When Dezi Rebelo wanted an iPhone three years ago, her mother Barbi challenged her with the task of buying it herself. Unlike most 10-year-olds, Dezi went for it, ultimately deciding to combine her passion for dogs and her interest in organic food to create Wag and Woof, a self-made dog treat business.
Plus, she got herself that iPhone.
“Whenever my mom and I would go to the store to get treats for our dog, we would read the labels and couldn’t find any ingredients that we know how to pronounce, which I know isn’t good,” says Dezi, who will be 13 at the end of the month. “I wanted to make a healthier treat that would still be delicious for dogs.”
Inspired by a recipe for dog treats found in a cookbook she received for Christmas one year, Dezi set out to tweak it a bit, creating treats that are completely free of chemicals and other preservatives typically found in brand-name pet treats.
Want profiles on NoVA residents making a difference in the community sent directly to your inbox? Subscribe to our weekly newsletters.
Since starting the company, Dezi has made a batch of dog treats nearly every month, featuring a unique flavor each time. Over the years, she has made anything from pumpkin to apple bacon, all taste-tested by her own miniature dachshund.
“I know I’ve made a good batch when my dog comes running into the kitchen while they’re in the oven,” Dezi explains.
Depending on how many order requests she receives online, Dezi will bake anywhere from 50 to 250 treats monthly, all of which are sent out around the 15th of each month. In addition to online sales, Dezi participates in the annual Young Entrepreneur Business Fair in Gainesville, and also regularly sets up a booth at local businesses to sell her product.
According to Barbi, there are about 50 people who regularly purchase Dezi’s treats each month, ranging in location from here in Northern Virginia to Ohio too.
As for which treat Dezi’s miniature dachshund likes the most? Peanut butter bacon, which she continues to bake and refine.
“I am definitely going to keep doing this,” says the soon-to-be teen of her growing, small business. “My favorite part is when I go to local business fairs and see how dogs react. Plus, I love when my dog comes running at the smell.”
Want to purchase this month’s flavor for yourself? Make your inquiry on Wag and Woof’s Facebook page.