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Sometimes a Dog's Life Isn't So Bad

Pets: Specialty boutique store attracts owners who pamper their pooches and cater to their cats with gourmet goodies and fabulous fashions.


OJAI — Have a craving for Bow-ownies? Or maybe you would like some Bowser Brittle.

If these treats sound as if they are for the dogs--it's because they are.

Franimals, a new specialty bakery and boutique store, offers coddled canines as well as finicky felines a taste of pet heaven.

Just ask owner Fran Farrell.

"I've tasted just about everything," Farrell said.

Aside from such accessories as kibble feeders and pet beds, the pet supply store offers homemade baked treats and other delicacies from around the country.

For morning dogs, there is Barkers' Gourmet Biscotti or Bagel Bones. For dogs that care more for the after-dinner treat, there are the Bow-ownies made with carob or Fu Man Chew fortune cookies, complete with such fortunes as "Karma is better than dogma."

The owner of the new store hopes to capitalize on a growing $20-billion-a-year pet industry by taking the term "pampered pooch" to a new level.

Ellen Kasemeier, the owner of kittens Heloise and Abelard, browsed the store recently to find items for them.

"They get the very best food," she said. "They have free rein of the house."

Farrell said she is pleased with the response to her venture.

"It's been great," said Farrell, who has three dogs. "On the weekends, it's like having a party. People just come in here and trade stories about their pets."

And why not? Many owners consider their pets members of the family.

"When my dog is shedding and I have people over, they need to learn to deal with it or they don't need to be there," Carol Becker said about her 3-year-old Australian cattle dog Missy.

Indeed, some pet lovers will go to great lengths to pamper their pets.

Just ask Kate Hoffman, owner of a 15-year-old Samoan-Wolf mix named Tofu who had a birthday party last month.

"I invite all the dogs she knows," she said. "They get party hats and cookies and have a good time." Tofu's main course is usually a McDonald's happy meal, Hoffman said.

While large pet supply chains offer a variety of goodies, Farrell believes her specialty store has a unique niche.

Many of the products offered at Franimals have been taste tested by Farrell, who says that some of the treats are actually good enough for humans.

"With the homemade ones, I just add a little more garlic," she said. "They're good."

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