Some people with dogs have signs on their doors or windows saying “Beware of Dog,” maybe with the image of an intimidating canine staring you down. Not Edith Rodriguez, founder, owner and baker of Three Bandits Dog Barkery.
Approach her front door and you’ll see a sign that reads: “The more people I meet the more I like my dog.”
“I love all animals, all kinds of dogs,” Rodriguez said. “I’ve been with dogs all my life. I used to have boxers, now I have Boston terriers.”
Rodriguez relocated to Killeen from Arecibo, Puerto Rico, with her husband, Jaime, a 32-year Army veteran, to be closer to her son, daughter-in-law and grandsons.
A busy woman, Rodriguez recently welcomed a guest to her home then headed back to the kitchen where she watched over pots of fresh sweet potatoes and premium grade beef stew and broth simmering on her stove. Flavorful aromas filled the air and it seemed that dinner was going to be a tasty one. Except for one major thing: the fresh foods she was cooking were not for her family, but were two of the natural ingredients she uses in homemade dog treats.
Four years ago, her daughter-in-law, Sarah Rodriquez, suggested that Edith Rodriguez — already an established baker of special event cakes for weddings, birthdays, holidays and other occasions — begin a natural dog biscuit bakery and sell her goods at the local farmers markets.
“I had just moved here not long before her,” Sarah Rodriquez said. “She had tried some different things and was wondering what to do next. She gave it a shot and it just happened to fit her.”
Edith Rodriguez, 54, who was named one of 50 women from the Dove Soap Real Women Campaign for her work as a bilingual teacher of self-esteem to young women in Puerto Rico, said it didn’t happen overnight, but eventually Three Bandits Dog Barkery was born.
“After a time I came up with the first ingredients, then added other ingredients as it went on,” she said.
Three Bandits Dog Barkery is named for three of her four Boston terriers, Blackie, Sebastian and Pepe. It is a home-based business where she creates only natural cookies and treats for her canine customers and sells them at local farmers markets.
“The most important thing, besides finding good ingredients, is the love I have for this,” Edith Rodriquez said. “When people bring their dogs to the farmers market, the dogs bring their owners to the booth. I greet my dog customers first, then the pet parents and hand-out treats.”
Although her creations are not organic, Edith Rodriquez said she uses only natural ingredients purchased from the farmers markets when available.
“There are no chemicals, dyes, sugars, salts or colors added,” she said. “When I use bacon for a treat, it is nitrite-free.”
She uses a dehydrator to keep her treats preservative-free.
“I dry them really good,” she said. “They will last in the fridge up to three weeks or in the freezer for six months.”
Edith Rodriquez’s choice of using only the highest grade fresh ingredients was based on her desire to feed her dogs a natural diet.
”I read a lot about dogs and learned about all those (pet food) recalls,” she said. “I was looking to give my dogs the best by doing research on dog nutrition. I don’t cut corners when it comes to feeding my dogs.”
Now her selection of dog treats include peanut butter and peaches; cream cheese and bacon; bacon, oats and carrots; sweet potato and beef; banana and peanut butter; blueberries and peanut butter; and strawberry and peanut butter thumb print. She sells her biscuits by the pound at area farmers markets, but warns her customers to feed their dogs only two or three biscuits a day.
“Don’t feed them a half-pound, treat them like kids,” Edith Rodriguez said. “If they eat too much, they will get fat.”
When Rodriquez isn’t in her kitchen or workshop creating dog biscuits or fulfilling specialty cake orders, she can be found at the Harker’s Heights Farmers Market on Saturdays or at the library with Blackie for the Reading to Dogs program.
“I have a full life,” she said. “I don’t need a fancy house, designer clothes or handbags, just a roof over my head, my family and my dogs.”