By Debra Bell
Of the Weekly Staff
Several years ago when Holden resident Jenny Dwyer’s Australian Shepherd Bandit continually licked off sunscreen applied to his light-colored nose, Dwyer wanted a product that would provide sun protection and would be safe if ingested. She was already making her dogs’ food, so she used her Maine ingenuity and background in skincare to solve a problem.
“I felt guilty that he would lick this chemical off his nose,” Dwyer said.
And when she couldn’t find a product, she set out to create one. Using her knowledge of skincare, she began searching for products to create a safe sunscreen that would be beneficialto the skin.
It was a mixture of shea butter, all natural oils and Maine ingenuity that resulted in the Natural Healing Stick. “It’s good for noses to toes and everywhere in between,” she said.
Then Dwyer started creating a shampoo that would be sulfate-free, friendly to the dogs and the environment.
She shared her creations with friends and family members who encouraged her to start selling the products.
Today, Mutt Nose Best, located at 30 Bomarc Road in Bangor, is a Maine-made company has grooming products in 630 stores in 38 states, including Puerto Rico and Hawaii. The company is in the process of going global. The facility is not a retail location.
“I never, ever would have thought that it would have taken off like this,” Dwyer said. “We made a commitment to small businesses.
“We hand craft every batch here and buy local as much as we can. We also don’t use a distributor so that we can stay in control of where the products go,” she said.
Each product that Mutt Nose Best creates is first tested on humans, namely Dwyer’s husband Doug, who helps with manufacturing the formula’s base. Working in conjunction with a local chemist, the Mutt Nose Best brand is based off of several main bases with additional ingredients, all locally sourced when possible, added during bottling.
And the business’s fun approach to grooming products has gained it notice throughout the country. Some of the company’s products include U Dirty Dog, U Hairy Dog, U Smelly Dog, and U Itchy Dog. These products are complemented by a hand-crafted approach to skin-and-coat care.
Where did the names for the products come from? A mis-spelling of Doug’s name on a birthday cake “Happy Birthday Dog.” Dwyer’s nephew started calling him “U Dog,” and the name fit the businesses concept perfectly.
That approach is part of what separated Mutt Nose Best from the pack.
“It really started with the nose balm,” Dwyer said. Then it moved into developing a special brand for a local groomer. From there, the company blossomed.
“We decided to go to market with it,” she said. “What sets us apart is that we’re from Maine, which represents hard working people and natural products. I know the products better because we use them and I made them for my dogs, so I held them to the highest standards possible. But I didn’t know how to get that across to others.”
That “something” she had searched for came in the form of blueberries.
“I thought about what says ‘Maine,’ and it was wild Maine blueberries,” Dwyer said. “I had just read a study about how Europe is starting to use blueberries in skincare products. It was an ‘aha’ moment.
“At the time there was only one blueberry dog shampoo, and it was only a blueberry fragrance,” Dwyer said. Blueberries are super nutritious and are great topically. Plus, the deep blue pigment brightens whites.
“Bandit’s coat looks so white when he’s been washed. We use wild Maine blueberries. which are scientifically proven to be super nutritious,” she said.
So who are the dogs of Mutt Nose Best? Dwyer’s pack includes 8-year-old Australian Shepherd Bandit, Australian Shepherd Bella and three long-coated dachshund siblings, Sophie, Chloe and Cooper. Mutt Nose Best also has three feline family members.
Dwyer said the business has afforded her an opportunity to continually give back to charitable organizations through the businesses “Paw it Forward” campaign and “Clean Paws for a Cause.”
“We encourage our retailers to have dog wash campaigns,” she said. “Last fall we had one [at Blue Seal in Bangor] where over 100 dogs got washed. Because of that we were able to pay the adoption fees for all of the available dogs at the Bangor Humane Society (about 16 total).”
Dwyer is excited to look ahead at a rapidly expanding business. And her small, but dedicated staff is ready to keep the momentum going.
To learn more about Mutt Nose Best, visit muttnosebest.com or find them on Facebook.