Two Young Siler City Siblings Create and Sell Healthy Dog Treats

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After a health scare with their own pet, Sophia Grimes and Daniel Grimes turned an experimental enterprise into a business venture

Sophia, Buddy and Daniel
Sophia, Buddy and Daniel

By Anna-Rhesa Versola | Photography by John Michael Simpson

Meet Buddy, a yellow Labrador retriever who was the catalyst for a Chatham-born business. When Sophia Grimes, 12, and Daniel Grimes, 9, lost their grandfather – John Franklin Grimes, a local businessman and a former mayor of Siler City – in October 2020, they immediately asked their parents for a puppy to help them cope. “We started calling [Buddy] our grieving dog because the kids were feeling so lost, and it was so heavy on them to lose their grandfather,” says their mom, Marcia Grimes.

The family soon noticed a problem with Buddy. He was having a difficult time running and jumping like a normal 6-month-old pup. They tried everything the veterinarian advised, but nothing was working. So, Sophia started to do her own research. “I’ve found that grain is actually very inflammatory in the joints,” she says. “So I was like, ‘Let’s remove all grains [from his diet],’ and [Buddy] started getting much better.”

The Chatham Middle School student then decided to channel her late grandfather’s entrepreneurial spirit and began to experiment at home with different ingredients to develop a better, more nutritious recipe for dog treats.

“I did the research myself of what dogs can eat and what they can’t eat,” Sophia says. One recipe would spoil too soon after making it. After some time, she found a good combination of ingredients – including peanut butter and banana – that lasts longer, can be stored in the freezer and tastes better. “They’re a good summer treat when they’re cold, something soft,” Sophia says. “In the refrigerator, they can last I think about a week and a half.” She says the bars, made without preservatives, dairy, sugar or soy, can stay up to six months in the freezer.

Dog treats made with peanut butter and banana.

Daniel, whose enthusiasm to help his sister depends on the day, accepts assignments like mashing vegetables or mixing ingredients. “I’m going to be completely honest in this,” Sophia says, glancing at her brother. “I do most of the work.”

In 2021, Sophia learned about a children’s business fair sponsored by the Chatham County Chamber of Commerce held at Mosaic at Chatham Park in Pittsboro. With their parents’ help, Sophia and Daniel set up a table and tent for “Buddy’s Treats” and sold the home-baked dog treats for $2 each. They won first place. “And then [in 2022], we won second place,” Sophia says.

The siblings continue to keep an eye out for pop-up markets in the area. Sophia set up a Facebook page for online orders and plans to continue tweaking her recipe. She will also keep asking her brother to help with the endeavor. And, of course, Buddy is a willing taste-tester for any new treats. “I just wanted to raise awareness that dogs deserve the same nutrients that we do,” Sophia says.

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Anna-Rhesa Versola

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