Issue of: May 20, 1998  

 

Youngster cooks up big ideas

Dallas’ Doggie Bakery a hit for 5-year-old


By AMY SPINDLER
Express Staff Writer

m13dogb2.gif (10823 bytes)Dallas Lewallen, assisted by Kyle Hubbard, is hard at work at Dallas’ Doggie Bakery. The five- and four-year-old children are selling their product at Atkinsons’ markets. (Express photos by Willy Cook)

Dallas Lewallen, owner of Dallas’ Doggie Bakery, doesn’t bake in the traditional white chef’s coat and hat.

Today, the sturdy five-year-old wears a summery blue dress with pastel pink flowers, and a fiery red chef’s hat sprinkled with chili peppers.

Planted on her kitchen floor in Bellevue, she scoops flour into the mix of doggie bone dough in a five-gallon white bucket. Her partner, four-year-old Kyle Hubbard, mixes the stiff dough with both hands wrapped tightly around a power drill.

Once the ingredients are mixed, Dallas and Kyle roll the dough, use a bone-shaped cookie cutter to shape it, coat the bones with a secret ingredient, and bake them. The bones then go to the shelves of Atkinsons’ markets, where they are gaining popularity with dogs and their owners.

"Dallas is very focused," said mom Lindi Schooley. "We’ve made bones for five hours straight."

The organic dog treats are an original Dallas recipe, which balances carbohydrates and protein without a lot of fat. Dallas and Kyle have sold 80 bags of the bones, which are priced at $5.59 for 10 ounces. A Web site for the product is in development, and a visit on the Rosie O’Donnel show is in the works.

m13dogb5.gif (10324 bytes)Dallas cuts the dough with a dog-bone shaped cookie cutter, then dips the cookies in a secret ingredient. (Express photos by Willy Cook)

Dallas’ half-pint size isn’t the only impressive element behind this business. Dallas was born with Mobius Syndrome, a rare disease that affects the third through 12th cranial nerves in varying degrees.

Dallas’ gross motor skills are slow, she uses a hearing aid to restore hearing, and has poor eyesight. At five, she has undergone four ear surgeries and two eye surgeries. As a baby, doctors said she would fail to thrive, and speculated she would be mentally challenged.

"It was really discouraging," said Lindi, who boasts Dallas scored in the top percentile of the pre-kindergarten assessment tests. Dallas and Kyle are pre-kindergarteners at The Donnelly School in Hailey.

After mixing the doggie dough, Dallas walks over to the counter where a Kitchen-Aid mixer sits.

"This is mine," she said proudly, adding Santa brought it for her last Christmas. She wants the pasta attachment next.

Dallas also owns plenty of cook books, which she uses on a daily basis.

"Cooking is something she loves, and does well," said Lindi, who allows Dallas to use the gas stove and knives with supervision.

Dallas’ Doggie Bakery was conceived in the car on the way to Aunt Jane’s house. Dallas was flipping through a cooking magazine when she saw dog-bone shaped cookie cutters.

"I heard Dallas gasp, and I thought to myself, ‘How much can you read or talk about food?’" said Lindi with a laugh.

Dallas soon owned a bone-shaped cookie cutter, and went to work developing a recipe with her mom. A mini-Belgium stock dog named Jake worked as the official taste-tester. According to mother and daughter, they knew they had a successful recipe when Jake barked and begged at the oven door.

"It’s not good to make kids grow up too fast, but if they’re driven, I think a work ethic and sense of responsibility are important," Lindy said.

Partner Kyle prides himself in the success of the bone sales.

"I’m a good thinker," he said.

Kyle also has a strong sales pitch, which he recites convincingly.

"Do you have a dog? They would like these bones."

If a potential client doesn’t own a dog, Kyle will inquire if they know anyone with dogs, or if they own a cat.

"Cats like them too; they like to chew or play with them," he said.

Dallas politely recommends one bone a day, which she allows could be hard to stick to.

"One day Dallas had some bones in her backpack," explained Lindi. "And this black lab started following her, and just would not leave her alone!"

Dallas also receives phone calls from customers who are in awe of their dog’s love for her product.

m13dogb4.gif (8977 bytes)Dallas and Kyle have a hard time deciding what they like best about making the bones.

"I like mixing stuff," says Kyle, but Dallas loves it all.

"She invites her friends over to make bones," said Lindi.

Dallas, whose favorite food to bake is carrot cake, is saving the profits of the business for culinary school. She hopes to open a savings account, but until then, she keeps her money in a pink Barbie box.

Lindi expects the Web page, Rosie O’Donnell appearance, and word of mouth to increase sales.

"Right now, we can only supply Atkinsons’," she said. Lindi hopes to change this by converting the family shed into a dog bone factory of sorts, complete with a commercial oven.

"I have this fear," Lindi said. "Are we going to make dog bones the rest of our lives?"

 

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