It all begins with service dogs.... in 2011 I was able to pursue something I had always wanted to do ... become a puppy raiser with Service Dogs of Virginia (SDV). This non-profit located in Charlottesville, Virginia, trains dogs to provide physical assistance, alert Type 1 diabetics when their blood sugar drops and partner with autistic children. As a puppy raiser I have the best of all worlds - taking an 8 week old puppy everywhere I go to expose her to different environments, watching her learn advanced skills and, after a year and a half, seeing her go off with a client that is the perfect match. And then I get a new puppy! Kind of takes the edge off of saying goodbye...
So where does soap come in? Fundraising is always a priority as SDV does not charge their clients for the dogs (it costs about $20K a year to train one of these dogs). I had always wanted to make soap and as I researched an idea began forming - why not start with soaps for dogs? Soaps in fun shapes, colors and scents. Soaps that spread the word about SDV and serve a purpose.
You can make soap from scratch or start with a melt and pour base so I tried both. The latter is like starting with a cake mix and adding ingredients to it and decorating to your heart's content. Melt and pour soap bases allowed me to experiment and decide what I wanted our soaps to actually look like. After much research and many iterations (we tried olive oil, shea butter, goat's milk, honey and aloe vera bases as well as several different brands) we selected our favorite bases made of natural ingredients that produce a wonderful lather, clean without drying and rinse easily.
Scent can be added to soap by using essential oils or fragrance oils. My reading on essential oils reminded me that people have been using scents to influence mood and behavior for centuries and essential oils have a history of beneficial effects. A dog's sense of smell is much more sensitive than ours and they use their sense of smell to interpret the world (check out the internet and information on the therapeutic use of 100% pure essential oils for treatment of physical and behavioral problems in dogs!) I decided to incorporate the use of essential oils in my first soaps.
The end result of this journey: a dog bone, a round paw print and a rectangular paw prints soap using 100% essential oils: Euchalyptus & Cedarwood (believed to be natural pest repellents), Lavender (rumored to exert a calming influence) and Peppermint (said to increase energy levels)! All on a stretchy wristband so if you drop it you don't lose it and you can hang it up to dry. And in fun colors and designs that mirror the SDV logo. Part of the proceeds from these soaps goes to support the efforts of SDV. Please check out their website at www.servicedogsva.org for more information about how you can help!
We created a bar for you too! Shouldn't you enjoy the benefits of these great soaps too?
We are experimenting with other fun soaps for you and your dog and other natural products - check in regularly to see what we have added!