A simple solution to a family concern has turned into a bit of a money-maker for one Tempe middle school student.
Theresa Lobato, 12, and her family switched to an organic food diet a few years ago to address allergies she and her brother have. Even the family dog eats organic food.
But when it came to pet treats, even those labeled "organic" in some stores contained preservatives.
"They seemed overpriced and the ingredients didn't look all that great anyway," she said. "There were meat byproducts in them which are bad for dogs."
So Theresa decided to try making her own. She started with a recipe found in a book, but then made adjustments.
"I didn't want to use the author's recipe. I based them off the recipes but then added my own dog-friendly ingredients to them, like honey. I eventually created them so they're completely different," she said. "It took me about six times before I got them so there weren't any burnt. I would bring them out of the oven when they were brown and not good." The peanut butter biscuits contain white flour, whole wheat flour, water, peanut butter, honey and canola oil. Though Sophie, the family's 1-year-old Labrador retriever, is the "test dog," Theresa took a few bags of biscuits to neighbors.
Slowly word spread, and someone called Theresa to place an order. It was then that Theresa realized she had created her own business. She named it Baked with Love Dog Biscuits.
Her mom, Gloria Baca, isn't surprised by her oldest child's accomplishment.
"Theresa's always been into dogs," Baca said. "I knew anything she was going to do was with animals and we've always baked together. ... What's taken me by surprise is that people think it's so cool."
Theresa wants to keep her operation small. She is a busy honor student and an accomplished horseback rider. "It kind of seems like it relaxes her a bit," Baca said.
Theresa agrees. "It's nice because I'm making money off something I enjoy," she said.