Cinnamon — have first access to trying their handmade dog food, shampoo and treats, Szirom said.
Their dogs hold titles at the company such as “chief barker officer” and “director of compassion.”
Szirom’s dog Cinnamon, a Shi-Tzu, is listed on the Two Terriers’ website as “director of treats.”
Szirom is a Western Washington University graduate.
“We first had the idea to start Two Terriers in June of 2014,” Szirom said. “Since then, we’ve been researching about dog nutrition and what we needed to do to get started as a new business, registering for business licenses, testing our products and preparing everything else we needed to get going.”
Their products first appeared on store shelves when Whole Foods in Bellingham opened on May 11. Szirom’s mother found out about a meet and greet the grocery store had in order to bring local products on the shelves.
“We wanted to give our dogs pure food, and support local businesses,” Szirom said. “We pride ourselves by only adding what is needed to the product.”
Szirom’s mother said they were only a couple of minutes into their pitch before the representatives of Whole Food asked to carry their product. Currently, the 100-percent-beef dog food can be found at Whole Foods.
“Labels can be deceiving,” Szirom said. “You could have food that says it is from Washington but look closer and find out only the label was added when it was in Washington. Later on, you find out it was actually produced in Taiwan.”
Sourcing where the ingredients come from in products is important to Two Terriers, she said.“We have one supplier — we do not have to look into where all the components of the dog food is coming from because there is only one source.”
All of the beef ingredients come from Yakima, Washington. The ingredients, which include liver, heart and kidney meat, are USDA-approved, Szirom said.
The Sziroms had the food tested at Exact Scientific Services, a laboratory based in Ferndale that checks products for safety.
As soon as they decided to pursue Two Terriers, the mother and daughter began researching dog’s diets. The dog food is made using the method of pressure cooking.
Pressure cooking kills pathogens, disease-carrying bacteria that can be found in meat. It maintains 90 percent or more of the nutrients in food and makes it easier to digest, Szirom said.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration did a study on the health risks of a raw food diet, the alternative to feeding pets canned, cooked or dry food. In 196 samples of various raw pet food, 6 percent of the samples tested positive for salmonella and 13 percent tested positive of listeria. These statistics drive Two Terrier’s mission, Szirom said.
“For people who want to be safe, this is an option to give them added security,” Szirom said. Pet owners who prefer raw food will often buy the meat from grocery stores. Two Terrier’s dog food is intended to be an alternative to that type of raw food diet..
Their for-sale products include dog shampoo made with organic castile soap — a soap made from vegetable oil — and peanut butter biscuits.
The newest product Two Terriers has created is liver candy, pieces of dehydrated beef liver for dogs to snack on.
Currently, the dog food is sold in glass mason jars. One day, Two Terriers would like to create a recycle system. Once a customer is done with one jar, they can bring it back to be refilled.
Two Terriers is planning to expand its shop on Etsy, an online marketplace for handmade items, Szirom said.
The date for the online store opening is to be determined. However, Two Terriers are present as a vendor at events such as the upcoming Dog Days of Summer at Lake Padden Park on Sunday, Aug. 21. To learn more, visit Two Terriers at http://www.twoterriersinc.com/.