Canine cuisine it may be – a dog’s dinner it certainly is not.
The gourmet food offering at Harry’s Treats – the Capital’s first dog bakery – includes duck and venison sausages, salmon and cream cheese biscuits, gateaux, cupcakes and donuts, all of which can be washed down with a cheeky little (non-alcoholic) dog wine.
And before dismissing the idea as barking mad, it’s worth noting that owner Paul Marsden is enjoying unprecedented demand for his healthy handmade hound snacks.
It seems dried pigs ears and liver are just too “offal” to countenance for some self-respecting owners of today’s city pets.
It was his own black Lab, Harry, who provided the inspiration for Paul to set up his own business five years ago after the major food franchise he was working for went under.
“Harry was a rescue dog and because he had a very sensitive stomach, I began making treats for him that were healthy,” says Paul (48).
Encouraged by the quality of his homemade snacks, he found a social enterprise offering support with marketing and website design and decided to introduce his products to a wider market.
By the time he opened the shop and bakery in Portobello last year, Paul had already established a large customer base by selling at farmers’ markets.
“Basically we needed a production unit, as well as a shop front for our products. At the time we were making all the treats at home and it was taking over our lives,” he explains.
The shop was an immediate hit with shoppers and existing traders, who welcomed the unconventional addition to the High Street. Even those who frowned on the idea initially are now converted.
“We had one person who thought it was a bit wacky, until she bought a dog that is, and now visiting the shop is part of her life,” says Paul, who is delighted that the outlet has become something of a social hub for local dog walkers.
He adds: “I think our products are popular because they are healthy and they make the cross over to the luxury market, with lovely ingredients like black pudding and pancetta rather than liver.
“Pets make people happy, they think their dogs are special and deserve special treats. If I wouldn’t want to eat something, I wouldn’t want my dog to eat it.”
Following Harry’s death earlier this year, Paul takes comfort in knowing that his legacy lives on in the business.
The shop also stocks a range of quality gifts for dogs and cats and is the only shop in Scotland selling Equafleece dog coats.
Harry’s Treats, shop and dog bakery, 212 Portobello High Street, EH15 2AU, 0131 669 7964, www.harrystreats.co.uk. Open, Tues and Sun, noon to 5pm; Weds to Sat, 10am to 5pm.