By Michelle Troutman
Special to The Weekly
Pets make great companions, and for some of us, they are like children. If you’re searching for something Fido will find fetching, LED dog collars, nontoxic toys and biscuits made of natural ingredients are among the offerings at For Dogs Boutique in Holden.
The store specializes in pure, eco-friendly and allergen-free pet products manufactured in America, including some made in Maine. Fans of felines will find plenty of cat food, treats and toys.
Anna Perna teamed up with Diane and Christy Cunningham to start the business.
“We decided that we would open a store that would not compete with the big box stores, and that would sell products we would buy for our animals,” said Perna.
Along with her business partners, Perna said she has owned and cared for many dogs, and their passion for them makes them want to treat animals like they are family members.
“In our store, it’s all about safety, it’s about health, and it’s about exercise, being interactive and happy with your animal.”
The business promotes local and New England-made dog treats and products such as coats, checkbook covers and towels featuring doggie decor.
Big sellers among dog food brands include Lotus, Orijen and The Honest Kitchen.
“The food we’re selling is unique,” Perna said. “People will drive from Howland to come down to our shop just so they can get a certain kind of treat or type of food for their dogs.”
Perna and the Cunninghams ensure they know where foods and chewable treats are sourced, and prefer brands made in the United States They score food on a scale of zero to five based on how it’s made and the ingredients it contains, and only sell products they score a “four” or a “five.” According to Perna, microfactories produce the food, and if she and her co-owners discover a small business has been sold to a major manufacturer, they will remove the products from their shelves.
“Our brand is about quality,” Perna said. “We don’t want to have to deal with mass-produced foods because there’s liability in that.”
Other natural products they sell are toys free of toxins made of recycled materials designed to help animals think, and connect with their owners.
Among their most popular items are those in their Seasonal Corner: life vests for summer water safety, and during the fall hunting season, blaze orange safety vests, blaze orange and lighted dog collars and lighted leashes.
As one of “four great businesses under one big woof,” For Dogs Boutique shares space with services Paws Down Training, Northern Lights Grooming and Renaissance Dogs Doggie Daycare & Boarding.
“We all carry the same ideas and philosophies, in terms of respect and care for our animals, so that’s why we’re a good team,” Perna said.
“We love that the business has grown in five years. We’ve got a great customer-base. Before, the retail store depended on customers who use grooming, training or doggie daycare. We have a lot of foot traffic now, based on our reputation.”
For Dogs Boutique at 251 Main Road, along Route 1A in Holden is open 9 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 9 a.m.-4 p.m. and on Saturday. For more information, call 989-PAWS (7297) or 989-DOGS (3647).
Find the store on Facebook or visit fordogsboutique.com.