Posted 54d ago
Bella was sick as a pup after eating shop bought food. Celia McDonald
It’s not uncommon in this day and age for people to have muses - Beyoncé is Jay-Z’s and Kim is Kanye’s, but in dog world, Bella is Celia’s.
Celia McDonald is a loving mum to Bella and was even inspired to start her own baking business after Bella fell ill from shop bought food.
Now, the business, For Dogs Sake Treats, is a huge success and loved by the local dog community, so much so that it was shortlisted in the final six for Best Small Business Liverpool Lifestyle Awards.
Celia says her dog started to vomit blood and had to be taken to an emergency out of hours vets when she was 18-months-old.
She had to stay in for several days and after multiple tests, they found out she had Irritable Bowel Disorder.
The 53-year-old told TeamDogs: “After several tests they came back saying she had IBD. As well as medication, they suggested trying grain free and sensitive dog food.
"We felt desperate and tried so many types, but through research and recommendation none made her better, the cost factor went completely out of the window.”
Later she learned from the vet it was something in the shop bought food that continued to make Bella sick.
The process to find out what exactly was a long and expensive route to take.
Instead, the former rehabilitation officer for the blind decided to take matters into her own hands and make her own raw diet food.
Having already created her own liver cake recipe before to meet Bella’s needs as a pup, she knew she was capable of doing it once again.
Once word got out about Bella’s illness, members of the local dog community reached out to Celia to explain they were having similar problems with their own dogs – from stomach problems to picky eaters.
Celia, who was a fully qualified architect for seven years, added: “They just wanted to give their dogs something that was healthier and that they knew exactly what was in it.
“So, I never actually made the decision to start a business, I was still getting over the death of my brother and found it difficult to motivate myself to do new research after my previous project finished.
“But so many people were asking me for treats and then dog cakes I had to start charging. Then folk asked if I was on Facebook or had a website.
“I got so much incredible encouragement from other dog owners who were big fans of my products.”
Celia and Bella enjoying a walk together. Celia McDonald
Now, Celia’s steak and kidney, peanut butter and fish cakes are all in high demand so much so that she sells out on pre orders on Christmas packages before Halloween has even happened.
Made with fresh ingredients, zero artificial colouring, flavouring or preservatives, they are available for delivery or collection across Merseyside.
Celia also delivers some of her treats, including her popular sardine oatcakes and carrot and coconut thins, to local dog friendly cafes.
Bella was welcomed into Celia’s family when she was a puppy.
Initially, they were looking for a cross between a Newfoundland and a poodle as these types of dogs are said to be less at risk of causing a human allergic reaction, something that needed to be taken into consideration as Celia’s son is asthmatic.
However, when they came across Bella, they “just fell in love with her.”
Celia said: “Her personality has changed as she has grown up. As a pup she was very playful with other dogs. But now she prefers humans to dogs and is extremely possessive and protective of us.
“She appears and behaves like butter wouldn’t melt but if other dogs are interested in me she will give them a good barking and chase them off. But she’s all talk and no trousers.
“When she stayed with my dog sitter who had an old blind and deaf dog, Bella would let the old dog walk all over her and guide her gently away from any obstacles.
“She’s also very sensitive to our emotions. I had a few traumatic events in my life including the unexpected sudden death of my brother and Bella helped the whole family through these awful times.
“Now I can’t rub my eyes without her coming straight to me and nuzzling me and cuddling up to me. She loves humans, lots of fussing, and sniffing out stuff, especially food.”
Celia explained how much of a privilege it is to be asked to make something for others dogs as she realises how special Bella is to her and that’s why all her products are customer led.
However, during lockdown her business almost completely stopped but Celia managed to take advantage of her free time by taking stock, being more active on her social media with Bella and even registering with trading standards.
Now that restrictions have eased, she hopes to get back to selling at market stalls.
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