Customer thank yous come in the form of tail wags and slobbery kisses for Allison Whitfield-Smith — and she wouldn’t have it any other way.
After leaving the corporate world, Whitfield-Smith wanted to find something new that she would enjoy.
“When people would ask me what I would do if I didn’t have to worry about the money part of it, I’d say I’d do something working with dogs,” says Whitfield-Smith, who has two rescue dogs, LuLu and Lylah.
The idea of working with dogs remained only a dream until an idea began to take shape. Whitfield-Smith remembered seeing an ice cream truck for sale on the way to her in-laws’ home. Then, she watched a news segment about food truck businesses in New York — including one truck that sold treats to dogs.
“I jokingly said to my husband, ‘I could do that,’” she recalls. “It became one idea I couldn’t talk myself out of.”
With no dog treat trucks in the state, she began seriously looking into details in January of 2015, eventually buying the ice cream truck. And by last July, the Fetch dog treat truck was created.
“For many, our dogs aren’t just pets: They are a part of the family,” she says. “People get themselves and their kids treats, and many want to do the same for their dogs.”
She takes her truck to dog parks, local events and even private parties. She recently helped one lucky pooch, Pepper, celebrate her second birthday with a personalized cake, ice cream and other treats for the doggie guests. There was plenty of tail-wagging fun for the pets and their owners.
There are different packages for private parties, including gift bags, a six-pack of Bowser Beer with the dog’s photos on it and a personalized cake. Pet owners can also order birthday cakes and have them hand delivered.
In addition to birthday parties, she also brings the truck to events like customer appreciation days at vet clinics and offices with “Bring Your Dog to Work” days. “I’m open to going to any pet-friendly event,” Whitfield-Smith says.
Whitfield-Smith will also be bringing the Fetch truck to the Market at Pepper Place this year, which has led her to make some changes to her treats.
Since she mainly offered treats from other sources like local bakeries in the beginning, she began creating recipes, baking and decorating the dog goodies herself (a requirement of Pepper Place).
She offers cupcakes, Auburn- and Alabama-themed bones, cake pops, non-alcoholic Bowser Beer and ice cream, which is her most popular item.
Ice cream flavors include maple bacon, peanut butter and carob. “They just eat it up,” she says of the ice cream.
The treats use human-grade ingredients, so owners can even try a taste if they please. The cakes taste like banana bread and are sweetened with honey and applesauce, she says. There are also grain-free options for pets with diet restrictions.
“I want to offer quality products,” she says. “Although they are treats, they are healthy treats. I feel good about that.”
She says her favorite part about running the treat truck business is meeting all of the dogs and their owners.
“I see so many different kinds of dogs and personalities,” Whitfield-Smith says. “I enjoy talking with people, too. I can definitely relate to dog owners. It’s a great mix for me.”
While her main focus is on creating treats for dogs, she doesn’t leave out feline friends. Whitfield-Smith also offers some salmon bits for owners to treat their cats.
She supports local rescue groups through Fetch and plans to become more involved with them in the future.
The Fetch treat truck will be at the eCO Credit Union Foundation Charity Trail Run & Doggie Dash April 9 and Mutt Strut on April 16. She also posts when she will be at dog parks on her site and social media pages.
For more information or to book Fetch for a private event, visit Fetchtreattruck.com or their social media pages on Facebook, Instagram (@Fetchtruckbhm) and Twitter (@Fetchtruckbhm).