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Brown Paw Bakery churning out all-natural dog treats

  • Jennifer Krochmal sits for a portrait with her chocolate lab Reah at her home in Chichester on Sunday, March 9, 2014.  Krochmal started the bakery in December and runs it out of her home.  The dog treats come in two varieties, peanut butter and low-fat, wheat-free apple.<br/><br/>(ARIANA van den AKKER / Monitor staff)

    Jennifer Krochmal sits for a portrait with her chocolate lab Reah at her home in Chichester on Sunday, March 9, 2014. Krochmal started the bakery in December and runs it out of her home. The dog treats come in two varieties, peanut butter and low-fat, wheat-free apple.

    (ARIANA van den AKKER / Monitor staff)

  • Jennifer Krochmal makes dog biscuits at her home in Chichester on Sunday, March 9, 2014.  Krochmal started the bakery in December and runs it out of her home.  The dog treats come in two varieties, peanut butter and low-fat, wheat-free apple.<br/><br/>(ARIANA van den AKKER / Monitor staff)

    Jennifer Krochmal makes dog biscuits at her home in Chichester on Sunday, March 9, 2014. Krochmal started the bakery in December and runs it out of her home. The dog treats come in two varieties, peanut butter and low-fat, wheat-free apple.

    (ARIANA van den AKKER / Monitor staff)

  • Jennifer Krochmal's homemade dog treats at her home in Chichester on Sunday, March 9, 2014.  Krochmal started the bakery in December and runs it out of her home.  The dog treats come in two varieties, peanut butter and low-fat, wheat-free apple.<br/><br/>(ARIANA van den AKKER / Monitor staff)

    Jennifer Krochmal's homemade dog treats at her home in Chichester on Sunday, March 9, 2014. Krochmal started the bakery in December and runs it out of her home. The dog treats come in two varieties, peanut butter and low-fat, wheat-free apple.

    (ARIANA van den AKKER / Monitor staff)

  • Jennifer Krochmal rolls out dough for dog biscuits as her chocolate lab Reah supervises at their home in Chichester on Sunday, March 9, 2014.  Krochmal started the bakery in December and runs it out of her home.  The dog treats come in two varieties, peanut butter and low-fat, wheat-free apple.<br/><br/>(ARIANA van den AKKER / Monitor staff)

    Jennifer Krochmal rolls out dough for dog biscuits as her chocolate lab Reah supervises at their home in Chichester on Sunday, March 9, 2014. Krochmal started the bakery in December and runs it out of her home. The dog treats come in two varieties, peanut butter and low-fat, wheat-free apple.

    (ARIANA van den AKKER / Monitor staff)

  • Jennifer Krochmal sits for a portrait with her chocolate lab Reah at her home in Chichester on Sunday, March 9, 2014.  Krochmal started the bakery in December and runs it out of her home.  The dog treats come in two varieties, peanut butter and low-fat, wheat-free apple.<br/><br/>(ARIANA van den AKKER / Monitor staff)
  • Jennifer Krochmal makes dog biscuits at her home in Chichester on Sunday, March 9, 2014.  Krochmal started the bakery in December and runs it out of her home.  The dog treats come in two varieties, peanut butter and low-fat, wheat-free apple.<br/><br/>(ARIANA van den AKKER / Monitor staff)
  • Jennifer Krochmal's homemade dog treats at her home in Chichester on Sunday, March 9, 2014.  Krochmal started the bakery in December and runs it out of her home.  The dog treats come in two varieties, peanut butter and low-fat, wheat-free apple.<br/><br/>(ARIANA van den AKKER / Monitor staff)
  • Jennifer Krochmal rolls out dough for dog biscuits as her chocolate lab Reah supervises at their home in Chichester on Sunday, March 9, 2014.  Krochmal started the bakery in December and runs it out of her home.  The dog treats come in two varieties, peanut butter and low-fat, wheat-free apple.<br/><br/>(ARIANA van den AKKER / Monitor staff)

Reah is a good dog.

Her tail thumps against the stone floor. A pink tongue stretches across her nose. She sits, watching the dog treats on the kitchen counter with perfect attention. Her nose quivers, but she doesn’t make that move.

The delicately decorated pink and yellow butterfly-shaped dog cookie remains untouched. For now.

Dozens of such dog cookies are made before Reah every day in her owners’ Chichester kitchen that has doubled as the Brown Paw Bakery for the last three months. The husband and wife team started making the all-natural treats partly in response to news reports about deadly dog treats, and partly because Jennifer Krochmal cannot work because of an injury.

Amid all the cooking for other dogs, Reah is not forgotten. She may not get the prettiest of treats, but she does get treats.

“I give her the leftover bits,” Krochmal says, smiling at the dog, who is far from plump.

Reah gets a regular helping of the unshapely leftovers that remain when all the fire hydrants, squirrels, bones or cats are cut from the hand-rolled dough. The Krochmals make pounds of dog cookies a day, and an occasional dog birthday cake. That’s a lot of bits for Reah.

While Brown Paw Bakery may be an official limited liability corporation as of Dec. 31, the Krochmals say they haven’t quite made it into the black yet. What money they’ve made from selling their dog biscuits and cakes online and in a few Concord stores has gone back into the business. On Friday, the couple purchased a new oven and placed it in the family’s attached garage. Eric Krochmal plans to turn it into an official bakery for his wife, although he helps out often.

Some of their revenue has gone into the ingredient testing and paperwork needed to make their treats something dog owners can trust. The biscuits are analyzed by a company in New Jersey and the results are filed with the state Department of Agriculture so a breakdown of ingredients can be listed on every bag.

Customers appreciate knowing what

is in the treats they are giving their dogs, said Jennifer Batchelder, owner of A Furry Affair in Concord. Bags of Brown Paw Bakery treats in flavors of apple and peanut butter sit on a cake stand on the counter at her grooming shop on Sheep Davis Road.

“The biggest appeal is that it is a local business,” Batchelder said.

At least, that’s the biggest appeal for the people who pay $4.25 per quarter-pound or $7.25 per half-pound for the bag of treats. Dogs may have another reason.

“They’re good. (Dogs) love them,” Batchelder said. “I have one client who comes in every week because her dog likes them so much.”

Jennifer Krochmal said one customer actually tasted the treats. Her face scrunches a bit at the memory.

“There’s nothing in them that a person can’t eat,” she said. “But they are dog treats,” she added, laughing.

If someone wants to try them at next month’s Made in New Hampshire Expo in Manchester, Krochmal said jokingly that the couple is ready with samples as well as neatly-wrapped single dog treats available for $1.

“The theme is, ‘Try before you buy.’ I’m not sure how that will work,” she said.

The expo worries Krochmal a little. Despite having pounds of gourmet dog treats on chairs and couches throughout their home, she said the more people who hear about their products, the more inquiries they receive, and the more she needs to produce.

The new oven might help. The Krochmals hope it will reduce the time it takes to dry the treats from two hours to one – right now, the treats take one hour to bake and two hours to dry out. The dehydrating on low heat replaces the need for preservatives in the dog biscuits, which stay good for up to a year, the Krochmals said.

Getting the Brown Paw Bakery up and running has taken the help of their family. Jennifer Krochmal’s mother has proved a speedy and expert decorator who can pretty up a batch of dog cookies in about a half-hour.

Her father has helped as well, through a friend who gave the Brown Paw Bakery’s web page some extra oomph and their products’ packaging just the right image, Krochmal said.

“We get a lot of compliments,” she said of the packaging, which has simple, delicately penned labels on plain, high-quality brown paper bags.

“We make everything by hand here. I wanted that small-bakery feel,” she said.

And this is a small bakery. Two of the Krochmals’ children wander in and out of the kitchen Friday to see what’s new. Jennifer Krochmal laughs when she remembers the time the children ate a handful of what they thought were chocolate chips, but were the yogurt-flavored chips that are mixed with cream cheese to make icing for cakes and cookies.

Krochmal said she even snuck one of her peanut butter dog cakes to the kids. The reviews were mixed.

“They said, ‘Is this a dog cake? Mom!’ ” Krochmal said.

Mason, 9, went ahead and ate the cake.

“It wasn’t that bad,” Mason said.

Mason’s sister, 6-year-old Ella, wrinkles her nose at the memory, then smiles.

“I ate the icing. I asked my dad to put some sugar on it,” Ella said.

But no sugar will be found in a Brown Paw Bakery cake. Nor in any of the treats made here for dogs, except for a few sprinkles placed atop an extra-special cookie now and then, Eric Krochmal said.

Jennifer Krochmal shares her daughter’s tastes and said she finds the treats pretty dry and the cakes a bit dense, but, hey, they are for the dogs.

While the Krochmals say they aren’t the first in the area to sell homemade dog treats, they do believe they are the first to offer dog cakes. When news of the cakes hit Facebook, the response was quick and positive, Eric Krochmal said.

“We had four or five calls the first day,” he said.

Eric Krochmal won’t be quitting his day job as an in-flight nurse on a helicopter for Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center to work full time in the bakery, but he said he is proud of his wife for trying to make a positive out of a bad health situation.

Jennifer Krochmal was injured last June when her husband’s glue gun fell on her foot, damaging the nerves. She tried to continue working as a nursing assistant for doctors performing C-sections at Concord Hospital, but the pain in her foot never subsided. She misses working with newborns and their families, she said.

But out of that injury came Brown Paw Bakery. She started making the peanut butter dog treats in 2007 for her dogs and dogs of family members, but, with five children and a career, she never had the time to make baking dog treats a business. Her foot does slow down her baking time, she said, but being at home allows her to take breaks when needed.

The final incentive to move forward was last year’s news reports about dogs dying after consuming treats made in China. Eric Krochmal said they felt the time was right for them to start making treats dog owners could trust to give to their pets.

“We started talking about it and got such a positive response from everybody we talked to that we decided to go ahead and do it,” he said.

And that’s just fine with Reah, who shares the house with four cats that Jennifer Krochmal said she hasn’t yet made a treat to satisfy. She will keep trying.

Eric Krochmal said he is happy the couple can provide dog owners with treats that are healthy for their pets.

“We don’t go crazy with their food,” he said, “but I do think it’s important that they eat well.”

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