Young entrepreneur combines love for animals with business
MADAWASKA, Maine — When Brooke Levesque turned 8 in March, she asked her friends to bring cat food instead of presents to her birthday party so she could make a donation to a local animal shelter because she has a love for all creatures … and unknowingly put into motion the beginnings of a small business.
Since starting Happy Tails Bakery in September, Levesque has sold more than 100 orders of dog treats.
Levesque makes dog biscuits at her home, where she lives with her parents, Brenda and Bill Levesque; her two-year-old sister Bella; three cats named Shadow, Smokey and Spencer; and Sasha, the family’s three-year old German shepherd / husky mix.
Brooke said she really enjoys spending time with Sasha.
“We play frisbee, and I take her for walks,” Brooke said. “She jumps high and catches it.”
In the winter she and Sasha play outside in the snow, and snowballs replace the frisbee.
“She catches the snow in her mouth,” said Brooke.
“Brooke loves all animals,” her mother said Thursday, Dec. 1.
Brooke shared that if she had things her way, she would adopt two more dogs and two more cats. Her favorite wild animals are snakes. She even had a snake-themed birthday party once.
Last month, Brooke visited the Little Ray’s Reptile Zoo traveling exhibit across the border in Edmundston, New Brunswick.
“I liked the snake. I got to pet the snake,” she said. She also thought the kangaroos at the exhibit were “very cute.”
Brooke has attended the Can Am Crown International Sled Dog races in Fort Kent, and even took a ride last year with a local musher.
“When I grow up, I’m going to be one,” Brooke said.
The idea for the dog treat business grew out of Brooke’s enthusiasm for creating treats for Sasha. “I made them for my dog at first,” she said. Then family and friends started asking for some for their own dogs.
“People started to say, ‘I’ll buy some.’ So we said, ‘Why not?’ and came up with this idea of a little business for Brooke,” her mother said.
“Brooke isn’t into dance or sports,” her mother explained. “Animals are her thing.”
“I like to go bowling,” Brooke corrected her mother, with a giggle.
Brooke and her mother use natural ingredients, such as unbleached flour, natural peanut butter, bacon fat, bacon, and farm fresh eggs. The coconut oil in their winter treats is organic, and they do not use any preservatives, fillers, artificial colors or flavors, her mother said.
So far, Brooke has shipped orders to six states, including as far away as Arizona. She also has her own business page on Facebook. Bags of bones are available in two sizes for customers: a 10-ounce bag that has approximately 34 small bones, and a bag of 14 large bones.
Brooke said she likes working in the kitchen, and cutting out the doggy-themed shapes is her favorite part.
New products Brooke added this month include coconut oil melts and homemade “beggin’ strips” with real bacon and peanut butter. The oil in the melts is supposed to help keep a dog’s coat healthy, Brooke’s mother said.
The little entrepreneur said she also has an idea for heart shaped treats for Valentine’s Day.
Brooke and her mother said they find their recipe and design ideas from Pinterest and other places online. The name Happy Tails Bakery comes from seeing how dogs wag their tails when they are happy, Brooke said.
“All the profits and tips go into an account for her education,” Brooke’s mother shared.
Brooke said having pets keeps her active and that exercising with a dog is good for people. Her mother said Brooke has talked about becoming a veterinarian or working as an animal rescuer when she is older. Brooke and her family regularly visit animal shelters in Fort Kent and Edmundston. The young girl said she enjoys feeding the cats at the PAWS shelter in Fort Kent.
“It feels good to help,” Brooke said.
Customers can order Brooke’s Happy Tails Bakery items through her business Facebook page.