For Dawn Henson of Beaumont, Texas, it was love at first sight.
Perusing Facebook late one evening in July 2011, Henson saw an unforgettable photo of an aging and seriously ill white German shepherd named Kaiser. He was scheduled to be euthanized the next day at a local animal shelter.
Kaiser was heartworm-positive, underweight, and in the early stages of heart failure. He also had a “gorgeous” face that called out to Henson in a way that she could not resist.
“To think that Kaiser was scheduled to be put down due to his physical issues and [the public’s] lack of interest broke my heart,” she recalls.
Henson, an animal lover with a heart as big as her native Texas, adopted Kaiser and vowed to provide a good home. But caring for a dog in failing health isn’t cheap.
“We have five children, and my husband is a teacher,” Henson says. “We can’t afford some astronomical vet bills, so I started thinking about making dog treats and selling then to friends and neighbors.”
She quickly developed an original — and apparently delicious — recipe using only the “highest quality, all-natural, organic ingredients.” Days later, Henson officially launched Cookies for Kaiser in her kitchen.
Cookies for Kaiser was a nearly instant hit, as residents and businesses in the community snapped up the homemade doggie treats.
“When Kaiser was going through all of this, we decided to start fostering,” Henson recalls. “Last year alone, we had 34 dogs. Then I also took in a couple of dogs that were going to be euthanized due to medical issues, and I used the cookie proceeds for that.”
Today, Kaiser is far healthier and happier than anyone could have imagined less than two short years ago. Consequently, in addition to raising money for Kaiser’s ongoing care, Henson has also been able to donate more than 4,000 cookies to other animal lovers, rescue organizations, and charitable auctions. “About three weeks ago, I shipped my first order to a military base in Africa,” she says.
Henson’s cookies are definitely in demand. “Yet with only a ‘regular’ mixer, I am forced to turn down business as I cannot keep up,” Henson told Intuit in her Small Business Growing Strong campaign wish. “A commercial mixer and supplies would help us in our effort to save the world one cookie at a time.”
Intuit is granting Henson’s wish as she strives to become the “Mrs. Fields of dog cookies.” In the future, she aims to launch a website, expand her operation to produce treats for other animals (including cats and horses), and even open a facility to continue caring for animals in need of a home.
“I hope we will get a bricks-and-mortar store that will not only house our doggie bakery, but an adoption area as well,” she explains.
Intuit’s Small Business Growing Strong campaign is announcing one winner a day through May 24, 2013. Check out the list of current winners, and find out if yours is one of the wishes we’ve granted!