Maren Gilsrud is baking up a waggin' good selection of dog treats for her new business, Waggy Butt Dog Treats.
Maren Gilsrud is baking up a waggin' good selection of dog treats for her new business, Waggy Butt Dog Treats.
Ramona's wagging tail is not only the inspiration for Maren Gilsrud's home-based business, but also provides quality control as the wag from the chief taste tester signals another successful variety of Waggy Butt dog treats is ready to go on the market.

"It started when we got Ramona. She was itching a lot, and we realized she has allergies, so I started making her homemade treats," said Wykoff resident Gilsrud, speaking of her dog and the homemade snacks she's baked that make Ramona, well, wag her whole butt.

Given that Ramona "just loves them and won't eat MilkBones anymore," Gilsrud thought she might give selling them a chance. "I don't have to go out and buy her treats...it only takes an hour to make them. This spring, my aunt was here with a dog that travels with her, and her dog liked them so much that she said I should try selling them, and I thought on it for a couple of months, then decided that I could try it."

Gilsrud had tired of a job in retail at that point and determined that if she could bake up success in five different flavors - Beggin' for More Banana, Barkin' at the Mailman Blueberry, Poutin' for Peanut Butter, Cute as a Button Carrot and Sassy & Silly Sardine - as well as offering sweet potato chips for canine consumers on Etsy, eBay and Facebook, she'd give it her best.

"There's not one I make that Ramona doesn't like," said Gilsrud. "She watches me bag them up to sell and looks at me like, 'What are you doing with my treats?'" And watching Ramona's waggy rear flail in excitement at the prospect of having another treat, she chose the name Waggy Butt for the temptations she created.

Gilsrud noted that everything she uses is natural, including eggshells, pumpkin, oat flour, eggs, olive oil and molasses. They have no preservatives, so they have to be refrigerated or frozen. The treats are made from natural ingredients that do double duty.

"There are a lot of ingredients that are joint-friendly - I used to spray salmon oil on Ramona's food because it's good for her joints, but I realized that olive oil is a lot less expensive and does the same thing, just like eggshells and flax seed," said Gilsrud. "I made her food for a while, and even though that got old, I learned what to use and what she liked. She's my taste tester."

Having developed the Waggy Butt dog treat flavors, Gilsrud then created them in two sizes - Waggy Mini Butt snacks for smaller dogs and Waggy Big Butt treats for larger dogs, treats big enough to be broken into pieces that satisfy any excitable pooch.

"The smaller ones work great as training treats, and the bigger ones can be broken into bits...I like to remind people that these are treats, not food, so that they don't end up with a chubby dog," she added.

She'd like her dog treats to become the rewards of choice in canine-owned households across the state, so she's working to make them visible on all three websites on which they're posted. They'll be featured as part of a homemade sampler box sold on Etsy in January, February, two in March and more in April and July. She is also considering selling at farmers' markets, such as the Wabasha market to which she's applied for a booth.

Gilsrud admitted that the venture into cat treat bakery wasn't as successful as she'd anticipated and that Ramona voted a tails-down to the tuna, but that she's given that thought as a project to revisit in the future. For now, Gilsrud's chosen to stick with what Ramona loves best - Barkin' at the Mailman Blueberry and Poutin' for Peanut Butter and waggin' her butt for more - as the lovin' comes out of Gilsrud's oven.

To order Waggy Butt dog treats, search Etsy and eBay using Waggy Butt or waggybutt1973@gmail.com, or find Waggy Butt on Facebook. For more information, email Gilsrud at mareng12@yahoo.com or call (507) 352-4542.