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CORONA: Gourmet dog treat ready for its close-up

TERRY PIERSON/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

PE.com: Jackboy’s Dog Bakery owner Athena Yap of Corona with her dog Kernel and some of the many dog treats she makes in Corona, CA. The all natural artisan doggie pastries are good enough to eat but they are made for dogs.

As the founder of Jackboy’s Dog Bakery, Athena Yap has an uncanny talent for thinking outside of the bone.

And thereby hangs a tale of a former aerospace engineer who used to convert fighter planes into drones. These days she transforms dough into doggie delectables for a clientele that includes the T.J. Maxx Corp.

Now Hollywood has come knocking. Eventually, you can catch one of her cookie creations on a new series, tentatively called “Game of Pawns,” or “Pawn in the Game,” that Yap was told would begin later this month on the Discovery Channel. However, a spokeswoman for them, Emily Robinson, wrote in an email that the cable network hasn’t officially announced the show and there’s no definite air date yet.

Since Yap launched Jackboy’s in Corona six years ago, Jackboy’s has been a hit with customers who have helped double her revenues every year. Yap said sales of her 50 varieties of homemade, all-natural canine confections range from between $8,000 and $20,000 a month.

Clients include pet spas, animal hospitals, groomers, doggie boutiques and gift stores. About 70 percent of her business is online, catering to purists who clamor for Yap’s gluten-free, salt-free, filler-free, dye-free, chemical-free cakes, cake pops, cupcakes, cookies and artisan pastries. They’re made with human-grade ingredients that include honey, olive oil, carob, eggs, roasted peanuts, oatmeal and minimal sugar.

In fact, these pooch products are so good that Donna Kennedy Clark spotted her 3-year-old niece nibbling a Cranberry Bis-Scotties at The Paw Spa she owns at 320 S. Main St. Corona.

“I only carry top-of-the-line natural, holistic cakes and cookies,” Kennedy Clark, 47, said. “Athena cares about every ingredient that goes into them. She even makes her own sprinkles using beets and turmeric for the colors. Customers come in looking for her cookies because their dogs won’t eat any other kind.”

Yap said with a laugh that some people think she uses a fake name enhance her business. Actually, Yap, 40, is Chinese and grew up in Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia in an animal-loving family. At 19, she enrolled in Iowa State University in Ames because of its ranking as one of the top schools for aerospace engineering. After graduating, Yap received her MBA during her 15-year tenure in the industry, specializing in composite materials and processes. Her most recent position was supervising four engineers at BAE Systems in Mojave, but Yap wanted to be her own boss.

Her next move became clear after she and her fiancé, Steve Sunde, rescued from the streets a red German shepherd and dingo mix they named Jackboy, “He picked us,” Yap said. She began making her own dog food in 2007 after many animals died from eating poisonous pet food from China containing tainted wheat gluten. But the snacks and treats Yap whipped up really piqued Jackboy’s palate and with him as her chief taster, a business was born.

At their Corona home, Yap experimented, initially mixing wheat flour, canola oil and parmesan cheese to produce her classic twists called Knotty Parmesan. As her research intensified, so did her commitment to the finest ingredients and a ban on artificial colorings, flavors and commercially produced beef and chicken bouillon. She swapped the canola for 100 percent olive oil. “Everything evolved and business began snowballing,” she recalled.

Yap figures she’s invested more than $150,000 to grow the business. In 2009, she rented a commercial unit on Ott Street in Corona. A year ago July she relocated to her current, 800-square-foot site at 109 N. Maple Street, Unit B, where she employs two workers who bake every day but Sunday. Retail prices run from about $6.99 for a 5-ounce bag to a big birthday cake for $34.99

“People want instant gratification,” Yap said of her two-day turnaround. Jackboy stores shipments for its 15 to 20 daily orders in the warehouse of her boyfriend’s Corona business, Rockwell Aviation Services.

Jackboy died in April at age 12, but another rescue, a Chihuahua and miniature pinscher mix, now helps vet each new roll-out and disdains all but fresh baked goods. Her beau christened him “Colonel,” but Yap mistook the high-ranking title for the seed and registered the mutt as “Kernel.”

The showbiz request came last February from a freelance Hollywood producer who found Jackboy Dog Bakery online. Yap designed the cookie to replicate a World War II-era license plate for a pawn shop in Branson, Mo., that gives customers the chance to earn their asking price by playing a little trivia game. Jackdog’s confection represents the soybean license plates made by some states in the 1940s to save metal for the war effort. The plates began disappearing when animals began eating them right off the cars.

The indefatigable Yap seems to dream up a new goodie every week. Fare includes Garlic Pup-zels, Coco-Mutt Macaroons, Snickerdroodles, Muddy Paws Carob Fudge Sandwiches and Honey Dough-Mutts. “I do it all,” she said. “The design, recipes and labeling. I have a mission to make people appreciate their pets and treat them as part of the family.”

Follow Laurie Lucas on Twitter @LaurieLucas and check her blog on pe.com/business

August 26, 2013 Posted by | Animal or Pet Related Stories, Dogs, Dogs, If Animlas Could Talk..., Just One More Pet, Man's Best Friend, Pet Friendship and Love, pet fun, Pet Nutrition, pet products, Pets, responsible pet ownership | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Pet Events This Halloween Season in Southern California

Halloween isn’t just reserved for children and adults, pets can get into the fun this season as well! There are some really entertaining events happening in Southern California this year. I’ve included one in Hollywood, Riverside as well as Long Beach. If you are in the area, be sure to stop by as they will benefit animal charities as well as shelters. 

Pet Costume Contest in West Hollywood

Location: West Hollywood Park, 647 N. San Vicente Boulevard 
Date: October 28th 
Time: 1:00 p.m. 
Price: FREE 

Here is a great little event to take your pet to this year to celebrate the Halloween season. They’re having a costume competition and pets will be awarded some prizes for most colorful, scariest, look-a-like (owner), creative as well as best costume. Note that you must prove that your pet has been immunized. To find out more information about this below. 

http://www.weho.org/calendar/index.cfm/fuseaction/group/groupid/8

Dogtoberfest in Riverside

Location: Skid Fordyce Harley-Davidson, 7688 Indiana Avenue, Riverside 
Date: October 27th and 28th 
Time: 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. 

All sorts of fun at what they are calling Dogtoberfest at Skid Fordyce Harley-Davidson in Riverside. On Saturday, they will have a costume contest, pet adoption, vaccinations, agility course as well as micro chipping. Then on Sunday, they’ll have races for weiner dogs, chili cook-off and more pet adoptions from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. It sounds exciting! 

Haute Dog Howl’een Parade, Costume Contest and Pet Adoption in Long Beach

Location: Livingston Park, 4900 E. Livingston Drive, Long Beach 
Date: October 28th 
Time: 11:00 a.m. 
Price: $10.00 to $25.00 

This supposedly is one of the largest pet events for the Halloween season so this is the place to be if you have a furry friend if you live near Long Beach. Last year, more than 500 pets showed up and this year, many more are to attend. The pet adoption fair will take place between 11:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. If you aren’t interested in adopting an animal, then you can come a little later for the pet costume contest. 

Registration starts at 1:00 p.m. and the competition starts at 2:00 p.m. Then half an hour later at 2:30 p.m., the parade will start! Vendor booths from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. which include some fun stuff such as a bulldog kissing booth, bobbing for Howl’oWeenies as well as a competition to see which dog can stack the most amount of treats! They’ll also have a costume contest for children. This sounds like a really enjoyable event for owners and their pets. To find out more information about this event, please click on the link below. 

http://www.hautedogs.org/howloween.html

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October 16, 2008 Posted by | Just One More Pet, On The Lighter Side, Pets, Success Stories | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment