KNOXVILLE (WATE) - A Knoxville bakery makes healthy, natural, creative treats, but for a different audience than you might expect.
Made in Tennessee has featured a lot of food products, but this report is worth barking about.
As you walk into River Dog Bakery, 5201 Kingston Pike, in Bearden, you're likely to meet Cooper, a two-year-old Golden Retriever. Not only does he have free rein in the bakery, he also gets to sample the treats.
"We have birthday cakes and we do muffins and fido freeze (doggie ice cream)," said owner Pam Trainor.
She and her husband, Brian, hand make all their goodies on site.
It was one of the couple's first dogs that inspired them to find healthy alternatives to the treats available in most stores.
"Our first golden, Nicholas, had allergies so we always had to cook for him because that was before anything like this existed," Pam said.
When the Trainors came up with the idea for their bakery, they named it for their second dog, River.
His picture and tags still hang in the store and their mission is the same as it was when they opened seven years ago. "We want to have nutritious treats that dogs like without lots of salts and sugars and yeast and things like that," Pam said.
The bones and treats in many stores are often riddled with corn syrup. The Trainors add flavor using all natural ingredients, like sorghum from a Mennonite community in Middle Tennessee.
Pam says she also buys and uses a lot of local cornmeal and local honey.
In fact, all their items are made with things you could eat every day, but they're combined in ways that may not be so appealing to humans.
"It kind of freaks people out when you say turkey ice cream," Pam said, laughing. "The dogs don't mind. They love it!"
Another big treat at River Dog Bakery is a spa room complete with a walk-in tub, hot water, dog shampoo, towels and brushes.
"It is really a self-serve dog wash," Pam said. "You could go in there and light candles if you want, but really it is a self-serve dog wash. It's been great. You don't want to tear up your own house."
Whether it's a trip to the spa, a pup-cup (doggie peanut butter cups) or a puperoni pizza, the Trainors say moderation is always key. "It should be a treat, not something you want to overload them with," Pam said.
If the bakery looks similar to one that was on Northshore Drive, it's the same shop. The owners changed locations to Kingston Pike in May.